Just like your food, your herbs should be seasonal, too: Brahmi, neem, shatavari, and manjistha will help you stay cool during summer months, and they’ll keep your microbiome in sync with the seasons.
The Link Between Seasonal Eating and Microbiome Health
Historically, all the foods and herbal medicines humans consumed were organic, local, and seasonal. And this had countless benefits that Western science is now starting to document.
For example, research has shown that soil microbes change from one season to the next, attaching to the roots of seasonal foods and herbs. Those microbes not only inoculate your gut with the appropriate seasonal bacteria, they also support the effectiveness and potency of the herb itself.
According to Ayurveda, seasonal soil microbes, when consumed with food or herbs, also act as circadian (seasonal) probiotics and bio-enhancers, supporting gut health and your immune system. Getting the right microbes from your organic foods each season allows you to boost immunity in the winter, decongest in the spring, and dissipate heat in the summer.
4 Herbs to Take in Summer to Support Seasonal Eating and Balance Pitta
Summer is typically a hot and dry season that follows a very wet, cool, and rainy spring. The heat of summer is the perfect antidote to help dry up excess moisture, mucus, or congestion that spring leaves behind.
Nature offers us a 365-day cycle of nutrition, in which heavy, warm winter foods deliver an abundance of fat and protein; lighter, austere, and dry foods force the body into a period of calorie restriction in the spring; and carbohydrate-rich foods fuel the body in summer.
There are several Ayurvedic herbs to take in the summer to support this natural cycle of seasonal eating:
- Brahmi (Centella asiatic) is one of my favorite summer herbs. I grow it every year in my garden. It enhances a salad, makes a great green smoothie, and can be brewed into a tasty tea.
Ayurvedically its tastes are bitter, astringent, and sweet, which are the three tastes that most effectively balance pitta. Even though brahmi is mostly a cooling herb and a great to antidote the summer’s heat, it can be used by all body types in all seasons.
Brahmi, aka gota kola, has numerous other health promoting properties. It’s known to support cognitive function by supporting better brain lymphatic drainage. It’s also one of the best herbs for maintaining a radiant complexion and supporting a healthy intestinal lining. Brahmi is also an adaptogen, helping the body cope with stress and emotional ups and downs.
Learn more about LifeSpa’s Brahmi Brain supplement.
2. Neem (Azadirachta indica) is perhaps the most famous pitta-pacifying herb. It has so many properties it is commonly called the village pharmacy. The traditional Ayurvedic doctor could give neem for almost any condition because of its broad spectrum effectiveness.
Neem has a bitter taste and is a refrigerant, which means it acts as the perfect antidote for summers heat. Also called the Queen of the Skin, it, like Brahmi, supports the healthy function of both the inner and outer skin.
Studies have also found that neem supports the healthy breakup of undesirable bio-film that allows bacteria to uncontrollably proliferate and disturb the delicate balance of the gut microbiome. By addressing the environment of the intestines and the proliferation of a healthy microbiome, neem has access to every organ and organ system in the body.
Learn more about LifeSpa’s Neem Boost supplement.
3. Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is one of the most rejuvenating herb for both men and women. It has been wrongly pigeonholed as estrogenic and only for women, but studies show that it boost libido more in men than it does in women.
From the Ayurvedic perspective, shatavari is an ojas builder, which suggests that it supports immunity, a radiant complexion, energy, and vitality, as well as virility. It has a sweet and bitter taste and is therefore a very cooling herb.
Shatavari is also an unctuous herb that effectively resolves the dryness that comes with excess heat. Shatavari will not let the body or skin dry out each summer—a dryness that sets the stage for vata aggravation with the incoming cold and dry winter. Because of its natural coolingproperties, shatavari supports a healthy epithelial and healthy inner skin, including the lining of the intestines, stomach, lungs, and kidneys, making it one of the revered herbs of Ayurveda.
Learn more about LifeSpa’s Shatavari supplement.
4. Manjistha (Rubia cordifolia) is a bitter, sweet, and astringent root named after its very red color. Most herbs like manjistha that have strong red or blue coloration (including pomegranates, cherries, and berries) are rich in polyphenols and anthocyanins, which are known to be powerful antioxidants and blood and lymph cleansers. Manjistha may be Ayurveda’s most well-known lymph-moving herb.
As an antioxidant, manjistha combats age-related oxidation that initiates around the belly, where the lymphatic system starts. It has been studied to support a healthy complexion and lymph drainage from the skin, respiratory tract, intestines, brain and central nervous system.
It also supports a healthy immune response, the delivery of fatty acids for the body’s baseline energy, and is a processor of waste form the gut and intracellular spaces.
Learn more about LifeSpa’s Manjistha supplement.
Follow a Summer-Harvested Diet
At LifeSpa, we publish a free monthly seasonal eating guide that delivers recipes, grocery lists, and lifestyle tips, along with updated knowledge about the emerging science in the exciting field of seasonal eating. Learn more about how to get our free 3-Season Diet Guide in your inbox at the start of each month.
Stock Up on Summer Herbs
You can buy our summer Ayurvedic herb kit and get all four herbs at once at a discount, plus a copy of our summer grocery list, for healthy seasonal eating and self-care.