I’m a big ski bum and I love the fall and spring, but there is something about summer that is irresistible (maybe it was all the conditioning from childhood when summer equaled no school). Summer is dynamic, transformative and ripe with potential. Even if your favorite season is fall, you can’t help but love and appreciate the warm, bright, life giving sun.
Along with all the joy and abundance of summer comes dry heat, unending invitations and a big, sometimes exhausting energy . Suddenly all those ideas you had in the spring are taking concrete form, your world starts moving quicker, and it is easy to burn out (or just burn—please don’t forget your healthy tan or sunscreen!).
In most traditions, Summer is the season of fire (makes sense), fire is about personal power, activity, fertility and change. It is about taking charge and following your passions. Summer is the time of the harvest, when the sun brings light, life, hope and a bounty of food.
In Chinese medicine, summer is connected to joy, the small intestine and the heart. So, during this time, we need to support our joyfulness, our compassion, and our heart driven action. The heart also rules blood and circulation, so summer is also a good season to get plenty of cardiovascular exercise—get outside and go hiking, biking, swimming, camping, fishing, you get it.
Questions to ask yourself during this season are:
1. What can I do to have more joy than I ever thought possible?
2. Where do I create or un-create joy in my life?
If you’re feeling overexcited, overworked or you have too many obligations and can’t seem to follow through on all of them, you might be experiencing too much fire. It’s time to cool down. Try eating come cooling foods, like cucumber or watermelon and drink some delicious marshmallow root tea.
Marshmallow root is one of my favorite herbs to have on hand during Colorado summers. It is a demulcent herb, meaning that it is moistening and cooling – perfect for the dry, hot days we get here. I use it to soothe hot, angry, inflamed digestive issues, such as acid reflux or IBS. It also helps heal your gut by forming a protective layer around the junctions in your gut lining. A yummy tea to brew cold and drink in the summer is Marshmallow Mint Tea.
Marshmallow Mint Tea
3TBS Marshmallow root
½ TBS Spearmint or Peppermint
2tsp Licorice root
Combine the herbs in a cloth tea bag and pour cold water* over them. Cover with the lid and leave them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you’ll have a nice, goopy, stomach healer to drink instead of (or with) your morning coffee.
*You use cold water to brew the tea to protect all the mucilaginous, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties of the root.
If you’re just not feeling the fire this season or if you feel cold, weak or worn down, try using some blood building herbs like ginger and hawthorn or eat some warming basmati rice with turmeric, fennel, coriander and black pepper. Hawthorn is a true heart protector, docs have been using it to treat heart disease as far back as the early 1800s (at least in America). Both human and animal studies have shown that it protects against heart disease, improves circulation and lowers blood pressure—plus, it’s an antioxidant (move over acerola berries). A great way to enjoy hawthorn this summer is to make Hawthorn-Hibiscus Lemonade.
Hawthorn Hibiscus Lemonade
2 TBS Hawthorn berries
1 TBS Hibiscus flowers
1-2 Cinnamon sticks
Brew the herbs in three cups of boiling water for 10 – 15 minutes. Let cool and then mix with lemonade or add the juice of two fresh lemons and 2-3 TBS of honey. Put on your straw hat and sunglasses and enjoy on your porch
Above all else, enjoy the summer! Have picnics, grill in the park, and cook with all the fresh herbs!