Oh where to begin!?
There’s so much going on in the plant kingdom that needs our awareness ~ from ripening berries to blossoms showing off to pollinators to trees adding another ring of growth. The Summer Solstice is this weekend which marks the longest day of the year. We are at our peak in terms of the seasonal wave.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we have entered heart/large intestine season. It’s interesting that a tonic herb for the heart (which flowered in May), Hawthorn, also helps us digest fats and proteins (specifically, the berries formed in the Fall). With both a cardiovascular and digestive application, the flowers, berries, and leaves of this herbal
ally are great for the Summer months. Make a syrup from the berries or make a cordial with the flowers/berries in brandy and honey! Sip as needed!
With the reality of the long day, there is added heat in our bodies. Some are easier to anger this time of year. Likewise, we can tap into diaphoretic herbs that help us sweat a bit to move heat out of the body ~ elder flowers and most of the plants in the mint family, for example. The extra heat during the summer can put a burden on the heart. So cooling down the body is of great help.
Counter to what is common practice in the US, reaching for a iced beverage does not really assist the body in moving heat OUT Of the body. Rather, it dampens or suppresses the heat and traps it in the body with the cold. Drinking room temp or even hot mint tea will move the heat out of the system. You can also infuse mint in vinegar and use that as a hair rinse for the summer-time (let it sit for 4-6 weeks and then strain).
Many of the aromatic and pleasing mints like peppermint, spearmint, and lemon balm also relax smooth muscles along the arteries and certain organs. Herbalist Guido Mase of Vermont describes their affect as ‘open and flow’ to the literal physiology of the body as well as the energetics of the body. So, in terms of blood flow, ease of circulation, clearing heat, and lightening and brightening your mood, mints are who to turn to.
I also suggest some yogic inversions, such as shoulder stand, legs up the wall, handstand/shoulderstand/headstand (whatever is in your practice) for this time of year. Allowing the blood to easily move toward the heart is very replenishing for the heart muscle.
So, remember to cool off, tend to the heart, and take some deep breaths as we top out at the peak of this seasonal wave!
Mark your calendars ~
I will be teaching at the 10th Annual SE Women’s Herb Conference in Black Mountain, NC