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How To Survive Southwest Summers (And summers everywhere, actually)

There it was - the weather report. Record temperatures. Sizzling. Facebook replete with amusing pics and captions of everything from baking cookies on the dashboard of a car, to broiling pork chops on a pan on the sidewalk.

I knew what to expect from my clients, I was already having those funky abdominal crampy things for no apparent reason, as if I didn't know. Every summer from June till September I have 'summer heat' signs and symptoms like I'd learned in acupuncture school. And so do most of my clients - friends, associates, and even the check-out lady at Safeway.

So what do we do with 'summer heat?' What is it, really? See if this describes anything you might be experiencing right now during our heat?

  • Mild to moderate nausea

  • No appetite

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Episodic bouts of flushing and fever

  • Headaches

  • Heaviness

  • Bloating

  • Insomnia

  • Thirst

  • Irritability, crankiness - even rage!

  • Fuzzy thinking

  • Inability to sweat

Okay - here are a few facts:

  1. On any one particular day you will experience anywhere from 6 to dozens of TOTAL climactic changes!

  2. Drinking icy cold drinks and eating copious amounts of raw foods will make you worse.

  3. Drinking alcohol and eating starchy processed and greasy foods will make you feel worse.

Let's have a look at the first one.

You will go from 65 degrees (public buildings, etc.), to 100 or 110 or even 120 degrees in a matter of minutes! You will do this dozens of times a day all summer! This is one of the hardest things your body can experience. Your pituitary, adrenal, and thyroid glands are in overdrive. Your skin and lungs have to accommodate to support your immunity, and your digestive system can't figure out if it is summer or winter.

My clients often ask me why they shouldn't drink icy drinks and eat raw cold foods. Isn't this what we're supposed to do in the heat of summer? Chinese medicine says emphatically, "NO!"

An example: heat up a frying pan on the stove - better yet, make it a cast iron frying pan. That's it, get it good and hot.

Now take a little ice water and toss it on that pan. What happens? ZZZSSSSSS!! and steam rises, it spurts and fizzles!! Guess what? Same thing happens to your stomach when you drink icy drinks and eat raw foods. Steam. Phlegm. Dampness. Where does it go? Well, it kind of lingers there - makes you nauseous, disturbs digestion, bogs you down, fluids don't move and your ankles swell, you can't get your rings on or your belt closed very well. You're bloated and you feel like crap. Oh no, here comes the muzzy headache. Yuck.

Drink chilled or room-temperature drinks, skip the ice.

Have warm-temperature foods. Steam your veggies, have a light soup, some herbal tea, and eat smaller portions more often. If you MUST eat raw, have a little warm soup along with that, or heat up some grain for the top of your salad. Use vinegar and oil instead of Bleu Cheese dressing. If you eat meat, avoid lamb and dark meat chicken. Pork is cooler energetically. (That doesn't mean you can eat a pound of bacon!) Less fat means less stress on your digestion.

What about protein shakes and smoothies, you ask? These produce dampness, phlegm, and aggravate summer heat. Just sayin.' Warm cereals, eggs, congees are best. Add a little fresh fruit to these warm temperature breakfasts for added nutrition.

Go ahead - what are your ideas, questions, rebuttals, and suggestions?? Would love to see them here! There will be more about 'summer heat' in our next blog. For now, let's hear from you.

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