5 Ayurvedic Summer Spices to Cool You Off
by Vanessa Voltolina
While many of us look forward to the longer, warmer days of summer, sometimes it can be too hot, forcing us to retreat into air conditioning or take a dip in the pool. And according to Ayurveda, summertime–known as the “Pitta,” or the fire season—can require specific cooling spices.
For those unfamiliar with the ancient art of Ayurveda, doshas are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind, said to govern all physical and mental processes and are associated with each individual’s health and fulfillment. Doshas are derived from the five elements: Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water.
According to Naina Marballi, B.S.A.M. DAC, Ayurveda physician at Ayurvedas World in New York, Pitta “rules metabolism, particularly digestion, and is in charge of all processes of transformation in the body.” She goes on to explain that Pitta has the most in common with summer, since it’s made up of primary element fire, and secondary element water. Pitta can lead to excess inflammation, acne, rash, sweating and even heatstroke, if we’re not careful.
Although Pitta is associated with summer, you don’t have to battle these uncomfortable qualities. Integrate one—or all—of these five cooling spices into your warm weather meals and beverages so you’re better able to enjoy everything that summer has to offer:
1: Fennel increases digestive and gastric juices without aggravating Pitta, explains Marballi. According to Ayurveda, fennel also reduces inflammation of the stomach and intestine—which is said to increase in summer—and helps absorb nutrients. It also has antacid properties, which help maintain pH levels in the GI tract. “It is excellent to use fennel in food,” she says, “which helps to protect eyes from inflammation and has very good cooling effect in summer.”
2. Rose petals improve digestion by remaining cooling for the fiery digestive tract of most Pittas. “The astringency of rose petals directly cools digestive irritation and inflammation,” Marballi says.
Try this: Tazo Rest Tea (make it iced for summer!)
3. Mint can be used to lighten and improve the appearance of sun-damaged and pigmented skin, says Marballi. Her recommendation? “Grind mint leaves, mix them with rosewater and lemon juice, and apply it [the mixture] to the affected areas,” she says. It can also provide relief from heartburn in the initial stages. “It is an excellent remedy for Pitta aggravation,” she says. “Mint helps to sooth Pitta by dispersing heat and cooling you down by opening up your pores to encourage sweating.”
Try this: Frozen Mint Lemonade
4. Turmeric has excellent astringent qualities, making it a very good cooling spice during the summertime. “It is a liver cleanser and blood purifier, helping control cholesterol, as well as anti-inflammatory, anti-allergen, and anti-bacterial,” she says. This gives turmeric excellent qualities of cooling off summer-heated skin.
Try this: Kamalaya Recipe: Happy Tummy Tea
5. Dill is excellent digestive tonic, says Marballi, helping to reduce acid reflux and calm stomach upset. The “green color of dill leaves have an amazing capacity to fight free radicals,” she says, “and have the very good quality of being anti-bacterial.”
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