Faint beads of sweat dripping from your brow. A fan blowing gently on your face, as you smile and enjoy the warmth from a cozy balcony, refreshing beverage in hand. Perfectly made finger sandwiches await you at an arm’s length, to nibble on as you enjoy the warm sun that glows your tan perfectly without malignant exposure.
Seriously? This has not been my idea of this season’s summer! As I move through the streets of the concrete jungle of New York City, I can feel the heat rise through my studded Aldo shoes and into my feet. The perfect makeup job I did before I left my apartment? At the mercy of the beating sun and humidity. This is the kind of weather where wearing nothing at all would not have made a difference in the least. And, along with the heat, the tempers flare, as well!
So, what can you do to beat the street heat, aside from slipping away into a Duane Reade to pretend you need to buy something, just so you can enjoy the air condition blast?:
- Drink lots of water, and stay hydrated.
- Walk slowly, and take rest breaks.
- Eat cooling foods. Although we Chinese Medicine practitioners always advocate cooked foods, especially when it comes to dealing with digestion issues, this time is a good time for introducing some cooling foods and readily available Chinese herbs, like:
- Watermelon (Xi Gua) – Yes, it’s a Chinese herb! It clears summerheat and replenishes fluids. As an extra added bonus, it also regulates urination and expels jaundice.
- Mung Beans (Lu Dou) – Excellent for clearing summerheat, as well. Boil for 15 minutes, season to taste, set aside, and you have a great dish that is healthy, full of protein, and helps to clear up acne!
- Peppermint (Bo He) – Another clearing summerheat herb, it actually helps with digestive problems as well. So, if you’re a pregnant woman with nausea, or recovering from chemotherapy, peppermint tea is a soothing choice. And if you’re stressed from the heat, peppermint’s a great herb to steep because it relaxes the Liver (the Liver being out of balance can show as irritability, pressure or pain in the chest flanks, or depression.) It’s also a great herb to drink as a tea when you have an oncoming cold with symptoms like red eyes, sore throat, and fever.
In fact, there’s a great and simple recipe I like to call Stress Less tea, which includes peppermint to help relax the Liver:
Stress Less Tea
1/2 teaspoon kava kava root
1/2 teaspoon dried peppermint leaves
Bring water to a boil, and pour it over the kava kava root and dried peppermint leaves in a cup, using a single serve strainer. Steep for 15 minutes. Add honey (which has natural antibiotic properties), and drink while still hot (but not so hot that it burns your tongue!)
Use equal parts of the kava kava root and dried peppermint leaves if you’d like to make a pitcher of iced tea, which is a delicious option! After bringing water to a boil, pour over a handful each of kava kava root and peppermint leaves in a caning jar, and steep for at least 20 minutes, adding honey or other sweetener, to taste, before closing the lid. Then, refrigerate for a few hours, and serve.
If you’d like to let the sun do its work, mix the kava kava root and pepper mint leaves in water, add sweetener, and leave it out in the sun for 3-4 hours.
Either way, you get the kava kava’s benefits of easing the central nervous system, helping with anxiety and insomnia. And you get the clearing heat, digestive help, liver easing properties, and zing of the peppermint.
Enjoy! And stay cool.
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