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What Is Damp Heat in TCM & How Do You Know If You Have It?

If you’re curious what Damp-Heat is, just spend the month of August without air conditioning anywhere in the Deep South of the USA. Not to ruin your summer vacation, but the combination of Damp and Heat, 2 of the 6 evils (disease patterns) of TCM is more prevalent this time of year. And that can be a big problem if left untreated because it can lead to serious health concerns. 

What Is Damp Heat in TCM? 

How do you feel when the weather is hot, sticky and humid? Miserable, most likely. And lethargic. Heavy. Torpid. But it’s not the heat that’s the problem. It’s more the Damp. After all, if you’ve ever spent time in a sauna, you know how therapeutic it feels. 

When Dampness invades the body, nothing seems to help. We can’t just sweat it out. It’s just too hot and sticky for sweat to cool the body. The Heat added to Damp is like pouring fuel on the proverbial fire. 

So what does all this talk of the summertime weather have to do with traditional Chinese medicine? The problem with Damp-Heat is that it can invade the body and cause several different symptoms, depending on a few different factors: how deeply this pattern has penetrated into the body and which meridian system or energetic organ systems it has affected.

What Causes Damp Heat?

There are other things that can cause a Damp Heat invasion besides the hot, sticky summertime weather that can wear down your immune or digestive system. For instance, eating a diet that includes a lot of added sugars, cold desserts like ice cream and cold beverages (especially beer) makes the Spleen organ system susceptible to an accumulation of Damp Heat. 

When Dampness invades the body, nothing seems to help. We can’t just sweat it out.

In addition, being too sedentary, not sleeping enough, working too hard, poor air quality, and even having a bad attitude can create Damp-Heat accumulation, according to TCM. Yes, that’s right, waking up on the wrong side of the bed, not letting go of anger and just being a grouch in general can cause Damp Heat in the Liver channel. 

As if Damp Heat isn’t scary enough, the condition can give rise to excessive Phlegm. In the west, we think of phlegm as something we cough up when we have a cold. But that’s only one tiny manifestation of it. 

In TCM theory, the Spleen organ is like the food processor of the body, helping break down food. If Damp Heat invades the body, the Spleen creates Phlegm. The reason we cough up phlegm is because the Lung organ system is the reservoir of Phlegm accumulation. 

How Do You Know If You It?

There are many tell-tale signs of a Damp Heat invasion. And as mentioned, the manifestations depend upon the organs, channels and level of the deepness of the penetration of the invasion. 

Besides some of the most obvious signs such as fever, Damp Heat syndrome symptoms include (the system affected is listed first): 

  • Spleen: Abdominal distention
  • Lung: Coughing
  • Urinary Bladder: Frequent or difficult/incomplete urination; excessive vaginal discharge; water retention
  • Liver: Itchy, puffy eyes
  • Wei Qi (the first level of defense against pathogens): colds 
  • Large Intestine: Acne 

How Do You Get Rid Of Damp-Heat? 

The best way to eliminate it is to prevent Damp Heat from accumulating in the first place. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That means eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables this time of year, watching your intake of typical cold and sugary summertime treats, staying hydrated and cool and managing your stress. 

But if your body is feeling heavy or you have one of the classic symptoms of Damp-Heat, then consider a classic Chinese herbal formula called Si Miao Piah, which’s Guang Ci Tang line is trademarked as Dampclear.

Keep calm and cool and carry on!

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