Herbal Necessities for your Summer
In the summer, it is especially important to give the digestive system a boost. Agni (the digestive fire) is naturally low during this season as the body seeks to keep cool by dispersing heat throughout the system. That’s why nature provides lighter and easier-to-digest foods in the summer season. Summer fruits and vegetables also play a role in detoxifying your liver and cleansing the digestive tract. A healthy digestive tract boost your immune system and will keep you healthy into the fall and winter flu seasons.
If signs of pitta imbalance are becoming present, or you have a sense that ama (toxicity) may be accumulating from poor digestion, it may be time to do a summertime cleanse. In Ayurveda, gently cleansing with whole foods and herbs can be the perfect way to get rid of any left-over kapha imbalances from the spring and wash away any pitta imbalances that have accumulated. Signs of pitta imbalances show up as physical and emotional disturbances such as excessive internal heat, red or irritated skin, burning sensations, irritability, frustration, and intolerance. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, here are some ayurvedic herbal remedies that can help cleanse and wash away excess pitta.
1. Coriander (Cilantro):
Coriander is a cooling spice that stimulates the appetite by igniting agni without creating excess heat and acidity. It helps in detoxing the liver and kidneys making it one of the best herbs to use to detox excess pitta.
Coriander seeds can be used in cooking or even tea and the fresh leaves (cilantro) can be used to garnish dishes.
Fennel is also a cooling spice that ignites agni without stimulating any excess heat and acidity. It calms the nerves and the muscles, which can be a common symptom for pitta imbalances.
Fennel seed is commonly used in cooking with coriander, and can be used to saute summer veggies. However it can also be found in some teas.
Licorice is an herb that is especially good at calming the nervous system. This is key in pitta season when irritability and frustration are common. Another benefit is that it aids in healthy function of the respiratory system, allowing for healthy flow of oxygen which is important in both physical function, but cognitive function as well.
Licorice is most commonly used in tea, but can also be used in cooling massage oils for your summer Abhyanga practice.
Rose calms the heart and nerves, and generates feelings of love and devotion. Cooling and soothing, rose supports the female reproductive system, nourishes the nervous system, and relieves feelings of anxiousness and stress.
This is most commonly used in tea, but can be used in rose water to cool the face, used in diffusing essential oils, and fresh rose petals can be used to garnish sweet dishes like a cool summer lassi.
5. Lemon Balm (Beebalm):
Lemon balm is related to the mint family, and because of its anti-inflammatory benefits, can aid in soothing irritated skin affected by acne, too much such exposure. This makes it an incredible herb for treating pitta imbalance. It is soothing to the skin, but also the mind.
Lemon balm is commonly found in skin care products and topical applications, but can be used in herbal teas, or freshly cooked with.
Sun Tea Recipes:
Sun teas soak up the solar energy, which in moderate amounts is nourishing and strengthening to the system. It can be an easy way of including any of these herbs into your day. Can be served warm or over ice.
Important Tips for Sun Tea:
Use a large, clean mason jar, with a lid. Preferably 64 oz size (half gallon).
Use high quality herbs and spices. If you use fresh herbs, fill your jar to the top. If using dry herbs, use about 2 tablespoons of each.
Fill your jar with warm water, or freshwater.
Seal your jar tightly and allow it to sit in the full sun for 8 hours, or let it sit overnight for additional moon energy.
Ayurvedic Sun Tea Recipe:
Handful of fresh Lemon balm (2 tbsp if dried)
Handful of fresh spearmint (2 tbsp if dried)
2 Tablespoons dried Raspberry Leaf
2-3 tablespoons dried Rose hips
1-2 pods of cardamom seeds
Optional - 2 tablespoons of honey
If using fresh herbs, wash before adding to the jar. Place all ingredients into your jar and fill with water. If adding honey, you can add the honey directly into the jar and shake it up, or combine honey with a little bit of warm water before adding it to the jar for easier mixing.
Place in a full sun spot for anywhere between 4-8 hours, or leave overnight.
Once steeped to desired strength, strain out herbs and spices and enjoy at room temp or serve over a bit of ice!