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Damp Heat -- Staying Cool in Summer -- From The ActiveHerb.com Blog

Ditch the Damp-Heat: How TCM Nutrition Tips Can Help You Stay Cool During the Summer

Damp heat causes diarrhea, acid reflux and other symptoms related to summertime barbecues. Heed some of these TCM nutrition tips to stay cool during summer.

 

As this blog post on beating the late, damp summer heat is written, San Diego, CA, ActiveHerb.com headquarters, feels like a swamp. So, too, is most of North America. What perfect timing, then, to dispense some tips on staying cool….

Even if where you live is very humid, particularly in late summer, when the heat index can push ambient temperature past 100 degrees, there are some TCM principles and herbs that can keep your internal engine from overheating.

Baseball, Apple Pie and Lots of Damp-Heat-Encouraging Pastimes

Let’s start with traditional American summer pastimes…

When you think peak summer (and late, Indian summer) season, what comes to mind? Typically, there’s lots of ice cream, barbecues and beer. Summertime, for many Americans, involves lots of meat, dairy and alcohol (if not beer, then margaritas!). And, of course, an excess of sugar, which unfortunately in a Standard American Diet, occurs all year, not just in the heart of summer.

Consuming an excess amount of these typical summer foods and drinks encourages damp heat in the body.

Symptoms of internal damp heat include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Flu
  • Heat Stroke or Fever
  • Phlegm
  • Indigestion
  • Lack of energy

If you (or one of your friends or family) experiences one or more of these acute symptoms of internal damp heat, it’s good to have an all-natural remedy to help you feel better as quickly as possible. That’s why it’s always a smart idea to have on hand in your medicine chest our classic formula StomaCare.

StomaCare is very effective at removing internal damp heat quickly. In fact, you should take this formula with you wherever you go, no matter what time of year! It’s great to have StomaCare on hand in case of an emergency. Take it with you on a vacation (especially if you’re on a cruise), or when you go out to eat.

Damp Heat Avoidance in Late Summer: A Nutritional Perspective 

So what can you do to counteract the stagnancy of late summer, when drinking water just isn’t enough to cool you down and satisfy your thirst? The following are just a few of the foods and Chinese herbs that are beneficial to consume in late summer:

In addition to these foods and herbs, try to restrict your sugar intake, especially added sugars. Sugar creates more dampness. Having a beer (alcohol is a sugar) every now and then won’t likely add to the damp heat stagnation of the Spleen, but having an ice cream, birthday cake and lots of barbecue with your one beer will encourage more dampness.

Other foods for late-summer dampness

Low-starch grains are a great source of energy, especially in late summer. Think wild rice; millet, barley; ancient/heirloom wheats such as einkorn; teff; freekeh, and quinoa. (Technically quinoa is a seed, not a grain, but for the sake of this discussion, it will be lumped together with grains.)

Adding some lightly grilled or sauteed vegetables with a squeeze of lemon juice may help drain dampness from the spleen, which in turn should make you feel more energetic and less foggy-brained.

These foods also have the benefit of having anti-inflammatory properties. But to get the maximum benefit of these damp-heat-draining foods, avoid overeating as this burdens Stomach and Spleen. Eat until your stomach is about three-quarters full.

Other Organs Affected by Summer Heat

By now, you’re aware of how typical western foods eaten in late summer affect the complex and sensitive Spleen-Stomach relationship. But excess dampness and heat also affects Lungs and Large Intestine. That’s because dampness tends to accumulate in the Lungs. When the Lungs are saturated with dampness, coughing and phlegm may occur. Eating freezing-cold ice cream or fried foods may also affect Large Intestine. When this happens, loose stools or diarrhea may occur.

Stay Cool in Summer: Conclusion

The urge to beat the late summer heat by eating lots of ice cream and drinking lots of ice-cold beverages may seem like the natural thing to do, but in fact, it’s akin to adding fuel to the fire. Or, a better analogy would be adding water to a dehumidifier. Internal damp heat stemming from overindulging in rich, fatty foods and alcohol isn’t a recent American phenomenon. Traditional Chinese medicine physicians have been treating patients for gluttony-induced internal damp heat symptoms for centuries, using all-natural botanical herbs, such as those found in StomaCare.

What do you do to beat the late summer heat and humidity? Let us know. Please share your comments.

  • Elene

    Oh, for heaven’s sake! Spleen is a Yin organ, yes. But have you EVER heard of Spleen Yin deficiency? Of course you haven’t! Spleen Yang is what tends to be deficient. That’s why cold, dampening foods are supposed to be injurious to the Spleen. The idea of Spleen being a Yin organ simply means that it’s solid, unlike the hollow organs such as Gall Bladder. This is really basic, first-semester acupuncture school stuff.

    You’re talking about getting rid of Dampness, which is a form of excess Yin, and then suddenly you’re talking about tonifying Yin to get rid of Dampness! You say that bitter foods are drying, then you say they’re Yin tonics, meaning just the opposite! You’re not making any sense. I’d hate to have any of my patients try to read this.

    Elene Gusch, DOM

    • Sheldon Li

      Hi Elene,

      Thank you so much for your comment. You have the right understanding of TCM. Sorry for the confusion the blog has caused. We have made appropriate changes. Again we appreciate your contribution.