A sweltering hot day may have you longing for ice cream or a cold drink, but we’re here to tell you that there is a more effective and healthy way to beat the summer heat from the inside out – cooling herbs. Many medicinal herbs are known for their cooling properties.
According to herbalist Benjamin Zappin, cooling herbs may fall into one or both of the following categories: refrigerants and diaphoretics. Refrigerants work by cooling the tissues, thus lowering your body’s temperature. Diaphoretics, on the other hand, encourages perspiration. Using a herb that causes sweating to cool down may sound counterintuitive, but sweating is essentially the body’s version of air conditioning. When the air starts to evaporate the perspiration, you cool down. Besides, the effect of diaphoretic herbs is subtle, so don’t worry about dripping with sweat after using them.
The 8 herbs listed below all have cooling properties. Read on to find out how to utilize them for cooling your body down.
Lavender is a commonly used ingredient in cosmetics and soaps. It is a refrigerant, meaning that it helps bring down the body’s temperature, especially in the form of essential oil. You can rub it on your palms, apply it to your temples, or mix it with your bathing water.
According to research, lavender oil may also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help in the healing of minor burns and bug bites. Human studies also suggest it can be beneficial for treating anxiety, insomnia, and migraine headaches.
Mint is one of the easiest herbs to find fresh. There are hundreds of varieties of mint, but the best kinds for the summertime are peppermint and spearmint. Mint contains menthol, an aromatic compound with sweet and spicy flavors. Menthol triggers cold-sensitive receptors in the skin, resulting in a cool, fresh sensation. Another way in which mint works its cooling magic is by stimulating the nerve endings in the mouth responsible for temperature sensation.
The best way to use mint for cooling down is by adding it to your drink. You may drink mint tea or make a cold infusion of fresh mint leaves in a jar of cool water.
Coriander, or cilantro in Spanish, is a diaphoretic herb. It induces perspiration and reduces the inner body temperature. By doing so, coriander helps the body get rid of toxins. It is also useful in bringing down a fever. Other health benefits of this herb include antioxidant and anticancer properties. It’s also been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar in rats, according to a study from 2018.
So what’s the best way to utilize coriander? It makes a great addition to soups, salads, and sauces.
Although rose is technically not a herb, this versatile plant has long been used for its medicinal properties, including its cooling qualities. The scent of a rose has been shown to reduce mental stress, which can often be exacerbated by the heat. When applied to the skin, rose not only cools and hydrates, but also soothes any puffiness or redness.
Rose can be used in an abundance of ways – from rose water to fragrant rose tea. To prepare rose water, simmer fresh rose petals in filtered water over medium heat for about 12 minutes, and then strain the petals. Fill half of a spray bottle with the concentrated mixture and the rest of the bottle with plain water. And there you go, you have the perfect solution to mist your face and refresh your skin throughout the day.
Dill is typically a culinary herb that has been proven to have antioxidant, antibacterial, and anticancer properties. As a diaphoretic, dill dilates the blood vessels and pushes heat out through the skin. In other words, it cools the body from the inside out. A study from 2016 also noted that dill may be useful in easing stomach pains and diabetes.
Dill can be used to add flavor to a variety of dishes – soups, stews, sauces, dressings, and dips. It makes a great garnish for potatoes, pairs well with fish, especially salmon, and can even compliment omelets.
Chickweed has many culinary and folk remedy uses that date back centuries, and some of them have been proven effective by science. Due to its cooling effects, it has been used to treat rashes, eczema, and psoriasis. Recent research confirms that chickweed has anti-inflammatory properties when applied to the skin. Besides being a refrigerant, chickweed is also rich in fiber and it is considered a good source of vitamin C, zinc, calcium, and magnesium.
Chickweed can be applied topically, infused in oil, made into teas, or eaten fresh or cooked. When dried, chickweed loses some of its potency and a lot of its taste, so If you make it into a tea, it is recommended to pair it with mint.
You have probably heard of the many benefits of chamomile tea: it eases digestion, calms the nerves, and encourages sound sleep. Well, it turns out that chamomile can be used to cool down, too. In part, this is due to its antispasmodic abilities that help relax muscles. In the discomfort of heat, we tend to tense up, which can put stress on our muscles. By relaxing the muscles, chamomile helps us loosen up and expel pent-up heat.
Chamomile is most efficient as a cooler when applied topically. You can add 1-2 drops of chamomile oil to your body lotion or moisturizer, or mix it into your bathwater. If you’d like to have a relaxing chamomile bath but don’t have any chamomile oil on hand, a few strong chamomile tea bags in the water will work just as well.
Hibiscus has strong cooling qualities, which make it a staple for summer care. This herb is jam-packed with antioxidants that help combat UV-related stressors. Besides significantly cooling down the body hibiscus is also very thirst-quenching when ingested and does a great job at keeping us hydrated while sweating away in the summer heat. Due to its mild diuretic properties, hibiscus is commonly used to ease bloating too.
Hibiscus teas can be easily found in most health food stores and can be enjoyed both hot and cold. While tea is the most popular way to take hibiscus, the flowers can also be used in jams or salads.