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Beat the Heat!

When the dog days of summer hit, bring on the cooling herbal tea for seasonal lethargy


We’ve just had a week of the ‘dog days’- those hot, sultry days of summer. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the ‘dog days’ occurred when the Sirius star appeared to rise alongside the sun, usually in late July in the Northern Hemisphere. They believed the combined heat from the two stars is what made these days the hottest of the year, and worse, Hellenistic astrology associated it with a period that could bring on catastrophic events such as overwhelming heat, drought, thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and just general bad luck! Cheery souls indeed 😉

Here in Blighty, we get these same dog days of summer every year, and whether human or horse, excess heat accumulates in the body, resulting in symptoms such as hot skin, profound thirst, excessive sweating, restlessness, and an overall feeling of seasonal lethargy & fatigue - that'll be me then. Some love it – it’s never too hot for the husband, but I literally melt, and last week the horses looked completely fed up, dripping with sweat as they bottled up in the barn where it was even hotter than if they stood outside.

The good news is that we can turn to a cold tea infusion of amazing cooling and calming herbs, to help cool down and re-energise the body during hot weather, and especially if our horses are still being ridden. Simply mix the following herbs together and make up as a cold-water herbal tea for at least 8-hrs - 30g per 1-litre - then slosh the lot into the feedbowl as the soak liquid. Or, if it’s for us at home, simply strain, pour over ice, and enjoy!

  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus spp.) - A classic summer heat cooling tonic, hibiscus makes a beautiful and refreshing herbal iced tea for seasonal lethargy and fatigue. Slightly tangy in flavor, hibiscus is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and can help clear excess summer heat symptoms, including feelings of irritation and being generally overheated (Wood, 2008). Commonly combined with rose hips as a sour, cooling tea, hibiscus is a great herb for seasonal lethargy and fatigue.
  • Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) - Although lemon balm is another member of the mint family and shares similar properties as peppermint and spearmint, its unique lemony flavour and mood-supporting capabilities set it apart from other mints – as Culpepper said about Lemon balm, it “puts the joy back into the melancholy”. Gently relaxing in nature, it supports both the nervous system and the mind to help with heat-induced frazzled or lethargic days.
  • Mint (Mentha spp.) - I’ve previously posted a Herb Nerd blog on cooling mint as they’re profoundly cooling! Both Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) are two of the most commonly found mints that work wonderfully for helping beat the heat. As a vital stimulant, the mild cooling diaphoretic action of mint can help push built up internal summer heat to the surface without overheating the body any further.
  • Tulsi/Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) - Tulsi is also a member of the mint family but carries a distinctly different aromatic flavour from peppermint, spearmint, and lemon balm. Slightly sweet, pungent, and bitter, tulsi can be used as a refreshing summer tonic by itself or paired with other herbs like ginger, rose, or green tea (Camellia sinensis). Tulsi stands out from other cooling herbs with its beneficial adaptogenic effects as it can help the body adapt to stress while promoting energy and endurance, especially during the dog day slump.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale) - Although ginger’s energetics are considered as extremely hot and dry when taken as a hot tea, as a cold infusion with other cooling herbs like mint or lemon balm, ginger turns into a revitalising tonic for summer days. Its circulatory stimulant action can help promote movement of stuck energy and fluids in the body, which in turn helps clear symptoms of seasonal lethargy/fatigue while also helping disperse throughout the body the cooling actions of the other herbs with which it is combined.

NB. Note that signs of summer heat symptoms of lethargy and fatigue are different from other symptoms such as heat exhaustion or chronic fatigue. See our Stress page in our Herbal Nutrition by Condition section off the main menu for more info.