The human animal is significantly a water being. The heart muscle, for example, is 80 percent water. Overall water composition varies with age, sex, and fat (lean tissue has more water). Living in the high country makes us acutely aware of water and exacerbates dryness. Colorado is a semi-arid state.
One of your Chi Chatters has just returned from the friendly skies where hydration has become a particularly tricky issue. As of this writing, it is true that you can’t take a filled water bottle on to an airplane. This flies in the face of common health sense as it is widely recognized that an airplane is a dehydrating environment where increased water consumption is recommended. Not only is it important to maintain good hydration, but it’s also a preventive measure, along with physical activity, against deep vein thrombosis.
Oriental medicine spends some time discoursing on the water metabolism (if not exactly in those terms). Many of the organ systems deal directly with water metabolic issues. There is an optimum balance between the relatively stagnant aspects of water and its moving qualities. In our environment, a stagnant pool of water is much less appealing than one that is moving in a flowing stream. Keeping water moving and lessening pathological pooling is accomplished by many healthy bodily systems. A major player here in the Oriental medical system is usually called “Spleen,” and that works with transforming and moving water. The Spleen is also associated with assimilation of physical, emotional, and spiritual nourishment.
Sometimes a water imbalance can manifest as edema or water swelling. Exercising in heat or living at higher altitudes (airplanes included) can manifest as a problem in the lungs. Two activities may be called for if you are having water problems either from overall hyper dryness or a hydration problem. Proper hydration is essential. Sip water almost constantly while exercising, flying, or visiting high altitudes. Along with this, the proper use of medicinal herbs to transform water may be appropriate. Stomach Chi can work well in that arena, nudging the water composition into balance. Sometimes, when swelling occurs, we tend to think we should lower our water intake, as there is too much water. NOT! The problem here is dysfunctional metabolism of water, i.e., water is not moving. More water is usually called for and possibly a few herbs.
When the flight attendant comes around with the drink cart, choose water. Those alcoholic and high-caffeine drinks are not really suitable, because they can have a negative effect on your hydration status. Here’s a strategy: bring a plastic water bottle and drink it before you go through security, refill the bottle at the water fountain, and drink that before you get on the plane, then have the flight attendant refill your bottle on the plane. Experts recommend eight ounces of water for every hour in the air. That should give you good cause for a trip to the lavatory, and a bit of moving around.
Cold Snap is essential for another airplane challenge because you are breathing re-circulated air and mingling with other passenger’s germs. Stomach Chi also offers a more natural way to combat motion sickness, because it doesn’t have any of the drowsy side effects of Dramamine. Begin this regimen several days before a trip. Travel can be stressful and pre-travel becomes an important time to strengthen your system. If you are making an international trip, the herbs become even more important because of the length of the flight and the unfamiliar food and water you will encounter on the other end of your adventure.
This is a re-post from September 28, 2006 at 4:28 PM