What is Dampness?

You may have heard your Chinese medicine practitioner talk about “damp” conditions. What does this mean, and what are the symptoms of damp in the body? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, people with damp in the body may have loss of appetite, heavy and tired limbs, cold hands and feet, greasy and oily skin, sticky stool, and/or nausea.  Gastroenteritis can also be caused by damp, and it is often easy for those with damp in the body to get sick and gain weight. So how can we remove damp from our bodies?

1.Fire cupping 

Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy commonly used in treating many diseases. This therapy can be used to: remove cold and dampness, open the meridians, eliminate stasis, help promote qi and blood circulation, reduce swelling and pain, promote detoxification, bring balance to yin and yang, relieve fatigue, and enhance the body's function.

2.Acupuncture and Moxabustion

The role of acupuncture is to clear and open the body's meridians. It can help move the blood and qi in the meridians and help the body clear toxins. Acupuncture can help us eliminate the dampness in the body by helping promote circulation as well as supporting the body’s digestion center (spleen and stomach in Chinese medicine). The heat from moxabustion can also help to dry damp.  Acupuncture is one of the best choices for maintaining your health without side effects.

3.Foods and Teas

In Chinese medicine there are many foods and herbs that can help to drain dampness from the body and support the spleen. When the spleen is weak, dampness can easily form.  Some of these foods include:  asparagus, barley, red beans, oat, brown rice, carrot, and green tea.

4.Sports and exercise

Many people who suffer from heavy dampness in the body lack exercise. Some may feel heavy and weak most of the time with low energy and find it difficult to exercise and move the body. However, lack of movement or exercise can easily accumulate more dampness over time.

Exercise can relieve stress, promote the body organs to operate properly, and accelerate the removal of dampness from the body. Running, walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi and other sports will help activate blood circulation, and increase water metabolism. 


In daily life it is better to avoid excessively humid environments. Some tips especially for those who are sensitive to dampness:

  1. Water intake should be appropriate, avoid ice cold drinks and foods, rich greasy and sweet food, and alcohol 
  2. Avoid going out in rainy days if possible. If you must, wear appropriate clothing to stay dry and warm.  Do not wear wet clothes for long periods of time, and dry your hair immediately after showering. 
  3. Eat more onions, ginger, garlic and other aromatic spices 
  4. Visit a low heat sauna to gently promote a light sweat. High temperature saunas which encourage heavy sweating can be damaging to the body’s yin.
Noah Frohlich