Here we are just days after the solstice, at the height of the summer. Everything is at its zenith, it’s most expanded and its most open. In Chinese medicine this is the time of the heart and the matching emotion of Joy. However for some people this is the time of suffering, itching and weeping. I am talking about hayfever.
On the evening of the solstice I was in a hayfield having a great time eating an over ripe, squishy punnet of strawberries and not drinking enough water, so an hour later had a massive attack full of red eyes, incessant sneezing and shortness of breath.
Oh dear physician know thyself……..Hayfever is a very yang condition. All the energy rises upwards and even outwards if you are sneezing a lot. Eyes, nose and mouth become itchy and the skin can become red and hot. The best counterbalance for this Yang is Yin. Cold dark rooms work best but who wants to shut themselves away from the joy of summer. Sunglasses desensitise but I have found that there’s no instant cure for an attack except anti-histamine. I find these cure the attack in the short term, but they leave me exhausted and less resilient to allergens in the long term. So now I manage my body and its reactions by finding balance with food. I no longer pop the pills rather I look for yin and cooling foods that will soothe an overheated sensitive body.
- ¼ pineapple
- 1 apple
- 3 small plums
- 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
- Drizzle of local honey
- Handful of fresh mint leaves
Mint is fantastic for the body in the summer. It cools and relaxes muscle spasms. In tests has been shown to inhibit the release of histimines within the body. Fruit especially in its fresh, crisp, raw state tends to be yin and will soothe, cool and bring moisture to the body. Fluids can be burnt off not only by the heat of a sunny day but by the internal heat the hayfever brings so drink plenty of water. The fruits, full of vitamin C will also reduce any internal inflammation of the arteries and mucus membranes so reducing blood pressure and shortness of breath. Pinapple contains bromaline which is excellent for reducing swelling and inflammation, and natural histamine which won’t affect hayfever sufferers but can affect some people with food allergies. Take note of your own reactions, know what works for your own body. It’s the same for yogurt which is very cooling especially for the mucus membranes and the lungs. However if you eat too much it can create excess phlegm and cause congestion. So be a sensitive soul, know you are unique and work out what suits you. Just looking at this dish makes me glad it’s summer, hayfever or not.