In my previous post, I wrote about whether healthy fats can cause dampness in the body and if you do, how can you get rid of dampness with TCM? If you feel cold all the time or constantly have digestive issues or have that constant brain-fog that affects your ability to concentrate, then perhaps it is a sign of dampness in your body. In illnesses, dampness is described as a condition of stagnation and viscosity and is caused by the disturbance of the water metabolism.
In this post, I will be introducing:
- Acupuncture points for dampness
- Different types of moxibustion techniques
- TCM herbs for dampness
ACUPOINTS FOR DAMPNESS
REN 9 Shui Fen
On the mid-line of the abdomen, 1 cun (1 thumb breadth) above the belly button. Best to use moxibustion for this point. It regulates the water passage and opens up the water passage way. It can be used for water diseases such as edema. Distention of the intestines and stomach, vomiting after eating, swollen abdomen, feeling of “water” rushing up to the chest and causing difficulty breathing.
ST 40 Feng Long
On the front of the leg, imagine a line from the base of the knee cap to the outer prominence of the ankle bone, it’s right in the midway, and it’s 2 finger breadths from the tibia (shin) bone. It is the single most important acupoint on the Stomach meridian to transform phlegm in the body. ST 40 is a Luo point, which is the connecting point to the Spleen channel. So this has a duo effect, treating both Spleen and Stomach. It can clear dampness and phlegm from the Lung and alleviate cough and wheezing, clear phlegm to clear the mind (bye brain fog) so that clear Yang can rise to the head.
SP 3 Tai Bai
On the inside of the foot,slide the fingertip proximally over the side of the ball of the foot. This point is the Shu-stream, Yuan source and earth point of the Spleen channel and has a super powerful action of regulating the Spleen and Stomach. Super-acupoint for Dampness. Used for deficiency of the Spleen and Stomach, heaviness of the body, sensation of being “pressed down” on the bones, diarrhoea, hunger with no pleasure in eating.
“Dampness, swelling and fullness all pertain to the Spleen… and when the Spleen is diseased, damp is generated.” – Essential Questions
SP 9 Yin Ling Quan
On the inside of the leg near the knee, run the finger in the groove behind the tibia bone until it falls in a depression. This point is the He-sea and water point of the Spleen meridian and is an essential point in the treating conditions due to dampness and retention of fluid especially in the lower part of the body. Used for abdominal distention, cold and pain the abdomen (if you put something warm on it and it feels good means it’s caused by coldness), edema, swelling of the lower leg, sudden diarrhoea with undigested food (IBS), difficulty passing urination (water can’t flow properly).
KI 7 Fu Liu
On the inside of the ankle, in the depression 2 cun (3 finger breaths) above the ankle bone, in front of the Achilles tendon. Being on a Kidney meridian, it benefits the Kidneys, regulate the water passage and treats edema, regulate sweating (yup that’s water too), moisten dry tongue and parched mouth by channeling water where it’s supposed to be and regulating urination.
MOXIBUSTION FOR DAMPNESS
It is one of the TCM heating therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort or moxa called “Ai Ye” in Chinese on the acupoints. Moxa are dried leaves that has been pounded into like a cotton like form. We use moxa to warm certain parts of the body or acupoints to stimulate circulation and induce a smoother flow of Qi and blood. This is used to treat conditions associated with Yang deficiencies or coldness in the body. Since dampness is Yin and cold, moxa can move the water and alleviate the symptoms.
There are many types of moxibustion methods.
- Direct moxa: Tiny amount of moxa is placed directly onto the acupoint.
- Indirect moxa: Moxa is placed onto a ginger, garlic (for example on REN 9) or salt (to use in the belly button).
- Needle moxa: Moxa ball is pushed in onto the top of the needle. The heat will travel down the needle and directly onto the acupoint.
- Stick moxa: Moxa rolled up like a cigar and it is moved around in circles or pecking motion to target certain areas.
- Stick-on moxa: Convenient DIY moxa.
- Moxa box: Place moxa in the box and place the box on larger areas such as the abdomen, lower back or waist.
