What Does "Dryness" Mean According to Traditional Chinese Medicine?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there are 6 EVIL QI: dampness, cold, heat, fire, wind, and DRYNESS.
We use time (seasons, hours, years, etc) to track the evolution of one element into the next. You know how they say history repeats itself? It's the same idea.
Dryness correlates with the season of AUTUMN (mid-August through mid-October), the element of METAL, the organs of the Lung and Large Intestine (includes the SKIN and SINUSES), and the emotion of GRIEF.
It doesn't mean those things don't exist at other times of the year. They just exert a stronger influence at that time.
Your own Ba Zi (Chinese astrological chart based on the Qi of your birth day, time, month, and year) shows how the Metal element influences you personally.
And, man, is it dry out there now and here (Central Texas in August)! The grass is dry; we're in a seemingly perpetural drought/fire warning; and it's ... sad. By this time of the year, we're just "done" with it. That's the grief, I think!
So, what's a person to do?!
My top recommendations for surviving and thriving with DRYNESS***:
1. SWIM - if it's available to you, find a natural spring, ocean, or clean body of water to dip into and refresh. Chlorine can be more drying, though, so take note.
2. HYDRATE - I get cranky when I get thirsty, and I refuse to believe I'm the only one who does. Invest in a large water bottle and keep it filled with filtered, fresh water. Drink up!
3. WATCH THE CAFFEINE, SUGAR, AND CHEMICAL INTAKE - chemicals and drugs dry you out and use up your H20, requiring you to drink more water.
4. USE OILS - oils are of course the natural solution to dryness. Use olive oil on your salads; cook with ghee or butter; take a fish oil every day. Hydrate your skin after bathing with a rich, natural moisturizer like Jojoba, Shea Butter, or Coconut oil.
5. GRIEVE - each season corresponds with a different body fluid. The fluid for the fall is tears. In the 5 elements theory, metal "holds" water. When we're processing grief, we should allow the tears to fall when they may and not repress them. Of course, you can't force this, it can only happen naturally.
6. EAT MOISTENING FOODS - tofu, spinach, barley, millet, pears, apples, seaweed, mushrooms, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, flaxseed oil, eggs, crab, pork, and honey are all considered moistening in TCM.
7. USE MOISTENING HERBS - it's best to have a licensed herbalist prescribe what you need because although they're natural, herbs are powerful. It's best to have a full knowledge of herbs before self-prescribing.
* That said, Lily Bulb (百合, Bai He) helps moisten the Lungs and relieves a dry cough. Just boil water, then turn off the burner, and place the herb in the hot water for 20 minutes. I recommend adding a little licorice to the pot. Strain and drink 4 ounces twice per day. Add a teaspoonful of local, natural honey if you like. Honey is also moistening!
* Snow Ear Mushroom (白木耳, Bai Mu Er) is delicious. We frequently add it into our community "hot pot." It's great for diabetics. It helps regenerate your Stomach Qi and Yin, and therefore helps with constipation. It needs to soak in the hot water or broth for just a few minutes before it's ready to eat. Looks funny - tastes great.
* Glehnia Root (北沙参, Bei Sha Shen) can sometimes be found at the Chinese supermarket, but usually is part of a larger herbal formula. It's used for a dry cough or constipation.
* Goji Berries (枸杞子, Gou Qi Zi) is a commonly found TCM herb. You can munch on them straight from the package if you want. It's my favorite herb to use (along with Chrysanthemum) for DRY EYES. Eat up to 12 berries a day. Use less if you get loose stools after consuming.
*** all of these tips are for everyone, EXCEPT the foods and herbs. If you tend more toward DAMP conditions, as opposed to DRY, the moistening herbs and foods will make you feel worse.
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