Avoid dehydration this summer with Watermelon
When I was in school studying acupuncture at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine – Chicago I loved
learning about Chinese Herbs. We learned approximately 300 individual herbs, which included plant pieces and parts (flower buds, stems, roots, or even the flowers themselves, spices and some foods). Many of these were already familiar to me because they were common foods and I had them in my kitchen like ginger, peppermint and watermelon.
As part of the acupuncture
training I had to memorize the botanical name of the plant, be able to recognize it physically, describe its actions, the part of the body it influenced, and its taste and temperature. For example, some herbs are bitter and cold. These herbs work to clear heat, as you would imagine. What does clearing heat
mean in the medical sense? It means, sometimes, killing bacteria, which the most cold and bitter herbs do quite well. The other aspect of cold and bitter herbs is that they are hard on the digestive system – not usually as hard as a pharmaceutical like an antibiotic, though. Chinese formulas are specifically designed
combinations of herbs chosen to mitigate the side effects of specific individual herbs and ensure a formula is as easy to absorb as possible.
One herb I was happy to learn about (of course) was watermelon. I knew watermelon was delicious but I didn’t know it had any specific medical benefits. It is actually a medicinal food – as is peppermint, bitter melon, and dandelion greens as well as many others. Watermelon, however, is especially important in the summer as eating it cools the body quickly and significantly and as such will help treat sunstroke or heatstroke.
How does it work? Well, watermelon, in Chinese medicine, is described as having the properties of being cold and sweet, and it promotes urination. This is the physiological mechanism for the body to cool off and clear the heat from the system. It is also said to be effective at moving the bowels and specifically affects the heart, bladder and stomach organs. So eating watermelon when it is damp and hot outside, and when your body is overheated, will help you safely and quickly cool your body temperature. If you have a weak digestive system, though, please do not overdo it with watermelon. Watermelon is cold in nature so those with weak digestive systems would be wise to moderate how much they consume.
The nutritional profile of watermelon is pretty impressive – it’s packed with antioxidants, including Lycopene. Lycopene is in the class of antioxidants called carotenoids – which benefit the body by reducing the risk of eye disease and cancers, as well as generally protecting the body against damage to cells, protecting against the effects of aging, and helping with some chronic diseases (read more here
). Lycopene specifically reduces stroke risk
and has anti-cancers properties
, and is especially helpful for prostate cancer. Other vitamins and minerals found in watermelon include vitamin C, B1, B6, magnesium, potassium, copper, and biotin (source: The World’s Healthiest Foods
Here’s a simple watermelon refresher recipe to beat the summer heat:
4 – 6 cups chopped watermelon (you can use the whole thing if its a small one)
1/3rd cup lime juice
generous pinch of salt
3 small mint leaves, mashed slightly
1. Add all ingredients into a blender, food processor or vitamix. Blend until smooth, or to your desired consistency.
2. Once blended, you may add 1/2 cup sparkling water if you would like.
Enjoy immediately or refrigerate to have your own hydration drink available whenever you need.