Holistic Endless Summer

Local hebalists offer esoteric bug repellent and more.***image1***

It's summertime and the healthy living is easy. Winter flu and spring allergies are but a distant memory; the daylight-starved soul soaks up abundant sun; life is warm and cozy. The season of endless, meandering hikes, hot dogs, beer, ice cream and relaxing vacations brings effortless, perfect health. But lurking behind these halcyon days of slackitude are ongoing threats to wellbeing, according to alternative and holistic health and wellness experts. Energy imbalance, heat-related problems, bug bites, indigestion and sleeplessness spell the darker side of 16-hour days.

***image2***Eastern theories of wellness center on balance: the elusive golden mean between shady, cool, lethargic yin and sunny, hot, sanguine yang. Summer is yang season, baby. To balance summer's yang, many herbalists and doctors of oriental medicine give suggestions with a ring of common sense: Drink plenty of water, wear a hat in the sun, cool yourself off with a shower, seek shade and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. For more specific suggestions, you might check in with Tim Gautchier, herb specialist and purchaser for Herbs, Etc.

"Chrysanthemum tea offers a relaxing, soothing and cooling effect," Gautchier says. He also recommends two proprietary blends on offer at Herbs, Etc., one with the pharmaceutical-sounding name of ChlorOxygen and the other with a sexier, more spiritual ring: Deep Health.

ChlorOxygen is designed to boost red blood cells, increase oxygenation, enhance energy levels and facilitate high-altitude adjustment, a particular benefit for those who cool off by heading for the mountains. Chlorophyll from one of the main ingredients, stinging nettle, is purported to increase the blood's ability to carry oxygen. The product also is advertised to have two other benefits: It acts as an intestinal deodorizer (particularly desirous after all those plates of franks and beans washed down with wheat beer) and it supports a healthy liver (that beer thing again).

Deep Health, on the other hand, combines several mushroom species with the roots of the mysterious-sounding California Spikenard, Ashwagandha and Siberian Eleuthero (among other things) and promises an increase in stamina and vitality. Who could resist a promise like this one from the brochure: "Deep Health, taken daily, clothes your entire body with a coat of armor, shielding you from negative external influences."

Speaking of negative external influences, summer bugs and summer sun can be tough on your body's largest organ, the skin. For advice on summer skin care, SFR turned to herbalist Tomas Enos, owner of El Milagro Herbs, a full-service shop and spa. Enos stocks a wide variety of herbs and potions, many of which he hand-harvests locally. His three decades of experience, as reflected in his book Curanderismo: A Holistic Health Model, complement his warm, down-to-earth demeanor. He recommends Sun Goddess Lotion, an all-organic SPF 20 sunscreen that has the added benefit of smelling great.

Back at Herbs, Etc., Gautchier mentions a little-known aspect of summer heat: the body's loss of minerals. Calcium and magnesium supplements help the body absorb the vitamin D that gets created by the body itself with sun exposure, Gautchier says. He points out that Carol's Mineralizing Tea, a blend of raspberry, horsetail, alfalfa, red clover, peppermint, nettle, oatstraw, licorice and marshmallow not only increases mineral absorption but helps prevent cramping. If you tend to hike until you cramp, fill your water bottle with a mild decoction of this instead of plain water.

If no-see-ums bug you while you're hiking, shoo them away with Herbs, Etc.'s blend of essential oils called Bug Off, an all-natural insect repellent that includes citronella and sweet almond, pennyroyal, eucalyptus, lavender, cajeput, cedarwood and catnip oils. The stuff smells almost like a fancy cologne, so you can be both bug free and pleasantly fragrant-unlike other insect repellents, which give off the strong aroma of toxic waste.

Sleep cycles can be garbled in summer due to increased day length and changes in diet and exercise. Bach Flower Essences has a sleep solution, a new product called Rescue Sleep, similar to the long-popular Rescue Remedy. A wide variety of other cooling herbs such as chamomile are also used for their calming and/or soporific effects. Rescue Remedy itself is recommended by herbalists, including Gautchier, to alleviate muscle stress, overexposure to the sun and accidents.

Then there's the summer diet. Some wise souls become virtual fruititarians over the summer, feasting on nature's increased varieties of fresh, juicy and nutritious bounty. Or they go for salads, fresh vegetables and lighter fare. How dull. Summer is also the season for backyard frenzies marked by engorgement on the seared flesh of beasts, Dionysian revels soaked in mojitos and margaritas and blood-sugar-boggling infusions of ice cream and cake. Gautchier recommends the humble, invasive vine called kudzu as an antidote to overindulgence. Peppermint is also helpful not only as a digestive tonic but also for its cooling, calming effects.

If you keep these few tips in mind, Santa Fe offers strong chances for a holistic summer. Stay balanced, keep it herbally cool and avoid seasonal health issues out the yin yang.

El Milagro Herbs

1020 Canyon Road #C


Herbs, Etc.

1345 Cerrillos Road