They even have a non-smoke version for those allergic to smoke or to be used in clinics with smoke alarms.
HERBS FOR DAMPNESS 💧
All the herb below are used tonify the Spleen to dry dampness. Most will promote urination, treat edema and diarrhoea. The main differentiating actions are in bold and I’ve added one emoji on the subheading that best describes the herb. In TCM, there’s this treatment principle that states “利小便实大便”, meaning to promote urination to solidify the stools. So by peeing it out the excess water, the stools become firmer. Yup, you need the water to be flowing in the right places!
Zhu Ling 🚽
- Zhu Ling is better at promoting urination than Fu Ling and Ze Xie.
- Zhu Ling cannot calm the Spirit like Fu Ling.
- Zhu Ling cannot cool deficient heat like Ze Xie. Zhu Ling is much better for damp heat in the lower regions of the body.
Che Qian Zi 👀
- Good for clearing damp-heat. Relief painful or difficult “hot” urinary dysfunction.
- Good for clearing Liver heat. Brightens the eyes, reduce red, pain, or swelling eyes.
- Good for dissolving phlegm in the Lung. Stops cough with lots of thick yellow sputum.
- Che Qian Zi is like chia seeds and will float and stick to the pot, or be difficult to strain so it’s usually packed in a cheesecloth.
Tong Cao 🍼
- Promotes Lactation
- Mu Tong is similar herb but it’s much more bitter and powerful. Toxic in high doses.
Yu Mi Xu 🌽
- It’s the hairy part of the corn. Next time you buy a corn cob, keep the hair and let it dry to use for tea.
- Good for edema due to nephritis, swelling, painful urination.
- Good for diabetes too.
Yi Yi Ren (Coix seed or Chinese Barley) ⛈️
- This barley is delicious and can be taken as tea or a sweet porridge by adding chinese red dates and Chi Xiao Dou (read below).
- Great food for strengthening the Spleen and at the same time getting rid of dampness.
- Good for stiff joints, muscle spasm and pain due to wind-damp obstruction in the meridians.
- Good for acne, pimples as it can clear heat and expel pus.
Chi Xiao Dou 🔥
- It is a red bean. However unlike the azuki beans that we are used to, Chi Xiao Dou is smaller and thinner. It has a slightly sour taste and can strongly promote urination and drain excess water. Don’t over consume as it might dry you up.
- Clears Damp Heat and relief mild jaundice.
- Good for skin problems such as carbuncles, furuncles, sores as it can disperses blood stagnation, reduces swelling & toxins and clear pus.
Try making this Barley Red Bean Soup . Use Chi Xiao Dou instead of the normal red beans, skip the sugar and less candied winter melon.
Ze Xie ♂️
- Drains Kidney deficiency heat . Hot flushes, night sweating, hot palms and soles of the feet, dry cough especially at night are signs of deficient heat.
- Good for male – spermatorrhea, premature ejaculation, and nocturnal emissions associated with Kidney fire due to damp heat.
- Not suitable for people with Yang deficiency (cold).
Fu Ling 💤
- Common herbs for all Spleen deficiency with dampness.
- Good for edema due to any etiology.
- Calm the spirit to treat insomnia and anxiety.
- Good for fatigue, low appetite, loose stools, dizziness, palpitation due to dampness and those with thick and greasy tongue coat.
- No. 1 Spleen tonifying herb!
- Good for stopping spontaneous sweating which refers to sweating for no reason when no one else is sweating.This is caused by Wei (defensive) Qi deficiency – low immunity.
- Stabilizes pregnancy and calms the baby 👶 – Good for “restless baby” due to lack of Spleen Qi and undernourishment. This is usually accompanied by scanty vaginal bleeding during the 1st trimester and lumbar soreness.
Chinese Medicine says that “there is no place that the phlegm cannot reach”, ” the hundred diseases all pertain to phlegm” and “strange diseases all pertain to phlegm”. It’s time for some self care or get it checked out by your TCM physician.
18 Replies to “How to get rid of Dampness with TCM?”
What are the signs when dampness is leaving the body?
