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dampness in TCM

"Dampness" - the Root Cause of Arthritis, Poor Digestion, and Fatigue

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In Chinese Medicine, dampness is one of the 6 types of “Evil Qi.

Damp is usually a side-effect of a Deficiency of Qi or Yang, plus exposure to damp elements.  Signs of dampness can include mucous (runny nose, phlegm, vaginal discharge), a swollen tongue, weight gain, fatigue, water retention, lack of appetite, or bloating.  You may also notice mental fog or joint pain.  The symptoms will get worse with rainy or damp/humid weather.   


If you live in a humid environment, or work out a lot, make sure to change out of sweaty clothes as soon as possible!  Never sit around in a wet swimsuit or damp clothes — especially undergarments.

Certain foods bring on the damp as well.  Anything that’s sweet — juices, sugary candy, soda, and even refined grain products like crackers, pretzels, and bread will amplify dampness.  Dairy, especially ultra-pasteurized milk, cheese, and yogurt is very damp. 

Too much worrying, or just over-thinking in general ("student syndrome" we call it), makes you more prone to damp, which is thought of as a "Spleen" imbalance in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  


Some foods help to reduce damp.  Try eating more bitter foods like leafy green vegetables (kale, mustard greens, dandelion greens, parsley), and celery.  Also, citrus peels are bitter, so oranges eaten with the white inner peel, or lemon/orange peel zest added to meat dishes can help reduce dampness.   Turnips, radish, kohlrabi, asparagus, and broccoli are great as well. 

Foods that are high in fiber help eliminate damp.  Include whole grains like quinoa, brown or wild rice, and pearl barley (also called Job’s tears) in your diet.  I would stay away from wheat products, which tend to promote dampness, even the whole wheat varieties.

Also, just to clarify, drinking water does NOT make you damp.  Drinking enough pure water for your body’s needs will help you be in balance, so please keep doing that.   

Exercise also helps your body remove dampness.  Get out there and move! 

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