Beat the Heat

Beat the Heat
Laura Gabbé, MS, LAc

We all know how those dog days of August can leave us hot and dragging, lethargic, with low appetites, restless nights, and sometimes headaches, queasy stomachs or diarrhea. Should you suffer that, an ancient cure is right there in your kitchen or at the corner store – mung beans and watermelon.

That’s right. These readily available items are part of an ancient healing tradition. Thousands of years ago, people in China suffered long, hot and humid summers without the benefits of air-conditioning, refrigeration or electric fans. They had to use their natural resources to keep cool. One of the ways they did this was through diet – eating and drinking substances that stimulated the body’s own cooling mechanisms.

Mung beans and watermelon are listed in the Chinese herbal material medica as two of the main treatments for the common effects of hot weather described above. In the traditional texts this is referred to as: “Invasion of Summerheat.”

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Everyone’s heard this well-known adage. In this case we can take it literally: Combine four ounces (_ cup) of dried mung beans in four cups of water, bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes, strain, then cool, for a tea that prevents the invasion of summerheat.

The watermelon’s easy: eat as much as you like, as often as you like. Or, juice it and drink a cup of juice several times a day in hot weather.

Now in some cases summerheat can best be handled by seeing your local Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner for some acupuncture and herbal medicine. For example, if you have mild but persistent symptoms such as nausea, low appetite, malaise or loose stool, consider getting TCM. (Of course, if you have more severe symptoms like shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, dizziness, fainting, or chest pain, – you should consult your Western MD first).

So when it’s too hot to handle – slurp up some watermelon, sip some mung bean tea and keep your cool.