Dampness – How to resolve it…

In traditional Chinese Medicine dampness comes from a failure to burn off or transform moisture in the body. It is nearly always associated with a weak Spleen, often with a weak Kidney and sometimes a weak Lung – all from a Chinese Medicine perspective.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) the Spleen is expressed as the digestive system, the Spleen is responsible for adapting food to nourish and support our system. This process is called ‘transportation and transformation’. The stronger or Spleen function is the better we are able to extract nourishment from any food to support our body’s needs.

Dampness can lodge in a specific part of the body or affect us more generally, dampness can make us feel heavy and tired and it can make us swell up and it can obstruct our body’s functions.

Some people are more prone to damp than others, a tendency towards dampness can be aggravated by living in damp conditions and places (ex. Ireland) or by a sedentary lifestyle. It needs the transformative power of the body’s Yang Qi (energy) to stop it accumulating. Eating in ways which inhibit our Spleen function or which injure the Yang Qi will increase our tendency towards damp.

Dampness may also be caused by pathogens lodged in the body which have not been properly expelled or by the use of suppressant drugs.

Foods which promote dampness are:

  • Dairy – milk, cheese, yogurts, ice cream – Sheep & Goats products are less dampening
  • Wheat – breads, pastry’s, biscuits, all yeast products
  • Pork & rich meat
  • Processed foods, sugar & sweeteners
  • Concentrated juice’s especially Orange & Tomato
  • Beer
  • Bananas – these are a big NO in TCM
  • Saturated fats

In particular foods that need to be avoided are too much raw, cold, sweet & rich foods and the overconsumption of fluid, especially cold water.

yin yang 1
Balancing your diet & lifestyle is the key to wellness in TCM

Dampness can be divided into three kinds:

Dampness

This is the generalised condition of dampness associated with weakness of the Spleen, in may manifest in such ways as tiredness/aches in the limbs, digestive weakness or muzzy head. How it manifests depends on our individual constitution.

Water

This describes a condition of edema where dampness is retained as water; this may be specific or general in location. It causes us to swell, be become waterlogged.

Phlegm

This describes a more sticky manifestation of dampness. It often lodges in particular organs and combines easily with heat or cold. Phlegm or mucus congeals and obstructs our functioning.

Resolving Dampness though food and Acupuncture:

All dampness is treated by strengthening the Spleen and may also need tonification of the Kidneys, Lung and Yang. Phlegm demands the reduction of Phlegm-forming foods and the use of Phlegm- resolving foods. Water is helped by Water-removing (diuretic) foods. Acupuncture in conjunction with the correct foods can help eliminate damp, water and phlegm.

Dampness is often the result of overeating or over-nutrition. It is important to support the Spleen to avoid the over accumulation of Dampness.

Here are some tips on how to assist the Spleen with its digestive function:

  • Joy – enjoy your food, have a good relationship with food
  • Positive attitude – welcome food as wholeheartedly as you can
  • Relaxation – the Chinese believe not to mix food with work, watching TV or reading, also important to relax your posture as not to hinder the passage of food through your body.
  • Chew well – well chewed food lessens the work for your digestive organs and increases the efficient extraction of nutrients, it also warms chilled foods.
  • Stop just before you are full – if you overeat at any one meal, you create stagnation, a temporary queue of food waiting to be processed. This results in feeling tired.
  • Don’t flood the Spleen – the Spleen does not like too much fluid with a meal. A little warm fluid with a meal is helpful; nut too much dilutes the Spleen’s action and weakens digestion.
  • Don’t chill the Spleen – too much raw or chilled food or fluid will also weaken the Spleen, the digestive process needs warmth.
  • Eat your main meal early – when your main meal is eaten late at night, your system is naturally slowing down and the food will sit around longer and creates stagnation.

 

Foods which resolve Dampness

Aduki bean        Caraway             Garlic                    Mackerel                           Pumpkin

Alfalfa                  Cardamon          Green Tea           Marjoram                          Quail

Anchovy             Celery                  Horseradish      Mushroom (button)      Radish

Asparagus         Clove                    Jasmine Tea        Mustard leaf                     Rye

Barley                  Coriander           Kidney bean      Onion                                  Scallion

Basil                     Corn                     Kohlrabi              Oregano                             Turnip

Buckwheat        Daikon                 Lemon                 Parsley                               Umeboshi plums

 

Foods which resolve Water

Aduki bean       Broad bean        Grape                    Pea                                      Seaweed

Alfalfa                  Celery                   Kelp                       Plantain                              Squash

Anchovy             Clam                     Kidney bean       Plum                                    Tea

Barley                  Fenugreek          Lettuce                 Raspberry leaf                  Watercress

Basil                      Corn                     Mackerel             Rice                                      Water Chestnut

Black Soybean  Duck                     Mungbean          Sardine

 

Foods which resolve Phlegm

Almond               Grapefruit                          Mustard seed    Peppermint       Tea

Apple peel          Lemon peel                       Olive                     Plantain               Thyme

Black pepper     Liquorice                            Onion                   Radish                  Walnut

Celery                  Marjoram                           Orange peel       Seaweed              Watercress

Clam                     Mushroom (button)      Pear                      Shiitake

Garlic                    Mustard leaf                     Pepper                 Shrimp

 

If you would like any further recommendations or advice regarding Chinese food therapy and Acupuncture please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

Reference

Helping Ourselves – A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics – Daverick Leggett

 

 

 

 

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