I don't know about you, but here on the East Coast we are having such inconsistent weather patterns and I'm seeing so many people falling ill. It can be challenging to navigate general seasonal changes and transitions but when we have multiple types of weather within one season that absolutely doesn't fit the normal pattern, people have a difficult time with keeping up.
I feel there is a collective eagerness to just have winter over with so that we can have more steady climate of warmth and moist (rains/humidity etc.) This climate has been going from hot to cold to dry to moist and everything in between and so quickly. We went from 60 degrees to 70 degrees to 47 degrees within three days. Knowing that things are fluctuating as much as they are, causes intense stress on our digestion and state of mind. In Ayurveda, the key to health and the main root of most diseases begins in the digestive system and in the mind. Therefore, this is where we address things at the simplest and subtlest levels. In Ayurveda, we note that there are is a six step process or pathology to disease. You can read more about it HERE. It is clear that when we can catch the initial digestive disturbances that we can prevent further ailments from developing. These are the little symptoms that tend to go unnoticed. For instance and primarily, the main subtle digestive disturbance for Vata predominant imbalances is gas and mild constipation; for Pitta, we have burning indigestion and for Kapha predominant imbalances we have sluggish digestion. This is the phase known as Accumulation/Aggravation (Sanchaya/Prakopa), and where we can address diet and lifestyle without the usage of herbs/medications (usually.)
Currently, with the weather patterns being as they are, it is IMPORTANT to take note of how dryness and coldness are still present. Even when we have a 70 degree day, the night air and the subtle quality of the air is still slightly cool, which varies in comparison to the 70 degree day we have in May. This quality of air is important to be aware of because this is what slips into the nervous system and digestive system, wreaking havoc. In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) this is called "wind" and in Ayurveda it is called a Vata disturbance or vitiation. The dryness can enter into the digestive system and slowly dry up the pre-existing membranes where ever natural mucus shows up in the body. This mucus is healthy Kapha and this form of kapha also shows up in the plasma of cells, known as Rasa, which requires utmost hydration and fortification through dietary intake, and adequate lymphatic stimulation. You can learn more about catching the dryness before it catches you by reading this article. HERE.
As eager as many people are to wear shorts on 70 days and bundle up again, just as quickly the next day, this all adds up to systemic stress. In order to not overheat and still feel comfortable, I recommend wearing comfortable and lighter clothing on warmer days but keep the extremities, especially the neck, protected and covered.
Below are some simple recommendations that have helped many of my patients, and can help you:
1) Be truly mindful that the official mark of spring is around the corner and it was still February when it was February and we are now entering into March. By being mindful we can keep in mind that it's not summer yet and to not go extreme from shorts to sweats, but to find a happy medium by wearing light cotton clothing that still protects the surface of the skin and keep the back of the neck protected because this is one of the ways "wind" enters into the nervous system. Both Ayurveda and TCM point out that there are two entrance ways, located around C1-C2 (cervical discs) that allow for the wind to enter.
2) Stay hydrated, not as much with plain old water but more with water that has been infused by a light juice and pinch of salt, making it a natural "gatorade" that supports hydration of the cells through osmosis and encouragement of the sodium-potassium pumps. This strengthens the cells' outermost layer. This "gatorade" which is an electrolyte booster can be made simply with some 1/4 lime juice, 2 tbs. maple syrup, 2 cups filtered water, and pinch of sea salt.
3) Properly oleating the body with ingestion of oils such as Flax Seed, GHEE (number 1), and coconut oil. Olive oil is okay.
4) External application of oil through massage or what Ayurveda calls "Self-Abhyanga." Banyan has a great and balancing formulated oil called "Daily Massage Oil." See this LINK. Type in Daily Massage Oil.
5) In alignment with the above, it is important to oleate the exposed mucous membranes, such as the mouth, the eyes, the ears and the nose. For the nose, we use a medicated oil or a basic oil such as ghee or sesame and apply it with a dropper, a finger or the tip of a Q-tip. For the eyes, we can spritz the eyes with pure rose water and/or add a drop of ghee in each eye before bed. For the ears, we can add a drop of ghee or sesame oil before bed. For the mouth, we can ingest oils through cooking and/or do what is called Gandusha (Oil Pulling) with 2tbs. of sesame oil. Keeping these orifices moist is imperative to our health. The elements can externally affect and afflict these areas, and what we take in (or don't take in) through diet, can affect the quality of our skin, internally and externally.
6) Ensure that foods are still warm and not too heavy, and not too light (like basic cold salads.) It's too soon for the latter, though we are encroaching upon sprouting season and baby greens, along with seasonal fruits that begin this time of year which include blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
7) Teas like pure Tulsi, Turmeric and Ginger; even combined, make a powerful brew to keep away the immune blues.
8) Drinking teas means AVOIDING anything cold and icey. Cold and ice actually create dryness due to its astringent nature which pulls water versus fortifies it. Read my article on ICE for more details. Ice isn't nice but it is cool.
9) Vitamins such as A, B complex, C and D are great for regulating immune system functioning, working as adaptogens to counter stress and bring balance to the body and mind.
10) Herbs such as Tulsi, Turmeric, Ashwagandha, Ginger, Guduchi, Ginseng, Licorice and Astragalus. One of my favorite herbal formulas that really goes deep and quick is Immune Support from Banyan Botanicals. This formula is great for when there is even just a tickle in the throat, scratchy or the overall feeling like something is coming on, in terms of some basic imbalance like a cold/cough/flu.
11) Remember, it's not summer yet and thinking these independently hot days in the middle of spring is a sure sign of predictability, think again. The unpredictability should raise awareness to be more mindful of being in the present moment and making better choices in the grander scheme of things. Meaning that it is still March is March and a hot day doesn't make it July. In knowing that there is instability and we must find some sort of common ground in each day in order to ensure health remains level and least stressed but the fluctuations of climate. If we meet the extremity with extremity, we are sure to meet turbulence in our health.
12) "The body is a historical system and depends on consistency for its health maintenance." - Mary Thompson. Food for thought.
DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.