As we relish in the last remaining weeks of summer, let’s take our minds off the tan lines and beach bodies for moment, and think about what the season means in terms of Chinese medicine. According to that well-established tradition, the summer season corresponds to the Fire element. The organs associated with nourishing our fire include the heart and circulatory system and the small intestine.
There are a number of foods and herbs that will restore the fire element in our bodies. Garlic is one of the most beneficial foods that we can eat during summer season. Garlic purifies the blood and thus helps the heart. Most garlic in the supermarket is grown in China, transported frozen by ship and then kept frozen until it hits the shelf. That’s why the garlic begins to sprout when we get it home on our counter. So buying locally grown garlic that is super fresh is our best option. Here on the farm, garlic is our biggest summer crop with lots of varieties on their way. The spring rains brought the best garlic crop in years.
Herbs that promote the fire element and benefit the circulatory system and the small intestine include licorice root, ginger root, and fenugreek and fennel seeds. These can be steeped in a seed tea to aid digestion for summer. Cayenne pepper stimulates heat in the body and also acts as a blood cleanser.
Sun or lunar tea made with herbs that cleanse the blood to create a general tonic for the organs is perfectly refreshing beverage with the long days of summer. These herbs include peppermint leaf, hibiscus flowers, lemongrass, red clover blossoms, borage flowers, and chamomile flowers. Just place the fresh herbs in a clear glass jar with water for two days/nights and then refrigerate.
Ginseng root also strengthens the heart. It is best prepared by the ancient Asian method. This involves preparing the root in a double boiler with water so that it cooks on low heat for a long time, between 6-8 hours. This ginseng water is a great rejuvenator to rekindle the fire spirit.
Keep your body in synch with nature’s cycle by stoking your fire through the heat of summer. Chinese medicine recommends invigorating herbs to promote better digestion and circulation. And, of course, it’s always a good idea to nourish your body and spirit with local, seasonal produce.
PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas Evans (Unsplash)