The period between mid-April and late June is considered as the time of summer in India. The wind becomes sharp, hot and dry due to its conjugation with the sun, resulting in the absorption and reduction of moisture and humidity on earth. Because of this atmospheric condition, summer is regarded as a debilitating season when people have the optimum loss of strength and vigour.
According to ayurvedic physiology, the summer season is marked by the decline in “kapha”, the accumulation of “vata” and the aggravation of “pitta” in the body. This imbalance of body humors leads to a low appetite and poor absorption and a decline in body strength, thus making it the most unhealthy season. The cases of dysentery, gastroenteritis, diarrhea, skin problems, fatigue and psychological conditions like anxiety and depression are reported maximum during summer.
All ancient ayurvedic texts, while dealing with the subject of “ritucharya”, have prescribed a separate diet and daily regimen to be adopted in different seasons of the year. For summer, a diet which is primarily sweet, cold, liquid and unctuous in nature is considered beneficial for health. The freshly cooked meals consisting of whole cereals like wheat, rice and barely, seasonal vegetables and unpolished lentils should be easily digestable and devoid of excessive spices. Food items which are acidic, pungent and bitter in taste should be avoided in this season.
One should not eat exposed cut fruits being sold in the market. Cheese and other food items made of milk should be fresh, and care should be taken to thoroughly wash the salads. Similarly the consumption of meat and other non-vegetarian food items should be reduced. As most cases of gastric upset are reported because of eating food outside, one’s house, summer is not a safe time to go to eateries.
Ayurveda views that moderate use of naturally ripened seasonal fruits is beneficial in summer. Instead of aerated soft drinks, traditional and home made drinks like buttermilk, half-blended curd, lime water, decoction od dry barleys or sattoos and sharbats like khus, bael and sandal are more freshening. Fresh coconut water also replenishes the lost energy in a natural way. During Summer the use of alcoholic drinks and consumption of most of the dry fruits should be stopped or minimized.
Regarding the daily routine, ayurveda advises to get up early in the morning in summer. Taking a short nap at noon and again going to bed an hour after the dinner and avoiding much of late nights is the recommended “dincharya” for this season. One should bath twice a day with cold water and should stay at cool places. Heavy or strenuous exercises should not be carried out in summer.
Ayurveda prescribes a number of single herbs or their combination to be taken in this season. Foremost of these is the powder of dried amla which, if taken in a dose of one to two gm once or twice a day, keeps most of the bad effects of excessive heat at bay. Similarly, “giloy satva” is another home remedy for heat exhaustion and can be taken in a dose of 250 to 500mg twice a day.
One should avoid taking hard laxatives during summer as these tend to encourage fluid emission. If needed, hygienically made “gulkand” is the best laxative which, besides gently cleansing the bowels, also act as a coolant during the hot summer months.