If you have ever stayed in the sun too long and experienced dizziness, headache, extreme tiredness/weakness, nausea and/or an elevated core body temperature, you may have suffered from heat exhaustion.
Without treatment, heat exhaustion can develop into heatstroke which is a “severe condition caused by impairment of the body’s temperature-regulating abilities, resulting from prolonged exposure to excessive heat and characterized by cessation of sweating, severe headache, high fever, hot dry skin, and in serious cases collapse and coma”. (FreeDictionary.com)
The main difference between heat exhaustion and heatstroke is the core body temperature. With heatstroke, core body temperature is above 104 degrees F, with heat exhaustion it is below that.
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious conditions that require immediate attention.
In these situations, it is important to cool the body as soon as possible. A lukewarm or cool bath is often helpful in regulating body temperature. Adding peppermint to the bath should speed up the process.
Peppermint enhances circulation and soothes the nerves. It is known to lessen the effects of overexposure (to heat and cold), and also helps alleviate nausea. Since peppermint provides aid to so many symptoms that are experienced during heat exhaustion, it is an excellent choice for treatment.
How to administer peppermint during heat exhaustion or mild heatstroke:
The first step is to take a Peppermint bath and soak for at least 20 minutes.
In addition, drink cool (not ice-cold) peppermint tea before, during or after the bath.
How to Make a Peppermint Bath
First you will make an infusion:
In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to the boil. Once boiling, turn off the stove.
Add 6 ounces of peppermint leaves to the hot water. Cover.
Allow to steep for 20 to 30 minutes before straining out the leaves. It is usually easiest to strain the leaves by placing some cheesecloth over a large container and securing with a rubber band. Then pour the infusion through, catching the leaves in the cheesecloth.
Next, add the infusion to the bath:
Fill the bath with cool to lukewarm water (the water should be comfortable to the patient). Then add the strained infusion.
The bath is now ready for the patient (who should soak for a minimum of 20 minutes).
If a bath is not possible, the peppermint infusion can also be used to sponge the patient down. You could also soak a few washcloths in the peppermint infusion and lay over the forehead, across the feet, and the inside of the wrists.
How to make Peppermint Tea:
Steep 1 teaspoon of peppermint leaves in warm water for 15 minutes. Then strain.
Peppermint oil is also useful in treating other forms of overexposure, such as hypothermia. Since it aids circulation, drinking hot peppermint tea can help take chills out of the body. Preparing the same infusion as above, and pouring into a warm bath, will help heat the body if it has become extremely cold.
I am grateful to Lalitha Thomas’ book, 10 Essential Herbs, for introducing me to this treatment.
Preventing heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Of course, it would be much better to avoid these situations altogether! Here are a few steps you can take to prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke when you must be out in the hot sun:
- Drink plenty of water (avoid caffeinated beverages)
- Wear thin, long sleeved shirts (to allow air in, but keep sun out). Cotton is best because it is breathable.
- Get in the shade whenever possible.
- Keep a spray bottle filled with water and spray yourself regularly to keep cool.
- Limit physical activity. Severe heat is not the time to shot for a personal best on your running time!
Do you have any tips for preventing or treating heat exhaustion or heatstroke?
If you have ever experienced heat exhaustion or heatstroke, you know how frightening it can be. Please remember that heatstroke is considered a medical emergency and can be fatal. It should be tended to immediately. This information is based on my own research. I am not a medical professional. Please contact your medical provider if you suspect heatstroke.
Stacy is wife to a preacher and mom to three busy children. She strives to live a healthy, happy life with God at the helm. Stacy writes about finding peace and joy at home, on her blog: Delighting in the Days.