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June Blog Party: Beating the Heat of Summer
posted on Sunday, June 20th 2010 11:26 am

This month’s Blog Party is hosted by me! The topic is Beating the Heat of Summer with Herbs. Anything to do with the sun is game! Sunscreens, sunburn treatment, heat exhaustion and just keeping your cool with herbs are some things that come to mind. For more ways to beat the heat, see the bottom of my post for other herbalists’ posts on the topic!

Earlier this morning, my partner was suffering from a mild case of heat exhaustion. One of the first things I did for him was make him a mix of homemade electrolytes to drink:

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (i used Himalayan pink)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons raw honey
1 quart water

While not very appetizing, it is helpful for getting the body back into balance. The flavor could be enhanced by making a tea from peppermint which is beneficial for treating heat exhaustion (see below).

The most important thing to do when suffering from heat exhaustion is to get the body temperature back down and the body rehydrated. Lying in a cool room, misting yourself with a water bottle and/or placing a cool, damp washcloth on the back of your neck are all very helpful for cooling the body temperature. Drinking the electrolyte drink helps to rehydrate the body and bring it back into balance since sweating can cause the body to lose important minerals.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Thirst
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Mild temperature elevations

If the body temperature goes above 104 degrees F, risk of heat stroke is great so it is important to get the body cool.

To treat his symptoms and give him some comfort while he was recuperating, I made a tea of peppermint and ginger and added some meadowsweet tincture. This tea not only treated the symptoms but was also helpful for correcting the root of the problem. Peppermint and ginger are long known to treat nausea and upset stomachs. Ginger is high in potassium and magnesium and peppermint is high in calcium, magnesium and potassium, all of which are needed when treating heat exhaustion. ¬†Peppermint is cooling which is helpful for bringing down the body’s temperature. Ginger also has cooling properties, by causing the body to sweat which lowers the body temperature. Since I didn’t necessarily want him to sweat some and lose more water, I waited until the tea cooled down to have him drink it which would negate some of the sweating properties of the tea.

Meadowsweet is great for treating headaches. It contains salicylic acid which is what aspirin was created from. It is also gentle on the stomach and makes a great companion for treating combinations of headaches and stomachaches.

By the time he had finished the tea and electrolytes, he was feeling much better. While heat exhaustion is nothing to fool around with, if caught soon enough and treated quickly, the situation is easy to reverse. Prevention is always the best medicine! Not working during the heat of the day on strenuous activities, or stopping work when you start to feel overheated, wear loose, lightweight clothing, drinking plenty of fluids (adding a pinch of sea salt to your water is important because replacing fluids with just water is not enough) that are cool but not icy and wearing a damp bandana or washcloth around your neck are all ways to help prevent heat exhaustion.

And now for some more herbalists’ articles on the topic of Beating the Heat of Summer:

Sean wrote about herbal first aid for heat exhaustion

Rosalee wrote a lovely article on making chamomile popsicles

Kristena of Dreamseeds wrote a great article full of fun tips for keeping cool, including using essential oils and a reminder about drinking cold, alcoholic beverages this time of the year

Karen Vaughn wrote about cooling summer herbal beverages and lists her top 10 favorite summertime drinks

Cory wrote about a nifty trick to help keep cool using flax seeds

Herban Chica wrote about her favorite summer tea

Keep checking back. I’ll add more posts as they become ready!

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