As summer approaches, humidity rises especially here in the south. For many people, high humidity makes it harder to breathe, to cool off, and to feel energetic. It is easy to get dehydrated when the humidity is high in the summer because body temperature is higher. Also, a person’s anxiety level can rise, and heart attack risks increase with high levels of humidity.
From the perspective of Chinese medicine, high humidity affects the body as dampness. Many illnesses are associated with dampness: fibromyalgia, a feeling of heaviness and bloating, nodular masses, sore joints, dizziness, and other conditions.
When summer’s high humidity is here, we turn on the AC. We depend on air conditioning to not only cool off the air, but to also reduce the water level in the air. If we don’t have AC, we open windows or turn on fans to move air, reduce stagnation, and improve our bodies’ ability to evaporate sweat to cool us.
Certain herbal remedies and dietary changes can resolve dampness. Herbs such as mint, fennel seed, coriander, saffron, dill, and small amounts of cumin or cardamom can be added to cooked dishes or tea to promote cooling and reduce the overheating effects of high humidity. Drinking adequate cool water and electrolyte rich beverages can reduce the risk of dehydration as well as cool the body.
Moderate exercise and yoga postures can help to improve movement of the organs, reducing stagnation, and improve elimination.
As humidity levels rise, take care of at-risk folks and yourself. If you feel high humidity levels negatively affect you, be sure to ask your healthcare provider for help.