Every time I turn around lately, someone’s blaming a healthy food for causing indigestion, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and probably last week’s summer flu. With all the GMOs, antibiotics, hormones and chemicals in our food, it’s an easy conclusion to draw.
But I have another theory. And Chinese medicine will back me up. People with chronic Heat and Damp imbalances in their constitution often don’t feel good this time of year.
Hot, damp weather can aggravate existing problems in the gut, as well as the skin, urinary tract and not surprisingly, the mind.
Heat and Dampness are two of the six ‘pernicious evils’ in Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM]. The theory goes that too much heat outside can aggravate heat inside the body. Same goes for dampness.
Summer is prime time for Heat, with a capital H, to mess with people who already suffer from one or more symptoms like:
- Acid-indigestion or ‘hot burps’
- Persistent acne breakouts, boils or red-toned skin eruptions or rashes
- A tendency to be more irritable, cranky or even talkative in hot weather
- Concentrated, dark urine or burning urinary tract infections
- A tendency to be thirsty, especially for cool or cold fluids
- Dryness and constipation (heat has a tendency to dry things out, right?)
- A red tongue, a fast pulse (more than 20 beats every 15 seconds) and a flushed face
When you add in the dampness that Summer humidity brings, it can complicate a Heat pattern in your body, causing dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and almost a flu-like feeling. We call this Summer Heat in TCM. It’s so nasty it falls into its own special category of ‘evil’.
Even if you’re not taken by the extremes of Summer Heat and Dampness, you can still feel occasional and persistent bloating, nausea, heartburn, acid burping, constipation/diarrhea or any of those uncomfortable digestive symptoms we like to blame on the picnic food or weekend splurges.
What to do about it? It’s not always the food’s fault, but it helps to avoid greasy, fried foods, cheese and alcohol, which contribute to the Heat and Damp imbalances.
Cool watermelon, berries, garden salads and cooling sun teas made from herbs like mint, lemon balm, basil, hibiscus with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of stevia are great Summertime options to balance digestion. And when digestion is working well, everything else tends to fall in line.
5 Tips for digestive health during hot, humid weather:
- Eat until you’re 70% full – not until you’re burping and bloated
- Fill up on green, not grain – think kale, salad greens, cucumber, bell peppers, snap peas, zucchini
- Ditch the drink with dinner – it’s NOT helping an already sluggish digestive system (this includes water, milk, and soda)
- Get up early on the hottest, most humid days to work on outside chores, or save them for another day
- Consider bitters – a few drops of swedish bitters on the tongue 15 minutes before eating will stimulate digestive juices and help break down food. Or enjoy a little dandelion root tea in the evening to smooth things out the next morning
Here’s another idea: visit a trained, professional herbalist.Why feel miserable one more day? Call me at 402.933.6444 and schedule your appointment now. No time? Try my Quick Stop 15-minute visit for $20, plus herbs.