Balance Summer Heat and Humidity–Tips to Eliminate Inflammation, Dampness, and Edema

In some parts of the world, the summer season is one of high humidity. Such environments can cause the body to produce excessive moisture, which according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. What are the symptoms of excessive moisture and how can they be alleviated?

Symptoms of excessive moisture can include feelings of top-heaviness, fatigue, and edema. Wu Hongqian, a TCM physician from Yisheng Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic in Taiwan shares about the signs of excess body moisture and provides several ways to effectively remove dampness and reduce edema.

4 Signs of ‘Excessive Dampness’

1. Heaviness

A feeling of heaviness in the head and body, a sensation of laziness in the limbs, and an overall feeling of “lifelessness.”

2. Stickiness

A feeling of stickiness occurs throughout the body, such as sticky stools, or recurring eczema.

3. Downward Flowing Energy

In TCM moisture is considered to flow downward—thus symptoms will appear in the reproductive system or the lower part of the body, such as edema of the lower limbs, and itching, odor, and dampness in the genital area.

4. Tightness

Dampness can hinder the body’s movement of qi (vital energy). If you feel chest tightness, have difficulty swallowing, have no appetite, and feel bloated after eating just a little, dampness is likely hindering the movement of the spleen and stomach qi.

TCM holds that a healthy person’s body is characterized by smooth and regular “qi” and blood circulation. When the qi and blood circulation in the body is out of rhythm, one can become ill.

Other symptoms include:

  • Acne and/or excessive facial oil.
  • White, thick tongue coating causing bad breath.
  • Obesity: In TCM, dampness is considered a high-risk factor for obesity and its complications.
  • Accelerated aging: According to TCM theory, dampness creates mucus which is stored in the lungs, blocking water metabolism, creating heat, anxiety, and accelerating aging.
  • Chronic inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation

High humidity can easily cause chronic inflammation in the body, with accompanying symptoms of dry mouth, and constipation or diarrhea.

To alleviate chronic inflammation, Wu suggests eating more colorful fruits and vegetables because they contain high antioxidant content that can reduce internal body inflammation and relieve the symptoms of aseptic inflammation.

TCM has long established the concept of aseptic inflammation and has identified many Chinese medicinal substances, as well as foods for clearing heat and aiding in detoxification. These include yellow celery, yellow lotus, watermelon, and coconut water.

TCM Methods for Eliminating Dampness

Dispelling dampness, or removing moisture from the body, is a unique concept in TCM. Wu explained that TCM regards “dampness” as “phlegm dampness,” an abnormal metabolite of the body.

TCM recommends the following four remedies for dehumidification and the prevention of external dampness:

Method 1: Reduce Moisture Intrusion

  • Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner in summer, or a heater in winter to reduce indoor humidity.
  • Avoid rushing in or out of air-conditioned rooms: With abrupt changes in temperature from hot to cold, or vice versa, the body needs to consume additional energy from the kidney meridian to regulate. For the frail elderly such abrupt changes could cause myocardial infarction or stroke.
  • Keep air conditioning temperature at a lower setting as it can reduce the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors. As a bonus, it also saves on energy costs and consumption.

Method 2: Drink Water in Frequent Small Sips to Promote Metabolism

One way to increase the body’s dehumidification and metabolism is to drink water more frequently and in smaller quantities. Wu said that the work rate of body metabolism is always constant and that drinking a large amount of water within a short time will only result in more urine. On the other hand, drinking water more frequently and in smaller sips can help the body’s cell metabolism, reduce edema, and prevent phlegm and dampness.

Method 3: Dampness-clearing Tea

Wu provides the following herbal recipe for Er Chen Tang (Two matured substances decoction) Wu Ling San (Five substances powder with Poria), a dampness-clearing tea.

Ingredients:

  • 3 grams (0.1 ounces) of licorice, 5 grams (0.2 ounces) of Pinellia, 5 grams (0.2 ounces) of tangerine peel, 10 grams (0.4 ounces) of codonopsis, 10 grams (0.4 ounces) of Phyllostachys, 10 grams (0.4 ounces) of poria cocos.
  • 1500 ml (3.2 pints) of water

Directions:

  • Add the herbs to water and bring to a boil for three minutes.
  • Strain the herbs from the liquid.
  • The resulting herbal liquid can be consumed at room temperature similarly to drinking regular water.

Method 4: Foot Care

Sitting for many hours at a time can cause symptoms of foot edema. Wu emphasized that such edema must be removed on the same day because once the cellular spaces become accustomed to excess water, they will become loose, resulting in regular accumulation of fluids. Wu provides three ways to eliminate edema:

  • Walk briskly for 30 minutes to increase blood circulation through the contraction of calf muscles.
  • Soak the feet. Those unable able to take walks can soak their feet in warm (104-108 degrees F/40-42 degrees C) water for 15 minutes.
  • Move the ankles: After doing the first or second above, do some ankle exercises.

Ankle exercises:

1. Rotate one ankle in one direction, then the other. Repeat with the other ankle.

2. Lift the toes and pull them back for about 15 seconds.

3. Stand on tiptoes for about 15 seconds.

*Some herbs mentioned in this article may be unfamiliar, but they are generally available in Asian supermarkets.

Note: Because different people have different constitutions, consulting your doctor or TCM experts is recommended.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit through our form here.

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Amber Yang worked as a marketing manager for natural skin care products for years and as a health and beauty reporter and editor for ten years. She is also the host and producer of the YouTube programs "Amber Running Green" and "Amber Health Interview."
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