Humidity has a tendency to make many of us feel:
- Sweaty and sticky (a skin nightmare!) – use this scrub recipe
- Irritable or melancholy
- Foggy headed
- Not hungry, and yet still craving comfort foods and drinks
- Nauseous and/or prone to loose bowels
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we refer to this syndrome as ‘dampness’. That is, humidity from the environment, our lifestyle and diet has accumulated in our body and become stagnant, making us feel… bleh.
So, if this sounds like you in humid weather, what can be done?
- Keep moving – keep up the exercise even when you feel heavy and unmotivated, it will help you feel better. Don’t sit for too long, get up regularly.
- Stay dry – don’t sit around in sweaty clothes or wet swimsuits. Towel off properly and get changed. Also be aware of your living, working and playing environments – are they well ventilated and dry?
- Keep up your fluids – it may sound counterproductive to drink more water (2-3L) but we need to promote urination to pass the excess fluid from your system. That is, clean fluids going in so we can wash away the stagnant ones.
- Eat small meals, regularly, and make your lightest meal in the evening. Don’t overeat.
- Reduce sweet, oily, rich and dairy foods – An icy soft drink, creamy gelati or fresh mango may seem like just the treat to give you a refreshing pick up but it will probably have the opposite effect, making you feel heavier and more lethargic than you were before. Steer clear of soft drinks, fruit juices, milk shakes, smoothies, ice cream, excessive high-sugar tropical fruits (eg. mangoes and bananas), fatty meats and greasy fried foods. Before you get upset that I have taken your mango away (because let’s face it, they are delicious), a slice or two after a meal with a slice or two of pawpaw or pineapple is fine for aiding your digestion, we just shouldn’t go crazy on them. While we are at it, an excessive intake of grains (eg. pasta dishes) will add to the damp feeling.
- Eat more light, bitter and pungent foods – these are what you can eat and will help your body reduce excessive fluids that are being held. Make sure to eat small, light meals that include some ginger, garlic, onions, chili, caraway seeds, aduki (red beans) beans, mung beans, bitter leafy greens, alfalfa sprouts, celery and rye (if gluten is ok). A squeeze of lemon or lime in your food and water will be refreshing. Diuretic teas – nettle leaf, dandelion, corn silk (here is a recipe on how to make it) and green teas are useful – drink them like they are water. Barley water can also make for a refreshing diuretic drink, although not for the gluten intolerant.
- Herbs and acupuncture – if the humidity is still knocking you around and the thought of doing anything on this list is beyond you, get some professional help from a herbalist or acupuncturist. They will choose the right herbs (often bitters) and acupoints to kickstart moving the dampness so that you can then get back on track with the lifestyle and dietary recommendations.
If it’s more the heat than the humidity that is getting to you – here’s some ideas to help you feel cooler.
Eating a diet to resolve dampness isn’t fun. But neither is feeling heavy, lethargic and unmotivated. So, do what you can, keep moving and if you can make even just a few of the dietary recommendations you should feel lighter and brighter to enjoy this summer.
To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture). Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.