Author: Susanda Yee
I have recently been reacquainted with mint, the benefits of it, and how delicious it can be as a tea.
The Unbearable Sluggishness of Being (Too Hot)
In the summer, and especially late summer when our bodies have filled up with heat from running around these humid Toronto streets, and we have filled our bodies with all the things we eat in the summer, like BBQ, delicious coffee, summer cocktails, ice cream, raw salads, we can fill up with lots of damp heat. These are all foods that create excess dampness in the body which slows down the circulation of qi in our bodies and then causes pressure, and then more build-up of dampness, and then more and more HEAT.
Damp heat is this wonderful condition of having warmth and moisture in our body. We need this heat and moisture but sometimes (often in north america) this gets taken too far. Oddly enough we north americans have this need to eat “heat filling” food when we are hot. Like wanting BBQ in the summer?
Why do we want to eat hot roasted food on a hot hot day?? Why do we crave spicy hot food on a hot hot day?!
I’ve heard many explanations. Like, some of us drink and eat hot things so we get even hotter and then sweat and then feel some coolness, and start the whole cycle again… heating and cooling… is somehow a good thing to do on a day that’s too too hot.
Some think that the very fact that we have filled ourselves up with damp heat and have gotten ourselves into an excessive state creates a condition where this natural element craves itself. When we are excessively damp we continue to “crave” this state, or the dampness itself wants to continue its presence and seeks more of itself. (I know this sounds odd and scary. Don’t worry. Mint can help).
In Chinese herbal medicine, Mint is one of the main ingredients of cooling unbearable damp heat. We can get ourselves into this excessive state of damp heat that no amount of water or cooling drinks can quench. The thing about mint is that it is phenomenal at cooling and moving stagnant qi (which causes heat, and then more build-up of dampness, and then more heat, and on and on). I have had clients tell me, swear to me in fact, that they have filled their face and body with water, completely waterlogged and STILL so HOT.
What sort of mint?
Explore all the different kinds of mint. They all help. Choose fresh mint leaves and plants as we have them in season. The stems and the lower parts of the plant will help your stomach and bowels (lower part of body), and the leaves will help your head, face, and upper body.
Store your garden mint away
Definitely dry out your leftover mint plants. Tie them up and hang them upside down in your kitchen. When they have dried to a deep dark colour you can use it for teas over the fall and winter. There is nothing like having too much damp heat after Halloween with delicious mulled red wine and pumpkin pie, and at the New Year after a winter of warm foods, roast meats, roast veggies, coffee, and winter desserts to have a STRONG cuppa mint tea that gets all that good stuff moving and getting unstuck in our warm winter bowels.
Buy mint at store
Yes, buy some fresh mint at the store and store some away for the fall and winter.
Most prepared mint teas in sachets you can buy at a natural food store are also good and will do the trick. And you can get already dried mint at a herbal natural foods store.
The most important thing
The key thing about using mint to cool you down and reduce damp heat bloating, indigestion, headaches, is to make sure your tea is strong enough. Make sure you are using a good quality mint and the tea is strong enough. You can figure out how strong by experimenting. Start with steeping the tea to a rich, deep green colour. Most folks want to add honey or maple syrup to taste. Both sweeteners have their own health benefits as you know. In general, honey is cooler, and maple syrup is warm to hot so I usually have this in warmer seasons.
When do I need it?
Follow these signs of excessive damp heat if in certainty:
• Feeling too hot all the time
• Exhaustion/ constant malaise
• Unquenchable thirst
• Body pain
• Indigestion and bloating
• Headaches/ Head pressure
• Feeling stuck and stagnant physically and mentally