We are walking barometers! Just like animals and plants can sense changes in weather, so can many people. And many people do not realize that it’s the weather that is making them feel lousy. Some of the meteorological variables implicated include: temperature, barometric pressure, rainfall, humidity, thunder-storm activity, sunshine, and the level of ionization of the air. Rapid changes in temperature affect blood pH, blood pressure, urine volume, and tissue permeability. Our bodies react to cold by constricting the blood vessels in the periphery, making the heart work harder. A significant drop in barometric pressure leads to an expansion of air in isolated body cavities and of fluids in membranes. This can injure tissues in joints or muscles, causing aches and pain. Some people experience the same phenomenon during air travel when the cabin pressure drops during take-off. In addition, bones and muscles have different densities. During temperature and humidity variations unequal expansion and contraction of these tissues may increase the pain in inflamed joints and injured muscles.
Winds can bring dramatic temperature changes and, more importantly, changes in electrical charge, and this can directly impact our moods. Negatively charged ions in the air, such as those produced by ocean waves and waterfalls, make us feel positive and lift our spirits. Positively charged ions make us feel down and agitated. When warm, dry winds blow, dust attaches to negative ions and they lose their charge thus increasing the ratio of positive ions which means more negative mood. Humidity, pollution and high pollen counts also deplete negative ions. As long as the winds blow, the positive ions tend to accumulate. In many cultures, seasonal winds are referred to as ‘ill winds’ or ‘winds of depression’. Such winds are associated with feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and sleepless nights around the world. Studies show that when some of these winds blow, traffic accident, crime and suicide rates all rise significantly. In Traditional Chinese Medicine wind is considered a pathogen, just like a virus is considered a pathogen.
There are a few cities where there are more negative than positive ions in the air: Niagara Falls, Canada; Sedona, Arizona; Mt Shasta, California; and Kauai, Hawaii. People living in these areas say they feel healthier. A ratio of 5 negative to 4 positive ions produces a sense of well-being. ‘Sick building syndrome’ is more common today than it was 20 years ago. Most homes and offices are built to be airtight and when the heating or air conditioner is running this causes friction, which depletes the negative ions. Consequently, only the positive ions are left to re-circulate. Bacteria, mold, mildew and allergies thrive in positive ion air. Synthetic clothes and carpeting cause friction and deplete negative ions. Some natural fibers repel positive ions! Nature has its own way of creating negative ions. When it rains heavily negative ions are generated. That is why the air feels so refreshing and uplifting after a heavy downpour.
Medical conditions that are sensitive to weather changes include: rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, low back pain, gout, fibromyalgia, phantom limb pain, scar pain, headaches, trigeminal neuralgia, and pain influenced by mood disorders. Weather is also associated with changes in birth rates, sperm count, outbreaks of pneumonia, influenza and bronchitis. In advance of a cold front, we often see showers and thunderstorms, and a decrease in barometric pressure. In these low pressure conditions some people feel edgy and their arthritis flares up. More than 50% of migraine sufferers say their headaches have a weather trigger, and studies confirm the relationship between the numbers of reported migraine attacks and rapid changes in barometric pressure. One study found that migraines were most likely to occur on days with falling pressure, rising humidity, high winds, and rapid temperature fluctuations.
What Can You Do?
The following are some countermeasures that could improve your reaction to those malevolent weather fronts: Avoid overheated and stuffy rooms; Go for full spectrum lighting, not fluorescent, (you may need to add you own incandescent or full spectrum flourescent lamps); Get plenty of fresh air and sunshine; Try enjoying the outdoors in all weather conditions; Open your windows more; Take alternating warm and cold showers; Wear natural fiber clothing rather than synthetic; Go for hardwood and tile floors over synthetic carpeting; Ensure regular sleep; Have a balanced and healthy diet, (As part of my nutrition counseling, I typically suggest an anti-inflammatory diet high in vegetables and fruits and lower in animal products); Try anti-inflammatory supplements such as curcumin, boswella and bromelain as well as anti-histimines like quercetin, NAC and stinging nettles.
Consider coming in for a wellness visit with me at the Live Well Holistic Health Center. In a visit with me, Dr. Martin Orimenko, I will use Kiniesiology and other non-invasive testing techniques to prescribe supplements and a diet that is personalized for you, your body, your health concerns and any health conditions you are working to overcome.