We have been having a very hot summer thus far and people have been coming in with a lot of non-summer related symptoms; namely sinus congestion, phlegm and chest oppression. We typically think of allergies when describing these symptoms, which generally occur during the spring and fall. However, they seem to be creeping into more and more people’s summer experience.
The Northeast has always been considered to have fairly humid weather, although this year seems to be more so. Whether that is actually the case or not, the addition of the intense heat these last few weeks further compounds the effects of the damp and humid weather. This external climate has a huge impact upon our internal climate. If we experience any version of either heat or dampness within ourselves, the weather can exacerbate these conditions. When we have both, we can experience even more extreme symptomology.
Imagine what humidity feels like; oppressive, heavy, congested, pressure, tiring. This is what dampness can feel like in the body. It can manifest as congestion, headaches, heavy limbs, low energy, digestive distension, clouded thinking, or depression. When combined with heat, we start to see signs of a cooked or boiled dampness; think, yellow/green phlegm, high blood pressure, kidney/gall stones, urinary tract infections, dizziness, impaired judgment, weepy and red skin conditions, irrational irritability.
Our aches and pains are intensified as well. The high heat and heavy sensation of dampness in the air can weigh heavily upon our muscles and joints. A knee, for example, that is predisposed to pain, can act up and get worse when the weather becomes damper. It may get hot and swollen in these conditions, too – this is the heat pathology showing itself.
In this way, damp heat in our environment can worsen possible damp heat conditions in our systems. With awareness of our current health condition and what can possibly make those conditions worse, we can make decisions that best accommodate relief and benefit for our health. If you suffer from damp-heat conditions, take extra care during this weather to take care of yourself. Staying hydrated can help to keep fluids up when we sweat, but also can actually drain pathological dampness in our system. Cool mint tea is a great way to cool down. Stay away from spicy, greasy, or heavy foods. Eat cooling foods like cucumber, lemons, melons, summer squash, and apples. And eat drying foods like rye, celery, turnips, asparagus, onion, and scallions. Of course, getting regular acupuncture and herbal remedies is also very important. So be aware of your health and take the necessary actions to stay cool and dry this summer!