Hi Sara, when the dampness is leaving it means that the Spleen is getting stronger and performing its function properly. So you will experience less of the dampness signs (sluggish, heaviness, pheglmy, loose stools etc) as mentioned in the blog.
I see. Am trying to get rid of the dampness in the body. TCM practitioner recommended some herbs and use of foot soak. I notice I sweat more easily now (Iast time I dont break a sweat even after working out). Well, I’m taking it as a good sign the dampness is leaving.
Yes, eliminating dampness (water) can be done by sweating or urinating out the excess water. Sweating more may also means that the water metabolism is getting better too. Hope you feel well soon !
Hello there, just came across your article while researching cure for my hives. I have chronic hives for 9 months now. I consulted a TCM doctor when I was back in Indonesia and only got to see him twice and had about 10 days worth of herbal teas. I am in Canada now and the other day I tried to continue my herbal teas based on the prescription given to me by my TCM. But the herbal tea made me nauseated and vomited a couple of times. I got scared and didn’t continue with the rest. My question is whether it’s possible to get rid of dampness with just taking barley and red bean (I couldn’t find chi xiao dou) ?
Hi Lulu, thanks for your comment. Are you drinking the herbs on an empty stomach? Perhaps drinking small sips after food might be help. I am not sure about your exact condition, but you can take red bean (warming) and barley to clear damp. Corn silk tea – boil the hairy part on top of the corn and drink as tea is a good to clear dampness too. Hope this helps.
Thank you for your reply. I took the herbs after a meal. I did take the whole thing in one straight drink instead of small sips. I have taken the same prescription for 2 days back when I was in Indonesia . So the herbs were not completely new to me. My concern was whether there’s a mistake when the prescription was filled. So maybe one of the herbs was mistakenly swapped ?
Anyway, I’ll try with what I have right now. Btw, do you know if corn silk supplement (in pill form) works as well if I couldn’t find corn silk tea ? Thanks again. I appreciate the response.
Hi, I don’t think the herbs got swapped. Perhaps you can contact your physician about it too? If you keep vomiting then I think you should stop taking it. I haven’t come across corn silk in pill form, go with the barley and if you feel heaty add mung beans.
Hello, thank you for this great and comprehensive article on how to get rid off dampness. It has been a life-saver in affirming the Chinese Barley Tea that I was told to consume. In this article you add “Chi Xiao Dou” or “Small Bamboo Bean” with Chinese Barley. However, when I went to the wet market to buy, the vendor told me that it should be “Chi Dou” or “Chek Dao” (in Hokkien) which is pale red in colour that people normally mix with the usual red bean for dessert. Both beans sound almost the same except for one with “Xiao” but looks vastly different. Can you explain the difference in terms of benefits and efficacy between using “Chi Xiao Dou” and “Chi Dou”? Also was told by the market vendor that in concocting this Chinese Barley + Chi Dou tea that one should off the fire and remove the beans once it is boiling a short while and the line on the bean is opened. The soup will then be “cooling”. If over-cooked the soup will turn “heaty”. I heard of this before. How do you explain this effect?
The concept of “Dampness” in Chinese medicine is less well known and under-appreciated but many of us are afflicted with this condition without even knowing it. Hope you can continue to write more on Dampness along with the other 5 conditions of Cold, Heat, Dryness, Wind and Fire for the benefit of the community. As I am also located in Singapore, I hope you will contact me if you ever are running TCM Wellness Classes. Truly there is a market out there!
Thank you for the comment.
Both of them are under the same Red Bean family and many textbooks and cultures have different names for it.
1) Chi Xiao Dou 赤小豆
– Also known as Hong Xiao Dou红小豆·, Fan Dou 饭豆
– This is used as a medicine in TCM
– Small and thin. Dark red colour or can be crimson or black
– Traditionally used to cook with Barley (but in shops, they probably use the round red bean because it’s tastier)
– Properties: Slightly cooling to neutral
– Difficult to become mushy when you cook. Will usually be slight hard.
