Summer is nature’s time of growth and maturation. It is a time to recharge our internal batteries with solar power. We need a diet that keeps us cool and light made up primarily of raw fruits and vegetables and we need to move and sweat out toxins.
Summer is associated with the Fire element in Chinese medicine. Internal organs ruled by this element are the heart and the small intestine as well as the functions of circulation and heating the body.
When the Fire Qi (pronounced chi) is weak, a person may be lackluster or bland. They may suffer from anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. Common illnesses include palpitations, hypertension, and sores on the mouth and tongue. Bitter flavored foods favors the Fire Qi. The best choice for healthy, bitter flavor include dark, green leafy vegetables.
Summer is the time to strengthen your Fire element if it is weak. Common herbs that can also strengthen the Fire element include Cayenne, Ginger root, and garlic. Fennel seed is a helpful summer herb for the small intestine. Ginseng root is a helpful summer herb for the heart.
In addition to internal preparation for summer, there are external factors to consider as well.
You can get some protection from the summer sun through foods such as carrots—or any other red, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables—as they are packed with carotenoids, and studies show they reduce sunburn intensity. However, this protection is minimal. You can also get some natural protection by applying oils that offer some sun protection such as carrot seed oil, avocado, coconut and olive oil. (listed in order of SPF protection highest to lowest).
For sunburn, aloe vera gel is my remedy of choice, but you can also try using vinegar to ease the discomfort of sunburn. It will sting initially and then you will feel relief.
If you get overheated, cool down by finding some shade and drinking plenty of water to stay hydated. One of my favorite ways to cool down and hydrate is with a Watermelon-Mint drink:
- 1 small watermelon
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger
- 6 mint leaves
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 10 ice cubes
Place all the ingredients in a powerful blender and liquefy to a nice smooth consistency. If you would like it sweeter, add 1-2 Tbs of raw honey.
Other things to prepare for are insects and insect bites. There are many options when it comes to natural insect repellents. I prepare an oil-based repellent made with grapeseed oil, neem oil and essential oils of Pennyroyal, Rosemary, Bay, and Eucalyptus.
To relieve the itch of insect bites you can apply vinegar or make an an herb-infused oil or salve with chickweed or soothing, healing essential oils such as lavender.
Summer is upon us. Be prepared by stocking your pantry with these summer-friendly remedies.