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What is 'Damp' in Chinese Medicine?

Updated: 5 days ago

Unlike Western Medicine, Chinese Medicine looks at the whole body to establish the cause of symptoms. One common diagnosis is Damp.

‘Damp’ in TCM is an overarching term used to describe any health issue which causes things to become sluggish. Damp often arises as a result of a sluggish digestive system (Spleen and Stomach), external damp weather or a poor diet. These create excess Yin in the body. Symptoms include water retention, headaches, pain in the limbs, candida, digestive issues and even depression. Damp can also combine with Cold, Heat or Wind to create other symptoms. One quick way to check if your body may have Damp is to look at your tongue first thing in the morning; a thick white coat and a pale tongue is one of the symptoms of Damp, but it is advisable to have a consultation with an acupuncturist to confirm.

Damp can congeal and become Phlegm. Phlegm in TCM, as with Damp, includes a range of health issues including mucus, cysts and nodules.

How to eliminate and prevent Damp from forming

Changing your diet to exclude Damp forming foods as well as ensuring you include some exercise will go a long way to helping get rid of Damp. This, in turn, enables the organs to function optimally in order to ensure fluids, Qi and Blood flow smoothly throughout the body.

Foods to avoid are:


Cut out sugar (sorry no more desserts or sweet snacks!)

Bread and wheat products which are made from white flour.

Raw food (including salads) should be eliminated for two weeks. Instead, steam vegetables.

Avoid alcohol which is high in sugar.

Fatty foods- The liver produces bile which is needed to digest fats. By eating too many fatty foods we increase the workload for both the Liver and Gallbladder.

Processed foods (these often contain lots of sugar and/or unhealthy fats).

Fruits and vegetables which are out of season (think bananas, strawberries and mangoes in winter!)

Foods to include

Jobs tears (a grain, which is recommended specifically to clear damp)


Brown rice

Cooked vegetables (steamed or sauteed)

Broth (vegetable/meat - depending on your diet)


Dandelion (avoid if you have low blood pressure)


Ginger & turmeric (avoid if you are prone to feeling hot or very thirsty)


Strenuous exercise isn’t needed as, according to Chinese Medicine, everything must be in moderation. Strenuous exercise often results in profuse sweating which means that body fluids are lost. The aim should be to do something every day if possible e.g. a walk in nature, a short, brisk walk to the shops, a yoga/Tai Chi/Qi Gong/Pilates class that you enjoy. Movement helps to move Qi which circulates Blood (Xue) and fluids (Jin ye).

If you would like acupuncture to support your health and well being then please get in touch.

I would love to hear about recipes you use to help detoxify or heal these organs. Pop them into the comments box. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram: @yasminhodgeacupuncture

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