2) Hong Dou 红豆
– Also known as Chi Dou 赤豆, like what your vendor said
– Rounder, bigger and paler red
– Use for desserts, Dou Sa Pao 豆沙
– Properties: Slightly warm to neutral
– Will get mushy when you cook long
With regard to turning off the fire: My understanding is that the medicinal properties are in the bean’s skin. When they break, the chemical components change and the properties change. For example, a neutral food can be more cooling or more heaty depending on whether you eat it raw or fry it.
If you want to take the red bean to get rid of dampness, I recommend you take the Chi Xiao Dou (just check that it’s like a long grain rice, thin and longer and it’s in dark red colour).
Hope this helps!
And yes, I shall write about the other 5 conditions some day. For wellness class updates, please follow me on instagram @kanpobliss. I update there more often:)
Hi, kanpobliss. I love the content you create. I do have a question regarding a damp-heat expelling diet. Is it alright to steam coix seeds / chi xiao dou with brown rice? Will I still yield the same damp-heat expelling effects if I were to cook coix seeds / chi xiao dou with my brown rice?
Hi, I have been having ‘allergic conjunctivitis’ for 6 years until recently i found out that every problem i have had is linked to dampness. Oily hair, larger stomach, loose stools and urination, eye mucus and swollen eyelids for 6 years, unexplainable skin condition, basically lots of mucus in nose,eyes area that is hard to discharge, hairloss, eczema when I was younger. Have u heard of 伏湿膏 or tried it before, basically contains many of the ingredients to treat dampness, heard it is especially useful . Also are foods such as mung bean soup(without sugar) and fresh coconut juice useful? Not sure if they are truly yin in nature, which may not be helping me, but whenever I consume them, my eye mucus tends to clear up.
I just started acupuncture in an effory to try to find a solution to my never-ending battle with acne. I started having problems with it when I was 11, and began seeing a dermatologist when I was 13. I’ve tried pills, creams, lotions, Accutane- everything- acupuncture is my only hope, at this point. I started acupuncture about 2 weeks ago. I am now 43 and my face is worse than ever. My acupuncturist said my acne is coming from my stomach, and specifically, I’m experiencing damp heat.
Can you recommend any remedies that work?
Hi Aleena, thank you for your massage. Yes, your skin is the mirror of your insides so your acne could be coming from an internal gut issue. Perhaps too much damp heat in your stomach but I wouldn’t know for sure. I am sure your acupuncturist is adding some cooling acupoins. Sometimes it may be a hormonal issue as well if it gets worse around the period cycles.
How is your diet – make sure you eliminate all processed food and sugars as much as you can, it’d be like a ‘detox’ for the skin too. You can try washing your face with strong organic green tea 3 times a day.
For herbs, “Qing Wei San”. “Fang Feng Tong Sen San” are used to clear Stomach Fire. Please consult with your doctor before taking any medications.
Thank you so much!
I’m really trying to find the best way to relieve my dampness at home. Two of the acupoints above are very tender, and I massage them regularly, with gentle but firm fingers. Also, my ayurvedic doctor mentions never to take anything that warms my energy or digestion too much (I’m a fiery digestion and temperament). I adore ginger in all forms and it’s very helpful in aiding digestion. I’m very phlegmy in the lungs all year long. What are the best cooling herbs for helping the spleen and ridding dampness? If I can take everyone’s wisdom and put it all together, this just might turn my life around!
Hi Cherie, thanks for your massage. Just a note that ginger is very heaty and warms your energy. If you ayurvedic doctor says you have fiery digestion then you shouldn’t be taking it too much. White fungus soup, chinese pear stewed in honey, bitter chinese almonds are good for lungs.
I have recently been diagnosed with UTI and that lasted for almost a month. The problem is that I think I extremely overhydrate myself during that period. So while the infection cleared up around a month ago, I still feel the urgent need to urinate and feel constricted while doing so. My bladder is still overreactive and very sensitive (I feel the need to pee with every step of running). After some research on TCM, I think I may have either cold dampness in my bladder or kidney yang deficiency (I feel cold all the time like the coldness radiates from my bones, my sleep is unusually deep, and weak lower back for unknown reason), or both. Is there any suitable treatment for my condition? Any suggestions? Thank you so much in advance!