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Moisture – Can We Get Too Much?

Ayurvedic Element Chart

Ayurvedic Element Chart

Just before we get to our topic on moisture, have you noticed the new feature on the website? It’s an A – Z list of common health problems, with a guide to herbal remedies that are effective and appropriate.

In writing this next post, I’m going to adhere to the structure I set in place with the last, of getting our Energetics knowledge in place, as a useful platform from which to venture ever closer to the “cutting edge” of my research and interest.

In raising the question, “Can we get too much moisture”, I am embarking on a somewhat challenging topic, not intellectually, but emotionally, because I have a dry temperament and I live in a climate that can get extremely hot and dry in summer. In fact today it’s 40 degrees Celsius outside and the concept of excess moisture, already somewhat alien, becomes even more remote.
I would gladly rush outside and immerse myself in a waterfall, or dive into a pool, if only there was.

But you, the reader, could be sitting with snow piled up around your house, or torrential rain pouring down, or sweltering humidity and you would tell me that yes, it can get too much!

Let’s open the subject by exploring varying forms of dampness from an Ayurvedic perspective:
Firstly, there’s the moisture that makes up the basic plasma of the body and acts as a storehouse of phlegm, to be secreted as needed and which supports the other types of moisture.
The organs responsible for distributing plasma and phlegm are the heart and lungs – with extension to mucous membranes throughout the body.

Secondly, there’s the saliva in the mouth, which promotes taste and gets the digestive process started.

Thirdly, the “digestive juices” of the stomach, which liquefy food and take the digestive process further

Fourthly, the synovial fluid of the joints, which keeps them lubricated and moving freely, is yet another form of moisture.

Fifth, the cerebro-spinal fluid, the “water that brings contentment”, located primarily in the brain (also spine and heart…) nourishing the brain – bringing calm, happiness, stability, clear memory and bliss.

Moisture, to include sweat, tears, sexual fluids and oils, keep the body lubricated and stop it from drying out or overheating and they should be replenished by the fluids that we take into our bodies. But as we know, many fluids have a drying effect on the body, in particular those with an astringent, bitter or spicy taste.
We saw in Step Two of the previous post on this blog: that beverages such as Ceylon / Chinese / Green tea and Coffee can have a dehydrating effect, but I didn’t mention that this diuretic impact can last for approximately 20 hours after consumption. Alcohol is another commonly consumed drying liquid and many herbal teas are drying to the body, albeit often more moderately.

So how do damp conditions arise within the body? There are essentially three categories of damp conditions – one in which the body is overwhelmed by liquids and / or moistening foods and herbs, the second in which the fluid levels are moderate, but the organs responsible for dealing with them are unable to process, or move the fluids at a sufficient rate and a third in which the fluids have become too thick, viscous or congealed – hindering movement and forming obstructions.

Those most prone to excessive dampness are people with an already wet constitution, the Kapha types, or as they’re known in the language of Temperaments – the sanguine (warm and damp) and more especially the phlegmatic (cold and damp). As a general rule, the more dampness we have in our bodies, the more prone we are to gaining and retaining weight. Conversely, dry usually equals slim or skinny.
Whilst this rule of thumb is broadly appropriate, there are exceptions and permutations.

Other than temperament, there is a strong influence from our environment, for example living in a wet or humid climate, walking in the rain, sleeping on damp ground, wearing wet clothes, or swimming a lot can also contribute to the body becoming too damp, as can the energetic influence of our food and drink.

Dampness in the body behaves as it does in nature – in comparison with air, or space, it is wet, heavy and slow. It moves downwards and it tends to accumulate. The symptoms of excess dampness are characterised by heaviness, soreness, pressure, dullness and excessive secretions and excretions, such as the three D’s – dribbling, discharge or diarrhoea.

Some organs have a liking for dampness, whilst others are quite easily troubled by it.
Can you guess which organ prefers what condition?
Let’s leave this tasty morsel of a question hanging awhile and in my next post I’ll take a look at how the different organs respond to dampness and which foods and drinks promote, or disperse moisture.

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