The Naughty Dampness: TCM Views on Dampness

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This topic is undoubtedly popular in Hong Kong because people here seem to always talk about how heavy the 'dampness' is throughout the year. So, how much do you actually know about 'dampness'?


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), "dampness" refers to a pathological factor or constitutional characteristic that is related to the balance and health of the body. The formation of dampness is often associated with factors such as the environment, diet, lifestyle, and constitution.


The 2 types of dampness

Dampness can be classified into two types: external dampness and internal dampness. External dampness refers to dampness entering the body from the external environment, such as humid weather, high humidity surroundings, or contact with damp substances, leading to the accumulation of internal dampness. Internal dampness, on the other hand, refers to the production of dampness within the body, usually related to poor digestive system function, weak spleen and stomach, improper diet, excessive fatigue, and other factors.


How do I know if I have too much dampness?


Here are some common symptoms and signs of dampness: 


  • heavy and lethargic body, 
  • easy fatigue, 
  • heaviness and soreness in the limbs,
  • joint pain, 
  • edema, 
  • abdominal distension, 
  • poor appetite, 
  • bitter or dry mouth, 
  • thick and greasy tongue coating


If you have more than 3 symptoms, you may have excessive dampness in your body.


Dampness can also interact with other pathological factors, resulting in different manifestations of dampness, such as damp-heat or damp-cold.


How does traditional Chinese medicine deal with dampness?


TCM approaches for treating dampness typically involve adjusting dietary habits, avoiding foods that are dampening, greasy, or cold, which can exacerbate dampness; improving digestive system function to promote the elimination of dampness; engaging in appropriate exercise to enhance constitution and metabolism; and using herbal medicine for dampness resolution, such as herbs that promote diuresis and dampness dispersion. 


Common treatments for dampness:

  • Acupuncture: adjusting and balancing the energy between the spleen, the lung and the kidney for better water transformation and transportation.
  • Cupping: creating an exit on the body to get rid of the dampness
  • Moxibustion: enhancing more warm energy to prevent further accumulation of the dampness


To diagnose dampness requires more TCM knowledge, if those common symptoms of dampness are quite familiar to you, better look for a qualified TCM practitioner to discuss and work on with a suitable treatment plan together.

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