Every season has its own pros and cons. Being summer now, its heat is playing havoc not only agro-climatically but on our health as well. One could not stand under the sun directly for a few minutes. Especially in coastal areas such as Chennai there is an additional problem of humidity that makes one sweat all through day and night. Of course there are epidemics like chicken pox, and other diseases like measles, jaundice as well as heat related sickness such as micturition, urinary infection, constipation, dermal irritation and redness of skin. But Dr. R Balamurugan, an Ayurvedic Practitioner suggests us to follow some practical measures by changing one’s food habits and life patterns to cope with challenges of summer.
The largest organ of our body, the skin has sweat glands that produce sweat to excrete excess salt and other toxins in our body through pores and at the same time controls body temperature in relation to the atmospheric temperature and humidity. Infection to those sweat pores or any kind of block that affects free flow of sweat through the pores causes prickly heat. It’s very common among children to have prickly heat during summer as their skin would not have developed adequate sweat pores in their early developmental phase.
Prickly heat is not a disease but an adaptive skin mechanism that causes small boils and irritation to the skin. As per Ayurvedic philosophy it is more common among people whose body could be classified to have more bile content and also having tendency to generate more heat, and others who are obese, or having more fatty accumulation in their skin are prone to prickly heat problems. Wearing tight fit and synthetic or non-cotton based garments will also lead to cause prickly heat. Unattended prickly heat may lead to other secondary infections aggravating the skin problem to a greater extent. There is a list of protective measures against prickly heat:
Ayurvedic principle recommends us to choose vegetables and fruits that are unique to every season (seasonal agro producers) such as palm fruit (Nungu in Tamil)
Cucumber, different varieties of melons, tender coconut, sugarcane juice can compensate water loss in the body during summer
Before going to bed drink a cup of warm water added with ‘Triphala’ (a powder mix of herbs, Emblica, Terminalia chebula and Billerica) or paste made of the powder can be applied on the skin directly’, roots of Vetiver powder is also helpful.
Paste of sandal wood also helpful in curing prickly heat. Its paste can be applied on the skin directly or can be mixed with turmeric as a disinfectant, which can kill germs infecting the affected skin.
Berumuda grass (Arugampul) powder mixed with turmeric is also an effective cure against prickly heat. It’s commonly available in the form a balm in traditional medicine shops and Government Hospitals.
Paste of turmeric, sandal wood and neem leaves in equal proportion can be applied on the skin and kept air dried for an hour and then take bath.
Powder mix of fenugreek, green gram and Bengal gram can also be applied on the skin while taking bath.
Pulp of Aloe vera can be used instead of soap while taking bath.
Equal proportion of cumin seeds, dry ginger, cardamom and, amla, mixed with equal amount of sugar can be powdered and taken half a spoon daily before breakfast.
Instead of eating fried and spicy food items, composite vegetable curries, and more of liquid items than solids is also recommended.
Timely food, sleeping in well-ventilated rooms, avoiding sleep on the hot floor are also good practices during summer.
Additional tips to be considered during summer:
Drink plenty of water and fluids
As far as possible take bath in cold or lukewarm water, twice daily
Maintain regular habit of defecation daily; accumulation leads to many health complications
Avoid direct sunlight for a prolonged period in a day, especially between 12 and 4 PM; use light colored umbrella instead of dark ones that would absorb more heat
Wear cotton and loose fit garments
Have oil bath twice a week.
(This article published in vikatan.com written in Tamil by G.Lakshmanan is now reproduced in English by Amalan Stanley )