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Avoid a Damp Heat Invasion in Summer Using TCM

Damp heat causes unpleasant digestive disturbances that can arise after overindulging in summertime barbecues, pool parties and backyard gatherings. Heed some of these TCM nutrition tips to maintain health.

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. You can think of damp heat as excess moisture and water in the body.

You’ve probably experienced a bad bout of a damp heat invasion in the past. When food sits like a brick in your stomach; when your belly feels like it’s twisted in knots; when you have the urge to throw up; when you have to run to the bathroom; and other topics left unspoken at the dinner table … that’s when you know you’ve been invaded by Damp Heat.

Traditional Chinese Medicine can remove internal damp heat. StomaCare is one formula you should always have at your disposal this time of year (or any time of year), including when you go on a vacation (especially a cruise or to a developing country) or when you go out to eat.

Avoid Damp Heat 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, you could get the runs!

Avoid Damp Heat 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 for centuries, using all-natural botanical herbs, such as those found in StomaCare.

What do you do to stay healthy in summer? Let us know. Please share your comments.