Food as Medicine: Summer Heat
by Lauren St. Pierre, L.Ac.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it’s not uncommon to use food that has medicinal qualities to help treat various conditions. In the summer months we are more prone to conditions of toxic heat. In the Chinese herbal pharmacopoeia there is a whole subsection of herbs that treat “Summer Heat.” Some of those herbs are food...kind of. Mung bean (Lu Dou), lotus leaf (He Ye) and watermelon rind (Xi Gua) are a few of the herbs in the category that clear Summer Heat. You can use these ingredients to make a soup or tea.
Mung bean is mild in flavor. It helps to detox the body and can be used internally to help relieve red eyes, skin rashes (especially if brought on by the hot summer sun) and is very helpful in relieving thirst from Summer Heat. In China it isn’t uncommon to sip on mung bean tea as a preventative measure. Mung beans may sound familiar because in our culture we commonly eat the sprouts in soups and stir-fry, but the most powerful heat clearing comes from the little bean itself. It’s usually available in the bulk department at most grocery stores. Look for organic when available.
There are many ways to prepare the mung beans. Soup is a traditional way. I like to prepare the beans with extra water and do a short cook (10 minutes) and drain that liquid to consume as tea and then the beans make an excellent salad with a bit of sesame oil and ume plum vinegar! That said, I’m a bit hotter in nature (red eyes and complexion) For those of you who tend to be colder in nature, skip the short cook, throw in a bit of raw ginger and check with your acupuncturist if you have questions.
Mung Bean Tea | 1 cup beans to 8 cups water ratio
Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 to 25 minutes (or 10 minutes if we’re doing a short cook--you need to soak for an hour beforehand for the beans to be soft at the end). When it’s ready, drink the liquid and eat the mung beans. (You can tell when they’re done because the beans will split open.) To serve, strain water from beans and place in a bowl. You can add whatever you like to the beans but for cleansing it is better to eat mung beans plain.
Mung Bean Soup | 1 cup beans to 6 cups water ratio
Bring to a boil then simmer for around 25 minutes, the bright green color will start to dull a bit and the beans will open. You can stir occasionally and puree if you want a creamier consistency. You can add whatever you like to the soup but for cleansing it is better to eat mung beans plain.