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Cooling, anti-inflammatory and calming to hot summer skin:
Summer is the time of sun and fun but with the heat often comes inflammation. In Ayurveda, this is referred to as a high “Pitta” time. In Chinese Medicine it would be high “Fire”. See my explanation of the doshas (Ayurvedic constitutions). The goal is to have a balance of doshas, tri-doshic.
To give insight to Ayurvedic thinking, Pitta is transformation and digestions. It’s purpose it to metabolize food and ideas. Pitta influences are more apparent in the hot months and whether you have pitta as part of your constitution (dosha), it is wise to watch for signs of an imbalance and to know how to temper your fire.
When excessive pitta accumulates in the body and/or mind, the negative side of pitta is expressed. You might experience heat in the head or face, redness, puffiness, burning eyes, arthritis, burning indigestion, anger and/or jealousy. It is important to understand that every constitution has positive attributes as well as some not so positive attributes. On the positive side, pitta people tend to be sharp minded, creative, adaptable and energetic.
While there are certainly medications and herbal supplements to help with most expressions of pitta, there are some simple steps we can take to prevent them or to lessen the effects.
These steps include helpful choices and not so helpful choices. Because I am forever “the glass is half full” kind of gal, I’m going to start with the things that are helpful in keeping your “pitta” or “fire” in balance.
When pitta is high, it is important to seek out healthy ways to bring the heat down to a comfortable and healthy level. A simple and enjoyable way to do this is to activate our Coconut Milk and Honey Face Mask with aloe vera juice. With the added benefit of calendula petals grown on SongCroft Farm, this is an especially cooling mask.
When pitta is high, it is important to have foods that have a cooling effect, both physically and energetically. Foods with a high water element help to dampen fire as their are the opposite of the intense, fiery, dry pitta. Grapes, mango, melon and cherries are all wonderful and available to most people in the summer. Cucumber and celery as especially cooling and should be included in juices, salads, soups, snacks or wherever you can. Dill, cilantro and fennel are also fantastic choices. Foods that are liquid and lukewarm or cool rather than dry and hot are best during the summer months.
Bitter foods are wonderful for high pitta because they support digestion which is often hot and uncomfortable in high pitta people. Bitter foods help to tonify the digestive system. Dark leafy greens are a wonderful food to eat during the hot months as they are cooling (the most cooling according to Chinese Medicine) as well as bitter.
Of course, drinking lots of water is important to cooling your body and to prevent dehydration.A little known fact is that when the body has excessive heat, it will often stimulate urination as urine in the body is warm and the elimination of the urine cools the body. With this in mind, it is easy to understand that between urination, sweat and hot weather, it is easy to become dehydrated in the hot months. Coconut water is a great choice because of it’s high electrolyte content. I would also like it noted that drinking water at room temperature is much better for cooling the body. Ice water lowers the body temperature suddenly which makes the body heat up to try to neutralize the effect. The result is more body heat instead of less.
Some wonderfully cooling botanicals oils and essences that have help tp pacify pitta are rose, jasmine and ylang ylang. You will find our Frankincense and Rose Toner as well as our Frankincense and Rose Moisturizer to be wonderful in the summer months. They are calming to redness, cooling in nature, anti-inflammatory and perfect for preventing dry parched summer skin.
So now that I gave you an abundance of things to help you keep cool during the hot summer months, let me share some things to avoid. Foods and beverages that promote inflammation should be avoided. These include coffee, trans fats (hydrogenated oils in most processed foods), sugar, gluten, and alcohol.
Tomatoes, peppers and potatoes which are all in the night shade family are also something that I suggest people avoid if they are concerned about stiff joints and inflammation in general. This is not to say that you can’t have a little here and there but if you are experiencing high pitta, these are things to avoid or at the very least, use in moderation.
Isn’t it nice to have information so that you can make healthy choices?
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