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Panting and perils of summer heat

HEAT stroke is dangerous. Stay out of the scorching sun, cover up, drink lots of water and eat foods that dispel "pathogenic heat" - that's the advice of health professionals and TCM doctors. Zhang Qian reports.

Shanghai is in for more hot weather, and doctors warn people against spending prolonged time outdoors and in the burning sun, lest they suffer heat exhaustion, cramps or heat/sun stroke.

Too much time in unventilated rooms also can be dangerous. Summer sickness - that general weakness, lack of energy and loss of appetite - is also a problem for many people.

It's important to stay hydrated and sip water frequently.

The body sweats to keep the temperature from rising to dangerous levels, but if the body temperature rises too quickly, it may not be able to dissipate heat in time.

Losing a lot of water and salt through sweating also leads to an electrolyte imbalance.

The most severe consequence is heat stroke, which can be a medical emergency and cause seizure.

Common symptoms include lack of sweating; hot, red or flushed dry skin; raid pulse; difficulty in breathing; chest pressure; agitation and confusion; disorientation.

Heat exhaustion may precede heat stroke. Common symptoms: nausea or vomiting, fatigue, weakness, panting, headache, muscle cramps and aches, dizziness.

"Zheng qi (healthy qi) is usually weak in hot days as pathogenic summer and damp prevail. That makes people vulnerable, especially when exposed to the sun for long periods," says Dr Chen Hao, associate chief physician of the Emergency Unit of the Longhua Hospital attached to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Those most susceptible include the elderly, infants, pregnant women, people who are undernourished, sick or suffering cardiovascular disease.

Most people quickly recover from heat exhaustion by drinking fluids to replace electrolytes and moving to shady, cool and airy places.

Severe heat stroke can be fatal if not treated in time.

Dr Chen advises World Expo visitors to be careful, wear a hat or carry an umbrella, carry water and sip frequently.

Apart from high temperatures, long spells of intense work, lack of sleep, fatigue, alcohol, hunger, thirst and wearing constricting clothes can all contribute to heat stroke.

Dr Chen advises against going outdoors from 11am to 3pm in very hot weather. Hat, umbrella and water are essential for those who must go outdoors.

Loose light-colored clothing made of natural fibers that allow air to circulate is recommended,

"Don't wait until you feel thirsty," says Dr Chen. "Drinking water occasionally will help prevent electrolyte imbalance in advance."

Drinks like lightly salted water, drinks of honeysuckle and plum syrup are recommended for those who sweat a lot. Coffee and alcohol cause dehydration and should be avoided.

Discomfort can be relieved by applying feng you jing, a herbal oil made of mint and camphor, and applying acupressure pressure on tai yang, the acupuncture point at the temples.

Taking four to eight ren dan (TCM patent pills made of ageratum, orange peel and mint) every three to four hours can help.

Getting enough sleep and eating a balanced diet with pathogenic heat-dispelling foods can help keep the body in good shape.

Healthy recipes for hot weather


Ingredients: Huo xiang (ageratum, 6g), mint (3g), white lablab seed (50g), green beans (100g)


1. Soak beans and lablab seeds for 30 minutes.

2. Cook beans and lablab seeds in a saucepan with water until soft.

3. Add ageratum and mint; cook a few minutes.

4. Add sugar to sweeten.

Benefits: Helps dispel pathogenic heat and damp, reinforces healthy qi.


Ingredients: Rice (100g), huang qi/milk veteh (6g), lotus leaf (15g), jujubes (10g)


1. Break jujubes with hands.

2. Make congee with rice, jujubes, and milk veteh.

3. Add lotus leaf when congee thickens.

Benefits: Reinforces healthy qi. Lotus leaf helps dispel pathogenic heat and relieve summer sickness.

Chufa and orange peel

Ingredients: Chufa (100g), orange peel (3g)


1. Peel and chop the chufa.

2. Cook juice out of orange peel.

3. Quick fry chufa and sprinkle with orange peel juice.

Benefits: Helps dispel pathogenic heat. Orange peel helps regulate qi and improve appetite.


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