Summer is here! Let’s talk Aloe and Dandelion

Two Pitta pacifying herbs in Ayurvedic medicine are Aloe Vera and Dandelion. Both are bitter and astringent, two ways Pitta is pacified. And both are anti-inflammatory.

These are Vata increasing herbs and should be taken in moderation by everyone, especially aloe vera which after some time of daily intake, will have an eventual drying effect on the digestive track. ┬áThis is a result of Aloe Vera’s intense scraping mechanism when taken internally. This can be a means to cleansing and regulation.

The aloe leaves have a gel that is soothing to sunburn and if you are lucky enough to live where aloe grows naturally, it can literally be taken straight from the plant, opened and applied to sunburns or regular burns to immediately cool skin and start the healing process.

In Aloe Vera, Nature’s Soothing Healer, Diane Gage explains that the exact way in which Aloe Vera works to heal skin is still unknown: “Exactly how aloe gel works externally in healing wounds or maintaining healthy skin has not yet been proven. But Burdick says there are two main theories. “One is that when applied to the skin the chemical properties of aloe vera increase cell regeneration at a very rapid rate. The other theory is that the extract contains enzymes that effect chemical changes, which in turn intensify healing.”‘ (25)

Further research is being done with aloe and effects on A.I.D.S, colitis, and bed sores. Aloe juice or gel is highly effective in treating ulcers due to the gel’s coating effects in supplying a protective lining where the stomach’s natural lining has been destroyed.

Dandelion, another astringent Pitta pacifier is a readily available power house of natural iron. Although the leaves can increase Vata, or the dry, airy, ether quality which can cause anxiousness, the roots are considered a sedative and are used at times in coffee substitutes, having a rich, smokey taste similar to the taste of chicory or coffee.

Medicinal properties: “The leaves, with their mineral-rich properties, can be used for nourishing our bones (warding off osteoporosis) and our teeth. Drinking dandelion leaf tea over time helps to increase joint mobility and reduce stiffness; decrease serum cholesterol and uric acid; and promote digestive regularity.” (Dandelion Medicine, Brigette Mars, 32) the leaf is used for eye health as well and is rich in chlorophyll and antioxidants like betacarotene and flavonoids. (Mars, 32)

Its also a well known liver tonic, which in Ayurveda and aWestern medicine the health of the liver is directly related to the health of skin. Detoxing the liver can detox the skin, which will bring about a healing to the skin that is deeper and more long lasting than anything applied to the surface. Topically though as a cosmetic dandelion is rich in emollients which will liven the skin through moisturizing actions. Also, Brigette Mars in Dandelion Medicine wrote that it can be used to lighten age spots. This is the fresh dandelion sap , “collected when the plant is in bloom in the spring or summer, can be applied directly to age spots to lighten them.” (73)


Cooling flower mists for a 90 degree day

Boiling flower petals and herbs down and adding them to water in a spray bottle can create a cooling mist for hot summer days and a refreshing boost for skin. Herbs that are readily available in the summer are flowers like geranium and rose as well as lavender and eucalyptus. Herbs from the garden like basil can add a spicy kick and may be a little more heating but in the mist form still make for a treat for the skin. If you have essential oils like citronella or neem, though not as pretty of a scent, these added to the mist will deter bugs. Some of Ayurveda’s favorite cooling essential oils are peppermint, ┬ájasmine, lavender, rose, and orange blossom. Happy spritzing!