Health Intuitive

Dampness And Heat In Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, two of the six damaging factors that have opposite effects on the body are dampness and heat. While dampness leads to stagnation, heat causes increased activity to a body system. Both these factors have their own batch of syndromes associated with their effects.


By nature, dampness moistens everything that comes in contact with it, (especially the ground) causing stagnation. Once an object becomes damp, it may take a long while for it to dry once again, particularly in wet weather. Dampness leads to yin pathogenic effects that are difficult to resolve because they are heavy and persistent. An individual who sleeps on the ground, resides in a damp environment, or spends a lot of time in the rain will likely be vulnerable to external dampness.

Likewise, an individual who consumes large amounts of sweets, greasy foods, cold drinks and foods, or ice cream is susceptible to imbalances of internal dampness. There are both intangible and tangible aspects of dampness. Intangible dampness consists of the subjective feelings of dizziness and heaviness of a person. Tangible dampness, on the other hand consists of discharges, fluid retention (edema), and phlegm. A greasy tongue fur and slippery pulse oftentimes accompany both forms of dampness. Dampness signs and symptoms in the body basically include skin rashes that are crusty and ooze (as in eczema), vomiting or coughing phlegm, feelings of heaviness, swelling, and water retention (edema).

Being heavy, dampness tends to go downward and affect the lower regions of the body. Thus, an individual with dampness usually experiences swelling of the legs and a sensation of heaviness or sinking. These qualities are contrast of wind qualities that tends to affect the body’s upper regions. When combined with heat, dampness leads to a condition known as damp heat that manifests in symptoms such as jaundice, yellowish discharges in the vagina, malodorous sticky stools, and dark burning urine.

Syndromes of Dampness

1. Internal Dampness: This pattern is usually the result of a spleen imbalance. Signs and symptoms of internal dampness include possible water retention in the stomach area, fatigue, undigested food in the stools, poor appetite, diarrhea, and bloating. A cold spleen generates dampness as gleaned when an individual coughs up phlegm right after eating ice cream. Since the lungs stores excessive dampness in the spleen, a spleen that is damp usually leads to frequent allergies and colds in the person. The goal of internal dampness therapy is to stimulate the spleen with tonifying herbs and expel the dampness with diuretic herbs.

2. Toxins and Damp on the Skin: This pattern includes skin inflammations that have a damp weepy nature such as skin ulcers, eczema, and allergic reactions that create a discharge (crusty or oozing skin eruptions). This syndrome is treated internally with herbs that can be in the form of topical poultices.

3. Wind Damp Joint Pain: This syndrome is marked by numbness and heavy and dull stubborn pain in certain joints. A good example of this syndrome is rheumatic pain that exacerbates in damp weather. Wind damp joint pain is likely to be resistant to treatment and is chronic. Moxibustion and acupuncture treatment can alleviate the pain and stiffness in Miami. Following the Chinese principle of using, “tree limbs to treat body limbs,” herbs to eliminate wind damp like qui shi (cinnamon twigs) and sang shi (mulberry branches) are utilized to boost circulation and reduce swelling.

4. Wind Damp: This syndrome is the cause of the common cold and is marked by diarrhea, nausea, afternoon fever, headache, and chills. The description a person may feel from this condition is as if a wet towel is wrapped around his head. Aromatic herbs and moxibustion are the treatments used to drain dampness and ward off wind.


Heat (fire) is a yang energy quality that has a damaging effect on the body. Heat by nature, causes increased activity and expansion. Heat that is out of balance can cause inflammatory conditions, fever, and irritability. By nature, heat tends to rise and can manifest in the body as dizziness, sore throat, and red eyes and face. Anger may be experienced when heat affects the liver or heart. This yang energy pathogenic factor has a tendency to affect the body fluids, resulting in dark urine, constipation, and thirst. Heat can cause spasms since it can generate wind.

Syndromes of Heat/Wind-Heat

Heat/Wind-Heat is a commonly occurring syndrome appearing usually as the flu and the common cold. Heat and wind combined creates signs and symptoms such as a red tip on the tongue, racing pulse, perspiration, headache, thirst, sore throat, and fever. The plan of treatment is to use herbal remedies and acupuncture to expel the heat and ward off the wind.

1. Deficient Heat: This imbalance is the result of a deficient yin. Yin is the cooling feature of an organ and a deficient yin cause uncontrolled heat allowing it to blaze up. Basically, the symptoms of deficient heat include a racing and thin pulse, red tongue with no fur, chronic inflammation, irritability, night sweats, and red cheeks. Additional symptoms may appear based on the organ affected. When deficient heat arises in the kidneys, chronic UTIs (urinary tract infections) can arise; lungs affected by heat deficiency due to cigarette smoking can lead to chronic dry cough; and the heat from deficient heart yin can lead to insomnia.

2. Excess Heat in the Organs: This imbalance typically causes symptoms such as a racing and full pulse, red tongue with yellow fur, constipation, concentrated (burning or dark) urine, dry throat, thirst, and irritability. Additional symptoms may appear based on the organ affected. For example, lung fire can lead to a buildup of yellow mucus in the lungs, extreme anger may be stirred up by liver fire, fire in the abdomen can cause mouth ulcers, and heart fire can cause extreme emotional disturbances. Treatment for all instances is to manipulate the acupuncture points associated with the affected organ and to use herbs to expel the excess heat.

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