Summer Heat Exposure


Heat Exposure

Summer Heat is an external pernicious influence that results from exposure to extreme levels of heat. Symptoms include aversion to heat, spontaneous sweating, severe thirst, dizziness, headache, lassitude, shortness of breath, irritability, weakness, nausea, vomiting, and fullness of the abdomen. There are many forms and degrees of Summer Heat. Severe forms involve high fever and convulsions while others present like a common cold with sinus issues. Sunstroke Summer Heat may include feeling faint, unconsciousness (syncope), fever, and cold extremities. In Chinese Medicine (CM), we say that the heat blocks the flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body and therefore there are cold limbs. The extreme heat also blocks the clear openings of the body therefore there is a loss of consciousness.

So, how do we protect against Summer Heat? Naturally, we seek shade, wear hats, and cool off when needed. One great way to protect oneself from Summer Heat is with foods that clear Summer Heat and cool the body. Today’s highlighted foods are watermelon (Xi Gua) and mung beans (Lu Dou).


Watermelon and Mung Beans

In Chinese Medicine (CM), we say that watermelon has sweet and cold properties and enters the heart, stomach, and urinary bladder acupuncture channels. The edible red part of the watermelon clears Summer Heat, relieves thirst, and promotes urination (mild diuretic). Although watermelon drains the toxic heat through urination, it also has a remarkable ability to replenish bodily fluids. The watermelon rind has a similar function compared with the edible red part of the fruit. When cooked into a tea, the rind is weaker at clearing summer heat but is a stronger diuretic. This is why the watermelon rind is a good home remedy for painful urination due to heat exposure. To prevent the side effects of heat exposure, mung beans can be cooked into a tea or served as a soup. Simply drink the tea from taking 15-30 grams of mung beans boiled in three cups of water for about 20 minutes.



Electrolytes must be given once a person has come down with a case of heat exposure. Typically, there is dizziness, faintness, nausea, and malaise. At this stage, drinking pure water may increase nausea and induce vomiting. Instead, consume small sips of an electrolyte drink like Recharge (from the health food store) or mainstream products like Gatorade. Drinking small sips slowly over time while resting in a cool, shaded area is helpful. Many health food stores sell little powdered packets of electrolytes that can be added to water. They are great when travelling and are healthier choices than canned sodas.

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