In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are six “environmental excesses” understood to cause disease. The conditions are, to some extent, seasonal in nature. Cold diseases prevail in winter. Summer Heat diseases dominate summer and are therefore, as spring has begun to boil over, the topic of the day.
Summer Heat manifests differently (climate and individual constitution being a big factor) but typical symptoms include fever, nausea, vomit, diarrhea, headache, dizzy spells, general fatigue and agitation. Conventional wisdom tells us to increase fluid consumption during the sultry months. The practice is correct in theory but the beverage of choice is often problematic. And so while an iced frappasomething from the coffee shop next door or a glass of lemonade might seem all but required, the amount of sugar added to both these concoctions only fuels the bodies fire, acerbating the situation. The recipe below (part elixir part vegetable puree) is designed to clear excess heat and reestablish a healthy internal sense of ease that is, after all, what summer is all about.
Note: Both Watercress and Cucumber are considered diuretics, a fact that augments their heat clearing properties from the TCM perspective. Hydrate with plenty of water.
Watercress and Cucumber Summer Soup
2 -3 cups watercress, thick stems removed
1 small cucumber (6 oz), cuts into chunks
1 cup cold fresh water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon flaked sea salt
10 mint leaves
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve puree as a thin soup and adjust seasoning with a pinch of salt as desired. Puree can be strained, solids then squeezed and discarded) diluted with water and sipped throughout the day.
Frances Boswell is a licensed acupuncturist at her practice, Qi Sera Sera Acupuncture, in New York City. She focuses on a lesser-known branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which identifies poor diet as a common cause of disease. Traditional Chinese Medicine understands that the importance of food goes beyond ingredients' vitamins, mineral, nutrient and caloric content—food has its own energetic and spiritual role in our health. Frances' aim is to teach this ancient wisdom, apply it to everyday cooking, and work with patients to modify their diets, in addition to acupuncture, to help them live, eat, and be well. Contact Frances here.