Stay healthy in relentless rain
And so the rain keeps falling…
Britain has long been known for its cold and damp climate, but it looks like climate change is taking us to the next level – we’ve had the wettest January since 1910, and there’s more on the way.
In the clinic it’s obvious that many of my clients are starting to be affected; coughs and colds of course, but also full blown ‘flu, aching joints, heavy and painful muscles and headaches. Empirically speaking, all of these are symptoms that accompany the poor circulation that is caused by cold and damp; and the longer that the cold and damp persist, the more of us succumb.
Digestion is similarly affected, so there has been a rash of constipation, diarrhoea and belly aches.
In modern times our culture has been stripped of answers to such climatic stress, but this wasn’t always the case. So here’s a quick practical guide derived from traditions around the world showing how to prevent damp induced bugs and gripes.
Avoid phlegm formers, and thus provide no grist to the viral mill. The big three phlegm formers are sugar, wheat and dairy (especially cheese). Because it’s winter, food and drink should be hot and nourishing. Soups are in, ice cream and fruit juice are out.
Diet that stimulates circulation and foods that are anti-viral are also important. This means aromatics and spices. Onions, garlic, spring onion, ginger, turmeric and chilli are particularly good. But just about any aromatic herb or spice will help. As will bitter spices such as fenugreek.
Overall this means that your food should have a strong taste. And be sustaining. Foods like a spicy cassoulet, slow cooked beef shin with horseradish, carrots and turnip, ox tail and root vegetables and spiced chestnut soup are on the money.
If you are having breakfast cereal (especially wheat based) with cold milk in the morning you’re asking for trouble.
Healthy lungs mean strong immunity. This is why aromatic oils are important. The Chinese tradition is that to strengthen the lungs one mediates under pine tree – the aromatic pine oils decongest and free the breath. In our climate we should be sensitive to this need – we’ve got one of the highest rates of respiratory illness in the world. And damp and cold make it so much worse as the air inhibits circulation in sinuses and lungs. Why aren’t British homes famous for smelling like pine or eucalyptus forests? They should be – and routine use of essential oils is the answer.
In many cases my clients are also experiencing painful joints and heavy limbs. One solution is to take ginger baths:
Boil a handful of fresh root ginger in 2 pints of water for 10 minutes then add the whole lot to your bath. Be careful of your sensitive bits though – ginger baths aren’t for everyone.
And finally don’t forget to go out with a hat, a scarf and an umbrella. An obvious point I know, but it’s amazing how many people have bare heads and necks. Warm, dry heads and necks mean better circulation, which means more white blood cells, which means less coughs and colds!