|Health in the heat of the summer
For most of us experiencing summer at this moment, our heavy winter clothes are stored away. Just as you adjust your clothing to fit the weather, your self-care or health routine may need to change as well. Summer season is when the full light and heat of the sun hits. This can cause flare-ups in fiery conditions such as hot, itchy skin as well as flare-ups on the mental/emotional level resulting in irritation and impatience. While we all experience the effects of increased heat, those people with pitta
conditions or constitution experience it most acutely. There are three major constitutions in Ayurveda or traditional medicine, pitta
is the one that manifests the most fire. Below are ways of understanding how pitta
shows up in us and how to better balance it during its high summer season.
Keep cool and be well -
Funda M. Gulmen, N.D., M.S. - Naturopathic Physician
2505 Main Street
Stratford, CT 06615
Integrating both traditional and modern therapies, Dr. Funda M. Gulmen is a licensed naturopathic physician who offers natural family medicine through her private practice in Stratford, CT.
Services include: nutritional counseling, herbal medicine, homeopathy, stress management, mind-body medicine, therapeutic movement, lifestyle counseling, cleansing programs, food allergy/lab testing, supplement reviews, annual physical exams, yoga/meditation instruction, Ayurvedic evaluation/counseling, Reiki, and integrative medicine seminars/publications.
Individual health consultations available in-person, by phone, and by Skype.
- accepting major healthcare plans -
In Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) philosophy, there are three main constitutional types - vata, pitta, and kapha. Pitta is associated with the elements fire and water. It is associated with qualities such as being hot, oily, sharp, light, spreading, intense. So as we move into a summer season with the full light of the sun, pitta qualities tend to increase unless we actively balance them. Typical symptoms associated with high pitta include:
signs of too much pitta
- hot, red, inflammed skin (bug bites, poison ivy, hives, acne)
- irritation, impatience, competitiveness
- acid reflux, gastritis, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- any condition involving inflammation
- eyes are sensitive to light
- often says, "I have a high tolerance for pain" as their strong mind can override pain signals
- interest in spreading influence/name
- bleeding disorders
- hypoglycemia (they burn sugar too quickly)
- feeling hot
- large appetite
- sensitive to spicy, oily, and fermented foods
- feeling burnt out
The way you eat can significantly effect your health including how an excess of pitta may show up for you. If you find yourself craving ice cream and salads in summer, this is an attempt by your body to balance pitta. Here are some additional tips...only add in a few suggestions at a time:
- eat at regular times
- do not skip meals
- increase raw, cold foods and decrease warm, cooked foods
- usually Ayurveda suggests making lunch your largest meal of the day but with the extra summer heat lunch should temporarily be on the lighter side
- eat sitting down and in a quiet, undistracted atmosphere
- favor the tastes sweet, astringent, bitter
- decrease the flavors of pungent, sour, salty
- foods like coconut, cilantro, cucumber, and mint are especially cooling
- avoid extreme flavors
- avoid stimulants and caffeine
- start your day drinking a cup of room temperature or slightly cool water with lime, mint or cucumber
Dr. Gulmen's book
This book was inspired by the many patients and healthcare practitioners I have had the privilege of working with and I hope that it serves the community in a deep way.
Natural Medicine for Viral Infections
People are generally unfamiliar with how natural medicine can treat viral infections, so in many ways this work is a true paradigm shift. Now available on amazon.com
the first medicine
homemade farmer's cheese
- 6 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons strained lemon juice
In a saucepan on medium heat, bring milk to foaming boil stirring to make sure it does not stick to bottom. Once it has reached this point, take off the heat and sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Take the stirring spoon and slowly drag it through the milk about 10 times to start the milk turnling into cheese. If the curdling does not happen, place milk on heat for a little more time and/or add 1 more tablespoon of lemon juice. Once activated, cover and leave off heat for 10 minutes. Next pour mixture into moistened cheesecloth folded 3-4 times in a colander. If you want to collect the liquid (whey) for other recipes, please bowl under colander for collection. Once all the liquid has drained, gather the corners of the cheesecloth, gently twist to extract some more liquid. Then you can either hang the full cheesecloth over the sink (for a softer cheese) or place a bowl/plate with a little weight on top (for a firmer cheese). Leave for 1-3 hours depending on how firm you prefer the cheese.
Pitta qualities are balanced by the cooling quality of pure milk. While many people love cheese it is often loaded with salt which increases pitta qualities (and blood pressure). Also, hard aged cheeses become more acidic from the fermentation process. This recipe allows for a tasty version of cheese that is more pitta-friendly. Since people with pitta constitutions are the most sensitive to environmental toxins, it would also be best to use organic milk.
- 4 cups water
- 4 teaspoons tea (hibiscus, jasmine, rose or other petals)
Many people have heard of sun tea where you let the light of the sun brew your beverage. Perhaps not as often, people can make moon-teas with delicate flowers. The light of the moon has a cooling energy to it that is much more soothing to pitta. Simply place water and tea in sterile container and leave overnight in the moonlight.
classic fennel-cumin-coriander tea
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon each fennel, cumin, coriander seeds
Boil water in saucepan. Add herbs, cover, and steep 5-10 min before straining/drinking.
The herbs here are all cooling in nature so balance pitta qualities. They also tend to be gently detoxifying and supportive of a healthy digestion.
