Cooling Summer Herbs


Are we hot enough yet? Here in Oregon, it’s unseasonably warm. Of course, that just means that those of us here in rainy Western Oregon start to dry out a little. Still, wherever you live, summer is the hottest time of the year, and a time to be mindful about how you live, and especially about your diet.

When it’s hot outside, I recommend that you make your best effort to stay cool, and certain herbs help you to do just that. During the summer, I suggest emphasizing herbs that are bitter, a cooling taste. Bitter is composed of air and ether elements, the same elements that predominate in the mind, so you can use that to your advantage.

Gotu kola is a great bitter herb for the summer. This superb herb you can use in food much as a substitute for spinach. Some people find gotu kola to be a little too bitter to use alone, so consider mixing it 50/50 with fresh or frozen spinach, or any other green, such as mustard greens. Let dry, chopped gotu kola leaves soak overnight to soften, and cook them into a pureed dish. has a good version of the recipe that’s convenient to make and sounds delicious.

Gotu kola (or a 50/50 mix with spinach) makes a great summer pesto. This simple recipe is how I like to make it:

1/2 cup soaked Gotu kola leaves, with stems removed
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 heaping Tbs pine nuts
1/2 clove garlic
1/8 cup olive oil
Put all ingredients except the oil in a food processor. Slowly add the oil as you puree the pesto.

The Ayurvedic experts at Alandi are an always reliable source of valuable information on Ayurveda. They have a good pesto recipe that does not use garlic, if that’s your preference. Just sub the soaked gotu kola for some or all of the basil, to your taste. I find that most people like about a 50/50 mixture.

I also think of spearmint as a great summer herb. It is mildly soothing for digestive disorders, and slightly relaxing overall. To use spearmint as a digestive remedy, I like to shred a handful of washed spearmint leaves. Then mix in one half teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, one teaspoon of coriander seed powder and one teaspoon of cumin seed powder. Consume one teaspoon of the paste with each meal for a few days.


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The Tea Talk Blog is written by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Yogi herbalist with over 40 years experience.
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