"Hot" is anything that causes an increase in temperature or causes sweating. The body radiates heat from the blood through sweat. When the weather is hot, the blood vessels on the surface of the skin dilate and the heart rate increases, making the skin red and flushed.
Summertime is the season of poor appetite. Red skin is engorged with blood, leaving less blood for digestive organs. Hot weather makes the body relaxed, comfortable, and grounded. Pathological heat causes dizziness and fainting. The body becomes lethargic like the "lazy dog days of summer."
Sweating and secretions help cleanse the skin, digestive tract, circulatory, and lymphatic system. Saunas, baths, steam baths, sweat lodges, and exercise are among the numerous ways people cleanse with heat.
Spicy food brings blood flow back to the GI tract. It stimulates the appetite, burns toxicity, and reduces tissues (burns ojas). Heating foods cause thirst, sweat, a burning sensation (as in chilies), and even bleeding. For example, eating too many chilies makes the body sweat. Chilies are hot because they irritate the digestive tract lining.
Eat too much turmeric and you might get angry. Turmeric is heating because it dilates blood vessels. Vinegar is heating because it is acidic. Generally, avoid heating foods in the summer.
Hot water is one of the most powerful herbal medicines. As hot weather brings blood to the surface of the skin, hot water brings blood to the GI tract. Flush with the blood, hot water improves digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food. Hot water improves circulation. It is a powerful diaphoretic that opens the surface of the body, and is the primary therapy for fever in Ayurveda.
Hot water is also a decongestant, liquefying all Kapha.
Effect of Heating Foods on the Nervous System
When there is too much heat, the mind becomes hot tempered, angry, irritable, or impatient. Heat increases courage and valor. Passion is hot. Heat generally projects the personality outward. Yogis spend time in cool mountaintop temperatures because it helps them turn inward.
Causes of Excess Heat
Any irritation or wound, fermentation in the small intestine, exercise, or too much clothing causes heat. Liver imbalance, infection, hot climates, hot foods, and Pitta imbalances cause heat conditions.
Signs of Excess Heat
The signs of heart and blood heat are red skin, red eyes, and a red tip of the tongue. The signs of liver heat are yellow eyes or a yellowish tinge to the hands and skin. Other signs of heat include rashes, acne, infection, fever, anger, irritability, and sweat. Heat relieves spasms and causes suppuration of wounds, liver spots, premature graying of the hair, and loss of hair.
If you have poison ivy
and eat heating foods or take a hot shower, the poison ivy may get worse.
Treatment of Hot
Bitter tasting food and herbs, such as neem
, clear blood and liver heat. Astringent food and herbs, such as amalaki
, relieve inflammation in the gut. Sweet tasting foods and herbs, like shatavari
and licorice root
, cool Pitta and soothe Vata. Milk, cucumber, cilantro and watermelon are cooling. Washing the face or sprinkling the body with cool water is cooling.