Summers are warm to hot and these days with climate changes they are even hotter. Gardening for almost 50 years I know it's hotter because of how it feels on my skin and the look of the plants. So air conditioning and swimming aside, how can herbs help to keep us energetic (I get so slow and tired in all the heat) and cool, comfortable and able to enjoy this exquisite fruiting and flowering season.
There are a few obvious ways like mint chopped into food, added to fruit smoothies and cool teas. The same is true for lemon and lime, even just a twist in your water bottle. Which brings up hydration as a primary way to stay functional and happy in the heat. A few quarts of water or half of your body’s weight in ounces is a rule of thumb.
People tend to go for ice, but cool probably is easier on the stomach but I do love mineral-rich Nettles and Oats tea with a spoonful or raw honey and some oat milk over ice in a bottle. I make the tea strong and as the ice melts in my car or in the garden or on a hike it adds even more water.
I find flowers quite cooling and calming in summer. My favorite drink lately cooled or room temperature is skullcap herb, a stellar nervine and so calming with rose petal extract with some glycerite. You can just add the extracts to your water bottle and you will have no trouble hydrating because it is delicious. Putting a few leaves of mint in the jar makes it my own mint julep minus the bourbon and with the extracts for the alcohol part.
Cucumbers make a refreshing drink when slices are added to a jar of water. The taste is mild but definitely cooling. A tiny pinch of sea salt or sprinkle of seaweed in the jar make this mineral-rich as well.
Vegetables are full of strengthening minerals and vitamins. This is a great time of year to juice and throwing lemon into the mix, turmeric, and few mint leaves is delicious. Then take your juice like carrot, beet, lemon, and tomato if you have them abundantly and then put it in the blender with an avocado and it is a quite nourishing source of energy that is very easy to digest and is so satisfying.
Watermelon can be blended and strained from pits, a twist of lime in the resulting juice and a tiny sprinkle of sea salt is another fun summer drink that cools the body down.
These herbal and food sources take us further than some of the typical summer choices like ice cream or even ices with sugar. Sugar is heating and it drains us no matter how delicious. But who can resist really great gelato? It’s just not my everyday go to as these options are.
Be Well, Stay Cool and enjoy the wonder of summer.
My name is Bonnie Bloom and I am a clinical herbalist. Plants give us clothing, shelter, food and medicine. They are an intrinsic part of our earth ecology, diverse and essential. They breathe our carbon dioxide and generously give us oxygen. Where would we be without them.