11 Natural Ways to Cope with Summer Heat: Harmonizing with the Season & Healing the Heart
Staying hydrated and avoiding getting overheated it vital for protecting our health. Here in Phoenix, we live in one of the hottest places on the planet! And the longer you live here, the more adverse the ongoing heat becomes for your overall health. Follow the advice from Eastern medicine can help you cope with the heat and feel better!
Each year over 2,000 people visit AZ ER’s due to heat related illnesses and 60-100 people die due to heat exposure. You can use ancient Oriental Medicine (OM) nutrition and acupuncture to keep you protected from the potentially devastating effects of heat.
For over 3,000 years the wisdom of Oriental Medicine as cautioned that heat agitates the Heart and makes the mind restless. Western medicine agrees: heat exhaustion stroke can often mimic a heart attack. Other symptoms include: nausea, confusion, fatigue and weakness. And as we Phoenicians well know, heat also makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, which only adds to the fatigue.
Balance Fire with Water: The simplest advice for avoiding heat stroke is to drink 8 oz water before going outside in the heat. If working or playing outside in the heat, drink 8 oz of water every 20 minutes. The effects of heat accumulates in the body over days and nights. Your body can not catch up on water intake later. Replace water as your body looses it to help regulate your body temperature. Some people assume in desert climates that since they don’t feel sweaty they’re not losing fluids: this is deceptive as perspiration is evaporating too fast to help cool us down.
Add lemon to your water to increase the cooling effect, according to OM nutrition theory, the sour flavor helps generate Yin fluids. You can also try mixing one tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar in a glass of water with some 1 teaspoon of honey. Sip it slowly. This is also a natural remedy for acid reflux (internal heat rebelling upward according to OM theory).
Replace electrolytes: The human body needs to balance sodium with potassium to maintain fluid balance. The average American gets too much sodium and not enough potassium if the diet is high in processed foods or eating restaurant food, especially fast food. During the summer heat, if you have the average American diet you probably don't need to increase salt intake but should focus on getting more potassium. You can do this with sports drinks, however it best do this with natural food/drink sources: coconut water, prickly pear fruit, celery, bananas, avocados, yogurt, potatoes, leafy greens, squash and mushrooms.
Switch from black to green: Replace your usual cup of coffee with green tea. Coffee is a diuretic and its strong bitter flavor has a potent drying effect. Green tea is less bitter, has less caffeine and is therefore better at cooling the body. You can drink it warm or cold.
Drink flower tea! Chrysanthemum tea is a very popular summertime tea in Asia because it is so well known for its cooling properties. Its also helpful for headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, chest pain, fevers & colds, Type 2 diabetes and even prostate cancer. You can add chrysanthemum flowers to your morning green tea and in the evening combine it with chamomile tea for extra flower power cooling benefits!
Eat in harmony with the Season! The foods that grow well in our climate when it’s this hot happen to also be great for keeping you cool! Nopal cactus pads - and it’s fruit, the prickly pear is ripening right now. Prickly pear is high in magnesium and potassium as well as Vit C and other beneficial flavonoids. Prickly pear also reduces inflammation, a sign of internal heat. And according to OM theory, external heat always makes any internal heat condition worse. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and watermelons are also very cooling: any vegetable with a high water content. Not sure what else is in season? Visit your local farmer’s market and you’ll get lots of choices!
Crunch on celery: aim to eat 4 stalks of celery per day. Both OM and modern nutrition science agree on the amazing benefits of celery to reduce inflammation and promote heart health, excellent for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and it also calms the nervous system, reducing anxiety.
Skip the Ice & add a pinch of Spice: paradoxically for heat, OM nutrition cautions against over-doing cold foods and drinks. Too much cold inhibits the digestive process. Drinking warm beverages and soups, as well as eating foods with a little pungency (chili pepper, garlic, ginger) causes the body to perspire slightly which naturally cools the body. Talk about eating in season - chili pepper plants love this heat!
Alcohol is very heating; consider cutting back or quitting all together during the height of our hot season. You’ll sleep better, lose weight, and feel happier (alcohol is a depressant!). If you’re only cutting back then try and drink earlier in the evening and drink at least 8 oz of water before and after each alcoholic drink. Remember that heat accumulates in the body and alcohol dehydrates you. So drink extra water the day after you’ve imbibed.
Pinch yourself! the acupuncture point Li11 at the elbow has been used for 5,000 years to help clear heat from the body. My Chinese friends tell me that when they hike in the summer they pinch this point to help keep them cool. Find Li11 between the outside crease of the elbow and the funny bone. If this point is really tender on you - and you are really feeling the effects of the heat, try these OM nutrition tips and come enjoy the cooling benefits of acupuncture at Yin Rising!
Looking for recipes? Stay tuned for Part 2 of this article coming soon!
Anna Lunaria is a licensed Acupuncturist, licensed Massage therapist, Yoga therapist, a certified Hypnotherapist. Experience Anna Lunaria's East-West Integrative approach to help people heal naturally. Anna believes that synergy of ancient Eastern medicine with modern Western scientific research and knowledge produces optimal results. Anna Lunaria specializes in chronic pain, allergies, autoimmune and fertility acupuncture.