Rupesh Chhagan LAc   
                                      
July 13, 2010

Dog Days of Summer
posted under Food

A sizzling vapor hovers over the scorched asphalt.  Drops of oil try to evaporate, then hang limp in the hot, sticky air.  He peeled the shirt away from his chest, sweat circles pooling along his sternum and belly.  His steps along the East Austin sidewalk dare anyone to get in the way.

A rant seethes out of clenched jaw and teeth.  “O’ so I can’t sleep in the park!  And I can’t sleep in front of that boarded up store!  So where am I supposed to go Pig?  Where am I supposed to F**KING sleep Jake?”  His rheumy yellow rimmed eyes zero in on the postal worker across the street.  He glowered at her.  Red memories surged  through his body.  Empty panhandling hands.  Sick as a dog on the street, rich people passing by with averted eyes.  No home, no job.  No $$, no home.  No job, no $$.  He stepped into the street towards her, picking up the pace.  Beads of alcohol tinged sweat dribbled down his temple.  He chewed on his fat, pasty tongue as he eyed her USPS uniform.  The red, white, and blue emblem was a flag on a slave ship mast behind his tightening sinews.  The mirrored sunglasses were on the face of every cop who stopped and asked, “Where you going boy?”

Her head was down, rifling through a stack of letters, when the butt of his palm connected with the Oakleys on her face.   They frames broke into the skin of her cheeks and forehead.  Her head was jerked back, mouth startled open, and eyes widened in fear as she took in his menacing stare.  “Now who’s the Man?” he said.

The dog days of summer are upon us.  The Dog Star, Sirius, burns bright overhead joining forces with the sun to heat up the globe.  Historically, the dog days were popularly believed to be an evil time “when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies” according to Brady’s Clavis Calendarium, 1813.  Indeed, the policeman who later arrived on the scene for the embellished scene I painted above told me that when it gets this hot out, “going postal” is epidemic.  Ahhh, listen, listen, to the wisdom, raining from the Middle Kingdom…

Disease is caused by the 7 emotions (more on this in a later blog) and Nature’s elements.   Heat, Cold, Summerheat, Damp, Dry, and Wind are qualities we all know.  We experience them when we step outside.  An individual is an ecosystem just like the environment.  Disease is “too much” or “too little” of a certain Element in our own little ecosystem we call our body.  In the imaginary scene above, I painted a character afflicted by several Elements: Heat + Damp + Wind.  Madness, especially of the aggressive variety is a combination of these forces.  Texas summers are Damp and Hot.  Here are some charts (from Healing with Whole Food by Paul Pitchford) to clarify the symptoms associated with these two elements and the foods to eat to balance out their effects.

HEAT DAMPNESS
Major Characteristics Heat rises, dries fluids Wet, moist conditions
Major Symptoms Person feels hot, fears/dislikes heat, attracted to cold Fatigue, sluggishness, fixed pain
Head Bright red tongue, yellow coating on tongue, red face, eyes, nosebleeds, canker sores, “rotten smell in mouth” Forehead headache (like wet band), heavy head, “cloudy” thinking
Organs & Body tissues High blood pressure, hemorrhage, inappropriate or incoherent speech, convulsions, delirium, full and fast radial pulse (>6 beats per complete in and outbreath), inflammations, swelling, rashes, skin eruptions, and sores 1) various mucoid deposits or moist accumulations (edema, cysts, tumors, cancers)

2) overgrowth of yeasts, viruses, putrefactive bacteria, amoebas, parasites

Digestion and Elimination Constipation, dry/smelly stools, dark yellow or red urine, blood in stools or urine, desire for cold liquids in quantity, matter excreted (urine, feces, mucus) is forceful and urgent, mucus and phlegm are thick and yellow or green Lack of appetite, bloated abdomen, watery stools
Cooling Foods Which Reduce Heat Signs

Fruit Vegetable Legumes & Grains Other Products
Apple

Banana

Pear

Persimmon

Cantaloupe

Watermelon

Tomato

All citrus

Lettuce

Radish

Cucumber

Celery

Button mushroom

Asparagus

Swiss chard

Eggplant

Spinach

Summer squash

Cabbage (green, purple, or Napa)

Bok choy

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Sweet corn

Zucchini

Soy milk

Soy sprouts

Tofu

Tempeh

Mung beans and their sprouts

Alfalfa sprouts

Millet

Barley

Wheat and its products

Amaranth

Kelp and all seaweeds

Spirulina; wild blue-green algae

Oyster-shell calcium

Wheat and barley grass

Kudzu

Yogurt

Crab

Clam

Herbs and spices:

Peppermint

Dandelion greens and root

Honeysuckle flowers

Nettles

Red clover blossoms

Lemon balm

White peppercorn

Cilantro

Marjoram

Avoid:

Fats, meats, alcohol, coffee, warming spices

Minimal or no cooking (raw, sprouted, steamed, simmered)
Foods Which Dry Dampness

Fruit Vegetable Legumes & Grains Other Products
Papaya Lettuce

Celery

Turnip

Kohlrabi

Asparagus

Pumpkin

Rye

Amaranth

Aduki bean

Alfalfa

Wild blue-green micro-algae

Spices:

White pepper

Chaparral

Pau d’arco

Valerian, Chamomile

Avoid:

Dairy products, Meat, Eggs

Tofu & soy products

Pineapple, salt, Concentrated sweeteners

Stay cool this summer.  Keep the core temperature low.  Take a dip in Barton Springs.  Practice meditation with the A/C off.  Learn to surf the waves of hot, fitful thoughts without punching out the post office lady.  Here’s a Dog Day anthem to leave you with:

Dog Days dawn

Reposed mind gone

Against a blistering sun we recoil

Setting sail as blood seas boil

Kindness, our captain, forever loyal.