Though we often think of Chinese herbs as dark brown strong-tasting teas, when we look deeper we find the ancient Chinese also acknowledged and documented the tremendous healing power of fresh food. Watermelon is not only a delicious summer treat, but it is also a powerful effective medicine, which can clear a potentially serious condition known in Chinese medicine as "summerheat".
Food has long been used as medicine, a tradition strong in the East as well as the West. As temperatures rise across the United States and Europe, we look for natural healthy ways to cool our bodies without taxing the environment. Xi gua, or watermelon fruit, is not just a delicious food, but also a Chinese herb known to relieve summerheat. Similar to sun stroke summerheat is a condition with symptoms of fever, sweating, diarrhea and thirst.
Summerheat is described in Chinese medicine as a condition induced by overexposure to excessively high environmental temperatures. The symptoms described are similar to those of sun stroke and include:
* poor appetite
* sudden collapse
Watermelon, or xi gua, is listed in the Materia Medica as a sweet and cold herb, which not only clears summerheat, but also generates fluids. Watermelon is especially good when there is thirst and dark urine present. One cup of fresh or juiced melon is the dose given. Watermelon is so high in water content (92 percent by weight) that juicing is easy: simply blend watermelon pieces in the blender, no straining is necessary. For an especially cooling summer treat blend the watermelon with ice.
Watermelon is a good source of vitamin C, beta carotene and lycopene. Watermelon and watermelon juice are cleansing and are often used to detoxify the body. It is also a good choice of food or juice to help lose weight.
In addition to clearing heat from the energy pathways in which it enters - the stomach, heart and bladder channels, watermelon is shown to have a positive effect on the liver: it expels jaundice and has been used in treating specific forms of hepatitis. Other foods which are used as herbs to clear summerheat include lotus leaf (he ye), mung bean (lu dou), and young soybean sprout (dou juan).
This summer use fresh watermelon as a way to keep yourself hydrated and cleansed and your body temperature down. Eating fresh watermelon is a safe healthy way to stay cool in summer.
David and Melissa Sokulski, L.Acs.
The Birch Center for Acupuncture
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