By Edie O’Reilly
Ayurveda teaches us that we all have a natural balance of the 5 basic elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth). These elements will fluctuate and change depending on what we are eating, what we are doing, where we live, what our age is, and what season it is. While the elements are always moving, we can learn to be in tune with our bodies to counter the effects of them getting too high in our systems. It is only when these elements get too high that there is a concern for our health.
Summer time is the time when the element of fire is dominant due to the closeness of the sun to the earth. Some of us may be experiencing signs or symptoms of too much fire within our bodies. These symptoms would include increased anger and irritability, skin irritations such as rashes and acne, loose stools or diarrhoea, acid reflux, heartburn and infections. These are all signs that the fire element in your body has become too high, which is common during this season. If these symptoms aren’t taken care of they can lead to more serious illnesses that can have an effect on your health and well-being.
In Ayurveda, we learn that the qualities of an element can be balanced by using their opposites. The qualities of fire are hot, light and dry. You can counter the effects of too much fire by choosing foods that have the opposite qualities such as cooling, heavy and moist. In general, foods that are naturally ripe or ready to eat will balance most people during a specific season. For example, melons are ripe during summer; they are cooling to the body, heavy due to the water content, and moist. Melons are a natural way to beat the heat.
Here are some more ways to beat the heat.
Cucumbers: Cucumbers can be eaten or used in body products to help cool down the system.
Aloe Vera: Aloe is used for many body products and is best used in the summer time when our bodies have extra heat. The aloe plant can also be consumed as juice or gel to aid in cooling down the body internally.
Fresh Coriander: Coriander is an herb that will naturally cool down the system, especially the skin. For any heated skin irritation, you can blend fresh coriander leaves with a little water or aloe gel to help in greatly cooling down and combating skin irritations. You can also assist the skin in cooling down by adding coriander to foods as a spice.
Rose: The rose flower is great for cooling down the body and again it has been used for centuries in beauty products. You can drink rose water or smell the essential oil of rose to aid the body in cooling down. Adding a tablespoon of rose water to fresh lemonade in the summer time will make a refreshing drink that will cool you down.
Mints: Any mint will help to cool down the body. You can make a tea with fresh mint by boiling water in a saucepan. Then, once the water has boiled, turn off the heat and add the fresh mint leaves to the water. Never boil fresh leaves, as it greatly depletes the vital, medicinal oils found in the leaf. You can also add fresh mint leaf to salads, sauces or drinks.
Green leafy vegetables: Now is the time to eat salads. Green leafy vegetables are considered bitter and will greatly cool down the body. If you are feeling over heated this summer, having a fresh green salad with a variety of raw vegetables will help to keep the body in balance and will give you a kick of energy.
There are many foods you can eat this summer to aid you with whatever ails you. Knowing what your body needs in each season can greatly improve your health and your overall energy levels.
Edie O’Reilly is a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist trained in the United States and India. She offers consultations, body treatments, workshops and courses in Ayurveda. firstname.lastname@example.org