Enjoy Your Summer

without getting a heatstroke

After a long winter, we Canadians love the warmer days of Spring and Summer! The trails are full of bikers, runners and hikers! It is wonderful to see people gardening, or going for a jaunt in the park. The beaches nearby are full of people of all age groups as they wade in the water and tan on the beach! We love spending time outdoors to be with nature, and enjoy the warmth of the sun on our skin. However, with all the time spent outdoors, it is easy for us to get too much sun, and suffer from a heatstroke. Here, I will discuss signs and symptoms of heat stroke, and share the Chinese Medicine perspective on how to prevent and treat a heat stroke.

What is a Heatstroke?

WebMD, a medical resource on the internet, explains how one can get a heatstroke. When there is prolonged exposure to high temperatures, usually in combination with dehydration, the body is not able to regulate it's temperature. As a result the body gets overheated, and if not treated, a heatstroke can become a medical emergency. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/heat-stroke-symptoms-and-treatment#1

If you take the action at the first signs and symptoms of getting overheated, you can prevent yourself from getting a full heatstroke. A heatstroke is a very serious condition and needs emergency intervention.

Signs and Symptoms of a heatstroke

Too much heat or sun exposure can cause the body's core temperature to rise. Medically, the definition of a heatstroke is when the core body temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. However, feeling hot, dehydrated, a headache and feeling faint may be the first signs and symptoms. If managed at the early stages, the more serious signs and symptoms  can be prevented.

A full blown heatstroke can result in nausea, vomiting, confusion, convulsions and even loss of consciousness.

Tips for Preventing and Treating a heatstroke

In Chinese Medicine, we always relate mankind to nature. Just like heat naturally rises, when we get hot, heat rises to our heads. This can cause us to have a headache, a stuffy nose or even cause confusion.  To avoid getting overheated in the head:

  1. Do not sit in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Look for shade where possible.
  2. If spending your time outdoors in a water body, make sure you also dunk your head in the water.
  3. Areas that have more concrete or asphalt and are directly exposed to sunlight can be almost 15 degrees warmer, so chances of getting overheated in such environments is greater. Look for an umbrella for shade. Wet the ground and then use a fan to blow some cool air.
  4. In terms of acupuncture channels, the Governing vessel runs along the midline of the body, going up along the spine to the top of the head, and down the face. This channel is considered the most Yang of all acupuncture channels, and doing acupressure on the most Yang area of this channel can help clear heat from the body.
    Yang and Yin are Chinese Medicine concepts and are relative to each other.  Yang is hot when compared to Yin, which is cold. Yang is superior aspect (top, head) of body compared to Yin, which is inferior aspect (bottom, feet).
    Therefore, to clear heat from the body, 
    doing acupressure on points on the midline of the top of the scalp is very helpful. Cooling the body by putting water on the midline of the top of the scalp is very effective in preventing a sunstroke or a heatstroke.
  5. In hot and humid weather, it is not sufficient to just put water on top of head to cool down. You have to dry and fan the area so that the moisture on the body evaporates, thereby creating a cooling effect on the body.

To prevent a heat stroke, it is important to eat foods that are cooling and moistening in nature. Too much heat exposure can also cause an upset stomach or a feeling of nausea. To avoid and treat a heat stroke, you can modify your fluid and food intake to foods that are easily digestible, cooling and moistening.

  1. If your mouth or lips are feeling dry when sitting in the sun, it implies that you are beginning to get dehydrated.  Drinking water with lime, mint, or cucumber infusions can help clear heat from the body. Coconut water is also very good at quenching the thirst and clearing heat from the body.
  2. Eating fruits that have high water content can also help balance your electrolytes and prevent you from getting overheated. Watermelon is the best fruit to consume on a hot, sunny day. It is the best antidote to a heatstroke.
  3. Other juicy fruits like grapes, berries and oranges can also help. Sometimes, oranges can cause mucus production in the body, so be mindful of that.
  4. Vegetables with high water content like leafy greens, celery, cucumber, radish can also help cool and clear heat from the body. They can be consumed as a smoothie with a fruit and a herb like parsley, cilantro or mint.
  5. Mung bean soup is very cooling and detoxifying and can clear heat from the stomach as well.
  6. Avoid eating foods that are warming or dehydrating in nature - as they can cause heat and mucus to build up in the body. Foods like cheese, nuts, alcohol, coffee, hot spices should be avoided when the weather conditions are hot and humid.

I hope these tips help you enjoy the summer without getting overheated. Please write to me at anu@anusahgal.com if you have any questions or comments and I will be happy to answer your queries. If you like this write up, you can subscribe to my blog at http://anusahgal.com/.

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