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Dampness Bogging You Down?

Figure Bogged Down by DampnessIn Traditional Chinese Medicine, certain diseases or adverse health conditions can result from an excess of dampness in the body. The buildup of dampness is generally influenced by three things: an individual’s constitution (hereditary factors), an individual’s lifestyle (activity level and exposure to actual dampness in the external environment), and an individual’s diet (consumption of foods which either fortify or weaken the digestive system). The presence of dampness indicates an imbalance of Yin and Yang and a weakness of the spleen; dampness may also indicate weakness in the kidneys or lungs. If dampness continues to accumulate, this imbalance will bog you down, blocking the flow of life force energy (your qi) and ultimately leading to stagnation within the body.

How Dampness Feels

When the humidity outside goes up in the summer months, most of us really feel it. Our physical surroundings—and even the air we breathe—can seem wet, heavy, and waterlogged. Dampness is essentially the equivalent of high humidity inside the body (a physical condition), and it can be experienced in a similar way. Your limbs may feel heavy and you might be slow to get moving. You may feel bloated, swollen, sluggish, and unmotivated. You may notice an increased level of mucus and fluid in the body, loose stools, and a tendency to gain weight. The effects of external dampness (if present in your immediate physical environment) may also cause joint pain, dizziness, and a heavy sensation within the chest. Dampness can occur as both damp-heat and damp-cold.

How Dampness Affects Your Health

In addition to the high-humidity effects felt above, the accumulation of dampness within the body can manifest in a number of other ways. Some of the most common signs of excess dampness include: allergies and sinus congestion, inflammation (arthritis), respiratory problems (asthma), skin conditions (cystic acne and eczema), urinary tract infections, yeast infections, digestive issues, headaches, and edema.

Treating and Preventing Internal Dampness

There is probably not much you can do about your inherited constitution and you may be limited in regard to changing your physical environment. You can, however, make significant changes to your diet with the aim of resolving (and preventing) the accumulation of dampness in the body. It’s imperative that you keep your digestive system running smoothly so that it can process nutrients, remove toxins, and help support the spleen and other organs. Be aware of what you eat and how it affects you (you might even want to keep a food journal). Avoid overeating, as well as excess coffee and alcohol. Limit processed foods, raw fruits and vegetables, refined starch, dairy products, sugar, and anything deep-fried.  Consume foods and beverages at room-temperature. Bump up your intake of lean proteins, broths and soups, bitter spices, whole grains, and legumes. Exercise and adequate rest will also keep your digestive system in tip-top shape.

If you find the concept of dampness inside the body somewhat confusing, consider making an appointment with a licensed acupuncturist. They can help shed light on how this imbalance may be affecting you and suggest both treatment options and dietary/lifestyle changes to improve your overall health.

Resources:

Learn More About TCM Dampness and Food Therapy

Nourishing your body in the winter-A Chinese element perspective

According to Chinese medicine, the organ system associated with the winter is [highlight] [/highlight] the kidneys. Winter represents the most Yin aspect-it is dark, cold and slow in energy (as opposed to Yang-which is represented by summer whose energy is light, warm and quick.) In the winter time-the days are shorter, it is colder outside and we aren’t as active. The kidney is the source of our most basic and fundamental energy (or Qi) in the body so it is essential to nourish it. Ever wonder why you might feel more tired or get sick more often in the winter? Your kidney Qi is depleted. Acupuncture is a great way to support your Qi.

Food as Medicine. In the wintertime-try and focus on warming and nourishing foods such as soups and stews.  Your kidneys are reliant on quality animal protein like unprocessed meats or eggs to build blood and circulate that blood throughout all your extremities which will in turn keep your entire body warmer. Your kidneys will also appreciate lightly incorporating minerals like sea salt (non-iodized) into your diet this time of year. Foods that are specifically nourishing to the kidneys are: black beans, bone broths, lamb, chicken, walnuts, chestnuts, black sesame seeds and dark leafy greens.

Sip some tea. If you’ve been outdoors for a period of time to build a snowman, wait for the bus, or shovel the driveway, drinking a mug of warming herbal tea once you’re back indoors is a great way to warm the kidneys. Cinnamon, ginger, and citrus are nice teas your kidneys will appreciate. Offering your kidneys, the little extra love and support they need this time of year isn’t too tricky. After all, ‘tis the season.

 

CINNAMON WALNUT FLAX MUFFINS:
Prep Time: 10 minutes                                                        Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes                                                        Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ground flax meal
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil or any oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sweetener (maple sugar erythritol, coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Mix ingredients together in a mixing bowl in the order they are listed. You can use an electric mixer if you’d like, but be sure to add in walnuts last, after using a mixer.
  3. Bake at 325°F for 18 to 22 minutes.

 

HOW TO MAKE BONE BROTH:

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds beef bones with marrow
  • 4 unpeeled carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, peel on, slices in half lengthwise and quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, peel on and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 5-6 sprigs parsley
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 18-20 cups cold water

Instructions   

  1. Place all ingredients in a 10 quart capacity crock-pot or large pan on the stove.
  2. Add in water.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce and simmer gently, skimming the fat that rises to the surface occasionally.
  4. Simmer for 24-48 hours.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill.
  7. Use within a week or freeze up to 3 months.

Bone broth has many health benefits. It is highly nutritious, protects the joints, help fight osteoarthritis, helps reduce inflammation and heal the gut, aid in sleep, and may support weight loss.

If you would like to learn more, please contact Jill Doan, Licensed Acupuncturist at To The Point Acupuncture, LLC. http://www.ttpacupuncture.com