Health Intuitive

The Effect of Dampness on Digestive fire

Phlegm and dampness are build ups that occur in the body that may make us feel so tired and heavy. We’re likely to become stagnant with phlegm and damp when the weather is exceedingly humid and damp, our mind is working too long and too much, or when our diet is out of sync with our body.

Compared to phlegm, dampness is usually seen as heavier and thicker in viscosity although it may not be so obvious in physical signs. It can manifest in the coating of the tongue and is sensed in the fogginess of thinking and heaviness of the body.

Phlegm can manifest itself as a wet kind of cough or in a runny nose.

Symptoms related to Phlegm and Dampness

  • Postulant-wet skin conditions
  • Leucorrhoea
  • Poor concentration
  • Loose stool
  • Low energy, particularly after eating
  • Problem waking up in the morning
  • Weak memory
  • Foggy head

Signs related to Phlegm and Dampness

  • Slippery pulse
  • Runny nose, particularly after eating dairy or greasy food
  • White coating on the tongue
  • Swollen tongue with teeth marks

Dampness can be seen as a swelling of the tongue and a thick tongue coating. Occasionally, the tongue’s coating is white and very thick, particularly in individuals that eat too much dairy products such as milk and yogurt. The coating of their tongue is so thick that they often scrape it! This merely takes out one of the signs but it does not address the underlying cause of the problem, which is damp.

A build up of phlegm and damp occurs due to a few different reasons. Initially, we can divide the causes into two categories: External and Internal.

A build up of external phlegm/damp may be caused by:

1. Two weeks between each change of season, more so at summer’s end that’s deemed the ‘damp’ time of the year or ‘late summer’, which is the time one expects dampness to accumulate.
2. Tropical weather and a humid environment. For long periods of time of time on a hot day when the air-conditioner is blasting on you.

A build up of internal phlegm/damp may be caused by:

1. Poor diet: eating lots of rich, raw, cold, sweet, fatty, oily, greasy, and dairy foods.
2. Stress/overthinking: This can result in spleen qi deficiency (weak digestive energy) that can’t handle all the damp foods being eaten that results in a sluggish digestion.

One of underlying principles of Chinese medicine is the theory of the Five Elements: Wood, Water, Metal, Earth, and Fire.

Each element has a specific function, emotion, organ, and season associated with it. In the case of dampness, the element closely related to it is earth. The earth element is associated the stomach and spleen organs in the season of late summer.

The stomach and spleen are responsible for the conversion of water and food to energy and waste. Sometimes, however, because of a rich diet (for example), these organs become exhausted and have difficulty in converting things efficiently, there is left in the body excess unconverted food material that can’t be efficiently disposed of. This material eventually turns into dampness. According to Chinese medicine, when the dampness flows over from the earth element, the metal element, which is the large intestine and lungs, contains it. This is why when we drink a milk shake or eat greasy chips and fish, we sometimes get diarrhea, cough, or a runny nose.

Dampness is heavy and tends to go down and drain out. At times, it becomes sluggish and gets blocked preventing it to go down and drain. To eliminate damp, we first need to lessen the intake of foods that are contributing to the condition. Next, we need to use acupuncture and medicinal herbs to either excrete the damp through the stool or drain it through urination or open the skin pores in order for the damp to escape through sweat. Then, to strengthen digestion, we need to be treated with acupuncture and herbs, as well exercise and eat a bland diet.

Energy and Matter

Chinese medicine can be clearly explained through basic physics principles particularly when we are talking about a thing called ‘digestive fire’.

Water and fire are two of nature’s most fundamental aspects. These elements can be referred to as matter (water) and energy (fire). All things are forms of energy and matter. Energy is a nonmaterial and dispersed entity that has highly vibrating protons and electrons. On the other hand, matter is a more condensed entity that has a vibrational frequency lower than energy.

Energy and matter can be interchanged; this implies that nature and life are always changing and moving. All beings are composed of matter and all of us are driven by love, will, emotion, and passion. We all are made up of matter (water) and are driven by energy (fire). The energy that we have comes from the physical things we take in our body: water, air, and food.

What weakens our digestive fire?

We need dry and light wood to easily kindle and make a good fire. When we use green sticks to make a fire, it only produces a dull fire and produces a lot of smoke. Likewise, we’re likely to completely kill the fire if we put a log of wet wood on it.
Light dry foods are good for the stomach and spleen. If you already suffer from a weak digestion, eating dense, raw, greasy, oily, or heavy foods will only weaken it further. This is like throwing a heavy wet big heavy log on a small fire that kills the fire completely.

To kindle digestive fire, we start by eating start not overly processed, well-cooked, and easily digestible foods and grains.

Foods to Restore Digestive Fire and Lessen Dampness

  • Herbs/Spices: Foods that help warm digestion include pepper, cumin, paprika, fennel, cinnamon, and cardamom. Congee mixed with lots of ginger is an ideal way to warm digestive fire.
  • Protein/Meat: Small portions of chicken, lamb, or beef stewed or slow cooked can drain dampness and are very nutritious.
  • Veggies: Leafy greens, alfalfa, turnip, pumpkin, celery, and beans.
  • Cooked whole grains: Corn, amaranth, buckwheat, pearl barley, quinoa, millet, rye, barley, oats, and rice

Factors That Weaken Digestive Fire and Raise Dampness and Therefore Should Be Avoided

  • Processed foods, dairy, lassies, iced water, smoothies, ice cream, chocolate, eggs, soy milk (soy is 50 percent oils and fats), tofu, bananas, avocados, wheat grass, salads, duck, pork, and pastries.
  • Salad or raw food diet – This type of food is good for a red faced, very hot person with a strong constitution. It is not recommended for a person who is pale and skinny.
  • Not chewing properly
  • Eating late at night
  • Eating too much sushi, salad, cold foods, juices, sprouts, vegetables, and raw fruits
  • Eating too much oily, sweet, cold, raw or mucus-forming foods

Vita-Health Acupuncture and Wellness Center
12301 Taft St #200
Pembroke Pines, FL 33026
Phone: (954) 880-0090

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