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  • Writer's pictureJackie Koenig, L.Ac.

So Your Acupuncturist Says You Have Dampness....

Let's explore what damp accumulation is and how to help your body resolve it!

a window foggy with condensation and a hand print in the middle of it

What IS dampness anyway?

Dampness is understood as an excess accumulation of phlegm, mucus, or fluid in the body.

You may experience symptoms like:

  • Lack of appetite

  • Congestion of nasal passages, clogged ears, sinus infections

  • Discharges (eye, nasal, vaginal, weepy lesions...)

  • Heavy, achy feeling in the muscles and joints, as if walking through cement

  • Difficulty getting up out of bed in the morning

  • Eczema

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Bloating or a heavy feeling after meals, feeling tired after meals

  • Obesity or fluid retention

  • Sticky taste in mouth

  • A mind that tends to ruminate, obsess, and have a hard time letting go of things

Often this pattern is seen in those who live in a humid environment (lookin' at you, New Orleans!), people with office jobs or long commutes to work who may lead a more sedentary lifestyle, people who overeat, eat quickly, eat dinner very late in the day, or often eat processed, convenient meals on-the-go. Additional risk factors include extended use of antibiotics or years using birth control pills and those who have a history of smoking, alcohol, or substance abuse. Dampness feels swampy and "gunky" in mind, body, and spirit.

Your Western doctor might want to prescribe medications that cover up the symptoms like antihistamines, antifungals, or antacid medication, but these medicines are just treating the symptoms and not the root of why the mucus and heaviness is there in the first place. From our perspective, it is necessary to treat both the "branches" and the "root" of dampness in order to heal with long-lasting effects!

How can I clear a damp accumulation?

  • Eat more foods that resolve dampness (see below!)

  • Avoid foods that create dampness (see below!)

  • Regular eating is necessary- skipping meals or fasting often makes the problem worse over time

  • Eating smaller meals and giving your body time and room to process them

  • Minimize drinking liquids while eating (a small glass can be ok)

  • Sweating, exercise, cupping, and regular stretching can help clear damp lodged in the muscles

  • Avoid eating excessive amounts of raw or cold foods (see more in our post on how to feed your body well according to Chinese Medicine!)

What foods can help dry dampness?

Dietary changes are a great place to start alleviating these symptoms.

In general, foods that are bitter, aromatic, and low in fat help resolve dampness, like:

  • Garlic, radish, turnip

  • Zest of citrus peels like lemon, grapefruit, tangerine

  • Cranberry, pear

  • Corn, celery, button mushroom, vegetable sprouts

  • Job's Tears, lentils, basmati rice

  • Eel, tuna

  • Spices: horseradish, anise seed, parsley, mustard seed, thyme, tamarind

  • Tea: green tea, raspberry leaf tea, jasmine tea, peppermint tea, barley tea

  • Seeds in moderation: pumpkin, sunflower, walnut, almonds

What damp foods should I avoid?

  • Dairy, especially cheese and milk

  • Fatty meats

  • Fried foods

  • Peanut butter

  • Banana

  • Sugar, sweeteners

  • Fruit juices, especially tomato, orange, other concentrates

  • Alcohol

What other supplements and recommendations can help improve damp accumulation?

  • Acupuncture can help resolve dampness by supporting the digestive system and promoting a movement of qi and blood which can help move the stagnant dampness as well.

  • Cupping is a great way to release dampness from the muscle layer and can promote further detoxification, reduce swelling and pain, and help with blood and qi circulation. Be sure to make an appointment with someone who has been trained in safe and effective cupping techniques.

  • Many Chinese herbal formulas are excellent at drying dampness, including Bi Yan Pian, Cang Er Zi San, Jia Wei Ping Wei Fan, and Jia Wei Kang Ning Wan. Make an appointment with a licensed Chinese Herbalist in order to find out which formula might work best for you!

  • Daily massage on your sinuses and around your ears for congealed dampness in the face can help it move out. Here's a great video with massage therapist, Rachel Richards, walking you through it. You can also use a gua sha tool for this!

When can I expect to feel better?

Dampness takes a long time to form and therefore takes a long time to clear. It is important to be consistent with your dietary changes and exercise routines. It may take several weeks to feel a drastic difference. Results may come faster when paired with herbal formulas and acupuncture.

If you're in the New Orleans area, book a treatment at Hidden Root Acupuncture for more personalized recommendations from your acupuncturist along your journey towards a dampness-free body!

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