Soothing Summer Herbs: Recipes for Seasonal Self Care

Summer is a glorious season. Who can deny the joy that long nights and warm days can bring? Who doesn’t love the abundance of bright flowers and riotous gardens? If you live in the Northern Hemisphere summer is a short and welcome season after a cold winter and often long wet spring. Yet summer has its challenges too.
According to Ayurveda summer is the season in which pitta dosha can become easily aggravated. When pitta is aggravated we will experience symptoms related to an excess of fire. This may show up as irritated skin, red eyes, and a quick temper. Or you may experience it as increased inflammation, heartburn, or an excess of muscular tension. For myself, I often feel irritable, especially if I am working too hard and don’t get enough time to relax. I also find my skin becomes very dry and itchy, easily prone to rashes.
There are a number of ways in which we can reduce pitta excess. Some of the practices I have found to be most helpful are spending time in nature (which is always calming), allowing more space for play and idleness, practicing yoga in a moderate and fluid way, and eating a seasonal diet. I also love to use herbs and essential oils for added support. Some of my favorite herbs for the summer season are rose, chamomile, lemon balm, marshmallow, and mint. In regards to essential oils, I find myself continually reaching for the flower oils such as lavender, clary sage, geranium, neroli, and chamomile, along with lemon balm (melissa), petitgrain, sage and spearmint. Below I will share with you some of the recipes I have been using this summer in order to support myself in staying calm and cool.

Sage & Lemon Balm Massage Oil

Sage is an astringent herb that also acts as a powerful deodorizing agent. For this reason I love to use the essential oil of sage in my deodorant sprays, and often add it to summer massage oils. Massaging my skin with oil daily keeps my skin healthy during the summer months, and hydrated during the winter months. I love switching up the scents I use for each season. This cooling summer abhyanga oil also includes lemon balm or melissa oil which is calming and anti inflammatory in nature, along with spearmint which is uplifting and clarifying. I like to use apricot kernel oil in the summer months, alternatively, you might choose coconut which is extra cooling, or sweet almond which is a great all purpose carrier oil.
Recipe & Directions
For each oz of carrier oil add the following essential oils. This is a 2% dilution, reduce the essential oils by half if using on children or the elderly.

  • 7 drops sage
  • 6 drops melissa
  • 4 drops spearmint

Rose & Mallow Cold Infused Tea

Rose is one of my all time favorite summer herbs and I use it in almost everything. I spoon rose infused honey onto my morning yogurt, wear rose scented perfume, drink rose cordial all summer long, and put rose petals in almost every tea I make. Rose is cooling, calming and astringent. It also softens the heart and promotes quiet joy which is a perfect remedy for anyone dealing with aggravated pitta dosha. This cold infusion also includes marshmallow root which is wonderfully soothing to the digestive system, nettles which provide nourishing minerals, and a pinch of mint. This tea would also be lovely with fresh lemon balm if you have some growing in your garden.  Cold infusions are made with cool water and must steep for a longer timing. I like to make this tea right before bed so that it is ready to drink in the morning.
Recipe & Directions
In a large 1-liter mason jar add the following herbs and cover with water overnight. Feel free to play with the ratio of herbs, especially if you have access to fresh mint and rose.

  • 2 TBS marshmallow root
  • 1 TBS nettle leaf
  • 1 TBS rose petals
  • 2-3 tsp mint leaves

In the morning strain off herb matter and sip throughout the day. You can refrigerate it to make an iced tea as well.

Chamomile & Oat Milk Bath

I love milk baths in the summer, and with the addition of oats this recipe is one is especially soothing to dry, sunburnt, or itchy skin. This recipe calls for oat powder, which you can easily make on your own by grinding rolled oats in a blender or coffee grinder until you have a fine powder. I have chosen an essential oil blend that includes chamomile, a classic oil for calming aggravated skin, clary sage to reduce tension, and petitgrain to reduce excess heat and quiet the mind. Petitgrain is made from the leaves and twigs of the orange tree and is a lovely oil that compliments the flower oils and is perfect for the summer season.
Recipe & Directions
This recipe will make 4 cups of milk bath and is made with a 1 percent dilution of essential oils, which is safe for sensitive skin.

  • 2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 cup oatmeal powder
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 50 drops chamomile oil
  • 77 drops clary sage oil
  • 65 drops petitgrain oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well with a fork to break up any clumps. Store in a jar and add 1-2 generous handfuls to your evening bath. Soak and enjoy.  If you prefer not to get oatmeal in your tub you can put the milk bath in a muslin bag or stocking- but I usually just use it straight in the bath and rinse the tub well afterward.