Dampness is a term that an acupuncturist may use to describe your symptoms. But what does it mean and how can it be resolved?
Dampness: what is it?
Some conditions (Dampness being one) in Chinese medicine have somewhat metaphorical or even literal descriptions.
Remember there were no blood tests, scans, X-rays, microscopes to help shed any light on the matter. Nevertheless, the Chinese doctors did a pretty impressive job of understanding how the body works and how to treat it when it goes wrong.
Dampness in TCM refers to the accumulation of fluid, mucus or phlegm in the body. As it name suggests, it’s nature is heavy, sticky and obstructive.
Some of the common signs of Dampness include:
- a feeling of heaviness/tiredness/aching in the limbs and muscles
- lethargy/lack of motivation/feeling glum
- painful/swollen joints
- muzzy head
- feeling of fullness after eating or poor appetite
- bloating/discomfort after eating
- loose stools
- cloudy urine
- greasy sweat
- sinuses/mucus in throat/runny nose
- sticky tongue coating
- sticky discharges
Some of the most stubborn western ailments including eczema, asthma, thrush, candida, fungal infections, arthritis, allergies and being overweight frequently involve patterns of Dampness.
How do we become Damp?
Dampness, as TCM describes it, is a result of the bodies failure to transport and transform fluid. In the western sense, Dampness is due to an underperforming lymph system.
- sedentary lifestyle
- overeating or over representation of “damp-forming” foods
- eating in a rush
- drinking too much water with meals
- combining foods that tend to ferment together
- processed food
- some infections are Damp in nature e.g. gastroenteritis
- some medications e.g. antibiotics, steroid creams
- living or working in a Damp environment
The manifestations of Damp can vary widely according to which part of the body is affected.
So, which foods are classed as “Dampening”
- sugar and sweeteners
- dairy (sheep and goats produce to a lesser extent)
- pork and rich meats
- fatty/fried food
- concentrated juices
- too much fruit
- hydrogenated fats (margarine)
Approaches to clearing dampness
Dampness is viewed as being stuck or stagnant in our bodies e.g. swollen ankles
To shift Dampness requires exercise and movement. Stretching muscles can help too.
With regard to food, regular eating is regarded as a good place to start. Try not to eat a heavy meal last thing at night and try to cut down on the foods listed above.
Foods that are considered to have a “drying and draining” effect can be introduced into the diet:
- aduki beans
- broad beans
- butternut squash
- corn on the cob
- kidney beans
- sweet potato
- green tea
Instantly, you can see that these are foods with which some great simple meals can be made or slightly adapted.
Include aduki and broad beans in a chilli. Use celery, sweet potato and butternut squash in a casserole, sweet potato chips – simples!
How Does Acupuncture Help?
Acupuncture can help us eliminate the Dampness in the body by helping promote circulation as well as supporting the body’s digestion centre (Spleen and Stomach in Chinese medicine).
Moxa may also be used and the heat from this can help to “dry” Dampness.
Are you struggling with any of the symptoms discussed – tiredness, sluggishness, weight gain?
You might not have considered acupuncture before but it is a guaranteed safe treatment with no side effects. Acupuncture treatment usually comes with the added bonus of nutritional advice too.
I recommend that you use an acupuncturist that is registered with The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) because members of the BAcC are guaranteed to have completed full training to degree level and will be covered by most private health insurers.
I would always take a good look at your diet and offer nutritional advice in conjunction with acupuncture treatment.
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