AOMA President interviewed…
AOMA President interviewed about Texas heat
Radar-watching and drought-inspired daydreams
Submitted by Mark Haslett on Thu, 07/07/2011 - 8:15pm
Amarillo Globe News
The Texas Panhandle appears to have concluded its impersonation of the Gobi Desert. After an infernal June, marked by record-high temperatures and bone-dry conditions, July has brought more usual weather. It’s still hotter than normal, but the blessed summer thunderstorms have returned.
Weather nerds like me enjoy viewing the radar on the National Weather Service website. The first weeks of summer made for some maddening radar-watching, as thunderclouds swept around the periphery of the map, but avoided Amarillo as if repelled by a force field. Storms dumped rain on places like Clayton, N.M., and Beaver, Okla., while the heart of the Texas Panhandle remained dry as gypsum-dust. When you’re envious of Eastern New Mexico’s precipitation numbers, you’ve reached a pretty bad place.
The High Plains region has a semi-arid climate, similar to that of the Asian steppes that stretch from Kazakhstan to Northern China. Traditional culture in China incorporates an awareness of climate and weather into its understanding of human health and behavior. External conditions such as dryness, dampness, heat and cold affect the body, thus affecting the whole person.
Chinese medicine confirms what we know intuitively here in the Texas Panhandle: Too much heat and drought can drive people a little crazy.
"What happens with an excess of heat is that people become agitated, restless and irritable," said Dr. Will Morris, President of AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, an Austin school that offers a masters-level graduate program in acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
"The effects of excess dryness are less visible than those of excess heat, but too much dryness tends to make people lethargic and withdrawn," Morris said.
So don’t feel bad if you spent much of June feeling cranky, unsettled and wanting to retreat from the outside world. A dry-heat excess will do that sort of thing.
To restore balance, we can borrow a recipe from the sunny steppes of Northern China, where scented teas such as jasmine tea are popular. Tea made from chrysanthemum or honeysuckle helps the body handle heat, Morris said. Similarly, excess dryness can be balanced with teas made from licorice and marshmallow. Chilled fruits such as watermelons and pears can help, too, according to Morris.
My grandparents, who likely never heard of Chinese medicine and perhaps would not have been very interested, enjoyed tossing a couple of spearmint leaves into their iced tea during the summer months. They always kept a few mint plants in their backyard garden in Grand Prairie. The spearmint flourished in the moist, blackland-prairie soil.
My grandfather liked to chew on the leaves while he worked outside. Sometimes, when I see a sprig of mint in a glass of tea or lemonade, I think of him, and I can see him in his blue Sears work shirt and straw Stetson, chewing on a mint leaf, placidly hoeing at stray runners of St. Augustine grass. He was a Southern Baptist, but the serenity he radiated during such moments, in retrospect, seems Taoist or Confucian.
In contrast, I possess neither the wisdom of Chinese physicians nor the patience of my grandparents. I glare at the weather-service radar on my computer screen and hope that through force of will, I can compel the clusters of green-and-gold pixels representing rainclouds to move down to Amarillo. As I write this, I’m watching a storm system pass over Bent County, Colorado. For all the good that does us here, it may as well be in China.
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