Monday, August 7, 2006

An herbal way to beat the heat

On my other blog site I've written an article about cooling off without having to run the air conditioner.

Air conditioners are useful in making our houses more livable. However, the cost to air conditioners is they amplify the advance of global warming. There's more details on the blog entry (linked above) but this acceleration of global warming happens because air conditioners effectively shift heat from inside buildings to outside, plus the electricity required to run the air conditioner adds carbon to the atmosphere directly affecting the greenhouse gasses and directly causing more climate change.

For the time being it's perhaps best to avoid air conditioners. Perhaps in the future humanity might develop a way to generate electricity without adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. Well, some methods for that have already been developed, but the powers that be don't see it fit to actually deploy those methods. So for the time being the use of air conditioners will simply make the heating problem worse. It's kind of like squeezing a baloon, which just makes the baloon plump up elsewhere.

Anyway .. I want to discuss a little about herbal ways to cool off.

Air conditioning is a recent invention, which means our ancestors have for thousands of years been developing ways to beat the heat using other means.

I want to go over some herbal treatments to help one cool off, which come from Healing with the Herbs of Life

First let's discuss a general principle. Every herb or food substance has a heating or cooling nature. That nature isn't directly related to the temperature of the thing, but has to do with the chemical and energetic makeup of the herb or food. For example cinnamon is a heating herb, and the company that makes the Red Hots candy knows this very well because Red Hots are made from cinnamon.

If you ingest a heating food or herb on a hot day, that's just going to make your body hotter. Likewise if you ingest a cooling food or herb on a hot day, that'll make your body cooler. And, again, this doesn't have to do with the temperature of the thing, though a cold beverage of course will have an cooling effect. We're just looking at a way to amplify it by also using the right herbs or foods.

Cools and releases the exterior: These are said to be used for "wind heat" conditions that inlcude sweating and thirst, severe sore throat, intense headache, etc. Mint, peppermint, Lemon, Chrysanthemum, feverfew, boneset

Clear summer heat: This has to do with over-exposure to heated conditions, heat exhaustion, profuse sweating, fever, irritability, sunburn, sunstroke, etc. Diuretics and antipyretics are recommended, with examples being watermelon, mung bean, soybeans and cucumber.

There are other heat conditions covered in the book. However, just like the heating or cooling nature of herbs do not have anything to do with the temperature of the herb, so do the conditions that chinese medicine calls heat. For example inflammation is a heat condition, which you can see for yourself because the inflamed muscles are themselves hot to the touch. The herbal way to treat inflamation is with herbs that cool inflammation such as gardenia or bungleweed.

It's interesting that watermelon and cucumber are both popular summertime foods, and they are recommended as a method to clear summer heat. If you think about how watermelon or cucumber salad feels in your mouth, don't they have a cold nature? It's that cold nature that the herbalists recognize as producing the cooling effect in your body.

Mint is an interesting example. In the Middle East there's a traditional drink, senkajabin, which is made with mint. There's also the Mint Julep, a popular drink in the Old South. Even if you make a hot tea with mint, it will cool you off. Isn't that interesting?