Black tea and coffee are energizing but are also stimulating to the adrenal glands, heart, and nerves. Over longer periods of time, drinking too many caffeinated drinks can lead to fatigue, burn-out, headaches, insomnia. This can be especially true for pitta people since they like to get things done and might overuse such beverages to stay active. This recipe is a cooler alternative to typical warm drinks while still offering an interesting complex of flavors and boost of energy. It can be both soothing and uplifting. From an Ayurvedic perspective, mint as a single herb and this recipe are both tri-doshic, so balancing for all constitution types.
2 cups water
10 mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon cardamon seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
3 whole cloves
1/2 inch peeled, fresh ginger
1/2 inch stick cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
sweetener to taste
Bring herbs to a rolling boil in water for 10 minutes. Take off the heat and add milk. Let stand 1-2 minutes before straining and drinking.
The general principle with balancing pitta is to introduce opposite qualities. Pitta is balanced by the qualities of cooling, grounding, moderation, gentleness. Here are some examples of changes that will help reduce pitta through its high season. Work with one idea at a time to get a sense of how it affects your system:
balancing pitta through your environment
- dress in cool, light, natural fibers like cotton and linen
- wear a hat/sunglasses to protect your head and eyes from the sun
- avoid spicy and oily foods
- avoid being outside in the middle of the day when the sun is most intense
- spend time in service to others
- instead of going "full-out", do activities at 70-80% of your normal speed/intensity
- avoid chemical toxins
- do something "just for fun" instead of something on your "to-do" list
- take a vacation
ongoing yoga classes
, 6:30 - 7:30p
, 7:30 - 8:30p (prenatal
, 7:30 - 8:30p
, 10:30 - 11:30a
no classes will be held Sep 1 - 8
* if you are interested in joining the prenatal class, please contact the office beforehand
In addition to these public classes, private yoga instruction can also be scheduled
. For class details and yoga updates, please visit: www.naturesourcecare.com/yoga.
Dr. Gulmen was invited again this year by the New Haven Ballet to present a nutrition curriculum
for their outreach program DanceAIR. Dancers from the company go to local public schools in New Haven
to teach young children about dance, movement, health and nutrition. The nutrition program was tailored to 2-4th graders in both English and Spanish.
So New Haven has a new crop of kids who can read a food label and tell you which foods have the most protein, which ones are better for high blood pressure/diabetes, and which ones are best to build muscles for dance/sports.
Dr. Gulmen also got to reminisce back to her medical school days while walking through Seaside Park for the walk-and-talk-with-a-doc program in collaboration with the Bridgeport Dept. of Public Health.
It was a beautiful day down at the shore.
If you have interest in having Dr. Gulmen design a seminar, publication or other project for your specific group so they can learn more about natural medicine, please email email@example.com
. For a list of previous seminars, please visit: www.naturesourcecare.com/seminars.
Coconut oil is extremely cooling by nature so often works well to balance pitta. Even spending 5 minutes a day as part of a daily routine, a hand and/or foot massage using a little coconut oil can work well to take the edge off and get back into balance. (Not to be done on open or infected skin). Olive and sunflower oils are also cooling, but less so, and can also be used.
Coconut oil hand
and foot massage
to cool off
letting go of anger - living lightly
When people come to the office they often feel stuck in their life in some way. They are sometimes surprised to find our conversation moving toward the idea of forgiveness. Strong emotions like anger can cause not only emotional distress but can affect physical health. It can also prevent you from living the highest potential of your life as that intense energy can block you from your own future desires for the future. Anger can be helpful in some ways. It is a message to the self when important boundaries have been crossed. But holding on to it too long can cause deeper disturbances. When people take a moment and are actually present with their emotions, including anger, they can finally digest it fully, receive the deeper learning and move on. Releasing anger does not make events of the past OK but it lightens the life you live every day by not carrying the grievance anymore. Some things may seem unforgiveable, things that we or others have done in the past. Restoration may not happen how we like, when we like or even at all. But we can free ourselves and resume living a full and happy life. Below are two methods for releasing old anger. I offered them to one gentleman who seemed especially stuck in his relationships. His wife had left him years ago for his best friend. Everyone had moved on except him. He was resistant to these exercises at first. But he came back a month later and was happy to tell me about a new relationship...he was ready to get married he had never been so happy :) But he had to let the pain that was blocking his heart go before the new love could show up. We often find, too, that when working with anger that it is usually just the first layer to many other unprocessed feelings. Beneath it are usually pain, frustration, grief. Somehow anger seems more powerful, more controllable, more justified than acknowledging the deeper pain and hurt. It's a first step to healing.
1) writing 3 letters
Address the person you are angry with (this can even be yourself or "life" in general), and then write, "I'm angry at you because...." and really let it go. All of it. Uncensored. Keep writing until you really have nothing left to say. Then sign it. Repeat this for three consecutive days. At the end of the three days destroy the letters - burn them, bury them, rip them up - and allow yourself to feel the new freedom in your heart, body, and mind
2) offer your anger meditation
Sit comfortably in a quiet place. Take three deep breaths and relax your body. Bring to mind the issue you are angry about. Then imagine in front of you a sacred fire that you throw your anger into. The fire might get higher or brighter for awhile, but know that your anger is being transformed. You can also imagine, if you prefer, that you are sitting in front of garden and are throwing your anger into the earth like compost, allowing it to transform so that new plants and flowers can grow.