Each year the spring equinox marks the time when the sun aligns with the earth's equator and divides day and night neatly into two equal parts. From then on, the sun continues north, above the earth's equator, so that the days gradually become longer and the nights diminish. For those that stay on in Florida during these months, this signifies the start of the hot and humid summer season. 

In Chinese medicine, such seasonal weather is described as "damp heat." Although, there's nothing particularly bad about a hot day here and there, it is the combination of strong heat and high humidity that can be a challenge to health. Aside from the obvious risks of heat-related illnesses such as sunburn, heat cramps and heat exhaustion, which we all should be alert to avoid, there is a more subtle effect of this weather to consider.

The notion of "damp heat" consists of two ideas: dampness and heat. The first, dampness, relates to sluggishness of the body's processes such as a sluggish digestion, hazy mind or dragging feeling which seems as if one is running low on octane. The second factor, heat, does just the opposite and causes the body and mind to overcharge and go overboard. So, damp heat pulls you both up and down at the same time. 

The result will be specific to your unique physiology. Essentially, damp heat is a catch-all stressor that can figure out the weak link in a person's physical make-up and act to disrupt just that part of the health equation. So, regardless of how healthy you are, this is a time of year when it makes good sense to take a few extra steps to vouchsafe your well-being.

We will talk more about what to do in future blogs, but for now, the first important ideas are to make sure you drink extra fluid (especially good old plain--but filtered--water) and to find a short amount of time early in the day or evening to "chill out." In Chinese medicine, heat signifies more than just temperature; it describes a state of being that includes body, heart, mind and spirit. If you can find a way to check out from the demands of the day for at least 10 minutes, especially at dawn or dusk, and simply tune in to your own needs, you will be miles ahead in terms of health during the summer months.