A Common Contributing Factor of Illness (and How To Prevent It)

If you’ve been to my clinic, the likelihood is that you’ve heard me talk about ‘Dampness.’ Most of the ailments I treat have a root or at least an element of Dampness due to the good old British weather, but mainly, Dampness stems from a poor diet and lifestyle choices.


Dampness is dangerous because it is a heavy substance and lingers in the body, blocking the normal flow of Qi and Blood. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Dampness is considered to be the cause or contributing factor of many illnesses such as high cholesterol, cancer, metabolic disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, MS, fibromyalgia, eczema, allergies and environmental illness. Unless treated and when it’s really bad, it can cause serious mental health disturbances too. Diseases like schizophrenia and depression stem from an accumulation of Dampness that travels upwards via the meridians (channels in the body), especially if there is Liver Yang Rising from a Liver Yin deficiency. The Yang that raises upwards out of control carries the Dampness. (Anger outbursts are a sign of Liver Fire and Liver Yang Rising, just a side note).


There is a saying in TCM: “The Earth element creates Damp and the Metal element stores it.” The


organs associated with the Earth element are the Stomach and Spleen. The organs associated with the Metal element are the Lungs and Large Intestine, which is why most of us present with breathing difficulties, colds and coughs with phlegm, diarrhoea or constipation when dampness has taken root. If our Intestines and Stomach are not working properly, our ability to eliminate Dampness is also compromised, hence why our diet and gut health are so fundamental to our overall wellness.


Signs and symptoms of Dampness:


  • heaviness of the body

  • lack of energy

  • achy joints and limbs

  • headaches

  • many digestive issues, loose stools or constipation

  • sluggishness and depression

  • skin conditions such as oily complexion, eczema and acne

  • obesity/difficulty losing weight

  • swelling/water retention (oedema) in the legs

  • urine and yeast infections


How to help prevent formation of Dampness, or help in the recovery from Dampness


Lifestyle: regular moderate exercise. Once dampness sets in and the body feels heavy and weak and energy is at a low, it’s difficult to start or maintain physical exercise, so prevention is better than cure. Movement helps with essential circulation, keeps Qi and blood moving, improves digestion, reduces inflammation in the joints and can provide a big mental health boost.


Diet: what to avoid and what to consume. Avoid greasy or heavily processed food (general rule for life!). Avoid foods with a soft and sticky texture; like cheese and bananas. Avoid iced


beverages and reduce or eliminate alcohol, dairy and wheat. Reach for lightly cooked vegetables,


kidney beans and red lentils, roasted meat and poultry (and bone broth), whole grains, sesame and sunflower seeds, and drink green or ginger tea. Use onions, ginger, garlic and other aromatic spices in your cooking to encourage the movement of digestive Qi.


Holistic healing: cupping therapy is known to open up the meridians (energy channels) in the body and eliminate stasis. By increasing Qi and blood circulation, cupping can reduce swelling,


inflammation and pain.


Acupuncture generally, is designed to restore and maintain the balance that we’re all looking for,


and as such can be an excellent preventative measure. Promoting the free flow of Qi and Blood and encouraging the body to effectively process food and naturally discharge toxins, acupuncture can keep our bodies functioning at an optimum level. Acupuncture can target specific organs, functions, systems and meridians within the body to focus on overcoming a health concern in that particular area. In the treatment of Dampness and the illnesses resulting from it, we can support the Spleen (perhaps Spleen 9) and Stomach (often Stomach 36), to kick start the digestive system and gradually stabilise these Earth elements (where Dampness is created).



Dampness can start slowly and creep in with gradually worsening symptoms, which means it can also take a long time to rid the sufferer entirely. Western Medicine, as always, may be able to offer medication or treatment for each symptom as they occur, without ever recognising the underlying root cause that connects them. This atomistic approach is quite standard in Western Medicine, in this case worsened by the fact that Dampness as a concept is not widely understood outside of TCM.


At AGHW, a holistic assessment of your health is always undertaken and I will be happy to


recommend healing modalities that suit your needs, and offer wellness and lifestyle advice to


support your journey back to health.


Be well.

Ana Guerrero

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