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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anna Lunaria, Doctor of Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine

12 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 3,000 people visit AZ ER’s due to heat related illnesses. In recent summers with increasing heat waves mortality rates. In 2021 over 850 people year died due to heat exposure in AZ. You can use ancient Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine (EAM) nutrition therapy to keep you protected from the potentially devastating effects of heat.

For over 3,000 years the wisdom of East Asian Medicine (EAM) has cautioned that heat agitates the Heart and makes the mind restless. Western bio-medical medicine agrees: heat exhaustion and heat 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, Heart agitation and mental restlessness.

1. 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.

2. Add lemon to your water to increase the cooling effect, according to EAM 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 EAM theory).

3. 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 your diet is high in processed foods or eating restaurant food, especially fast food you have higher sodium levels. 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.

Recipe: Make your own Electrolyte drink!

  • 8 oz water

  • pinch of salt

  • splash of agave syrup or maple syrup or hone

  • juice from a whole lime

  • juice from 1/2 lemon

  • Optional: splash of prickly pear juice.

4. 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. Coffee in EAM is warming whereas Green Tea is cooling. Green tea is less bitter, has less caffeine. You can drink it warm to offset the 'cold' or amplify the cold by drinking it cold.

Drink tea in moderation. Too much cold tea is not good for digestive fire. Note that if green tea can cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach and brewed too intensely (steeping too long and tea tastes bitter or too much matcha powder). Green tea is best brewed short steep 1-3 minutes: first steep 1 min, second steep 2 min, third steep 3 min. Matcha is powdered green tea. Start with a very small amount (1/4-1/2 tsp). Matcha tea can be mixed into any liquid and food. We enjoy our Matcha with Immortal Tea: Gynostemma: Jiao Gu Lan, also known as the poor man's Ginseng plant. Immortal Tea has a natural sweet flavor that helps balance out green tea's bitterness.

5. Flower Power! 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!

Chamomile tea is also cooling, aids digestion and has mild sedating affect. Chamomile grows well in the Phoenix region during the Spring.

Hibiscus tea or agua de Jamaica comes from the roselle hibiscus plant. It grows well here in Phoenix during our hot summers. Dr. Anna has grown it in her garden! Is an antioxidant and high in polyphenols: therefore protecting against cancer, lowers blood pressure while lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides while increasing good cholesterol (HDL). Hibiscus promotes weigh loss. It also has anti-bacterial properties.

6. 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 EAM 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!

7. Crunch on celery: EAM and modern nutrition science agree on the amazing benefits of celery to reduce inflammation and promote heart health, it is excellent for arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and it also calms the nervous system, reducing anxiety. Eat in moderation due to the natural salts and oxalates. It is better to eat the whole plant than to juice celery. When you drink ONLY the juice of any veggie or fruit, you drink the 'sugar' and leave out all the fiber. This will cause blood sugar spikes. High blood sugar in EAM increases 'heat' - which is not advisable for most people, especially during the Summer.

8. Skip the Ice & add a pinch of Spice: paradoxically for heat, EAM 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!

9. 'Dry Summer' 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.

10. 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!

11. GuaSha or Scraping is well known for releasing heat from the body! It reduce heat exposure symptoms when applied to the neck and shoulders. Come to Yin Rising to get Gua Sha this summer to help you deal with summer heat!

12. Acupuncture! There are many Acupuncture points on the body that help clear heat from the body. Getting Acupuncture during the summer helps you cope with the Heat! The points we select are based on each patient's unique presentation. Each meridian has Fire points that are often paired with anti-pyretic (anti-fire) points, such as Li11 and Heart 8 on the palm. Stay cool this summer with Acupuncture at Yin Rising!

Dr. Anna Lunaria is a licensed Acupuncturist, licensed Massage therapist, Yoga therapist, and certified Hypnotherapist. Experience Dr. Anna Lunaria's East-West Integrative approach to help people heal naturally. Anna Lunaria practices a synergy of ancient Eastern medicine informed by modern evidence based scientific research to produces optimal results. Dr. Anna Lunaria specializes in chronic pain, Sports Medicine, allergies/autoimmune ElectroAcupuncture, Mind-Body Medicine and East Asian Medicine @ Yin Rising Acupuncture, Tempe and North Phoenix, AZ.


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