What is humidity?
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in air. It is usually described as “relative humidity” and expressed in percentage. 100% humidity means the water vapor in the air is at its maximum at that particular temperature.
When humidity is low (amount of water vapour is less in air), the evaporation from the surrounding areas is rapid. Hence the clothes dry quickly, soil dries up, sweat evaporates from skin etc.
When humidity is high (amount of water vapour is more in air), clothes dry slowly, sweat do not evaporate from skin and we feel sticky and uncomfortable.
We feel comfortable when humidity is 45-50% and temperature 20 to 22 degree Celsius. Any broad variation in these may cause health problems.
Effects of increased humidity on human body :
Human body maintains its temperature by transferring body heat to surrounding air through evaporation of perspiration (sweat). When humidity is high in air the evaporation of sweat decreases and maintenance of body temperature is altered. Along with high humidity if atmosphere temperature is high, the blood circulation increases on surface of skin and decreases in muscles and other organs. Hence we experience fatigue in climate which is high in temperature and humidity.
Molds, mildews, bacteria, virus, dust mites proliferate when humidity increases in surrounding air. They grow on air conditioners, shower heads, damp walls, toilets , wet carpets and on other moist substances. Their spores which are called bioaerosoles, are constantly released into air. Bioaerosoles cause infection and allergies. They trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases.
Researchers have found that osteo -arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis flare up in high humid weather.
According to Ayurvedic texts the humidity increases during rainy season. The agni (body fire or digestive power) which is reduced during summer, decreases still further and gets vitiated by doshas. Doshas get vitiated due to changes in weather, like increased humidity, coldness, dampness etc.
How to reduce humidity at home
- Repair the source which is causing dampness or wetness at home .Leaking roofs, taps and tanks have to be repaired to prevent leaking.
- Keep the rain drain free from clogs and let the water from rain drain flow away from your basement.
- Switch on exhaust fans or vent fans after bathing and cooking.
- Do not dry clothes inside. This increases humidity inside home.
- Use a digital hygrometer to monitor humidity.
- Use a dehumidifier to bring down the humidity to 50% or less.
Ayurvedic tips to keep healthy in humid conditions:
- One has to undergo detoxification therapies like Vamana and Virechana.
- Asthapana basthi (An enema of herbal decoction) has to be administered to keep away humidity related health problems.
- The digestive system gets weakened due to dehydration in summer. This leads to low digestive power. This is further weakened by vitiation of doshas and dhatus due to increased humidity. Hence following diets which increase power of digestion and strengthen the digestive system would be beneficial.
a. Light foods prepared out of old barley, rice and wheat.
b. Sour and salted soups of vegetables.
c. Drinking boiled and cooled water mixed with little honey.
d. Consuming little quantity of wine prepared out of grapes.
e. Adding ginger and green gram in daily diet.
f. Eating warm food.
g. The taste of food must be preferably sour and salty.
- Do not walk in bare foot. Always wear dry foot wear to prevent growth of fungus on nails and between toes. Dry your feet and webs with soft dry cloth whenever they are wet.
- The clothes should be fumigated using fragrant herbs. Drying clothes with fumes of loban and dry neem leaves is recommended in ayurvedic texts.
- We should not sleep in basement as it will be damp and growth of moulds and fungus will be more.
- Fumigating the house with smoke of dried neem leaves in evenings for 1-2 minutes is an excellent ayurvedic method to check the growth of microbes,
- Always keep the surroundings dry and clean. Do not allow water to get accumulated around.
Ayurvedic Home remedies for Humidity related diseases
- Apply castor oil or sesame oil on cracked feet and skin.
- A freshly prepared paste of turmeric, neem and sesame seeds is recommended in ayurveda for fungal infection between toes.
- Drink a glass of warm water mixed with a tea spoon of honey in empty stomach. This flushes out accumulated toxins.
- Freshly prepared radish juice is the best remedy for cold.
- A pinch each of long pepper powder and rock salt mixed in warm water reduces cough