Internal Damp Phlegm
Dampness, a Yin disorder, includes any overly wet or moist condition in the body. It can come from the environment, or it can be due to poor diet or internal organ weakness. Damp excess in the digestive tract, lungs, urinary bladder, sexual organs, and elsewhere most often causes various types of mucoid deposits or moist accumulations such as edema, cysts, tumors, and cancers or an overgrowth of yeasts, viruses, putrefactive bacteria, amoebas and parasites.
Dampness tends to accumulate and sink, becoming more viscous and sticky as conditions become more chronic and the fluids consolidate, becoming coagulated; they are then referred to as Phlegm. Excess mucus is generally a sign of “sweet blood” which is thick, sticky and high in sugar, fats, or proteins. Phlegm conditions are tenacious and can take a very long time to clear up. Phlegm can move around and get stuck in various parts of the body. Damp Phlegm often accumulates in the respiratory system and causes congestion with symptoms such as cough, nasal mucus, sinus infection and dyspnea. But internal phlegm can develop in joints causing rheumatoid arthritis, in muscle tissue causing fibromyalgia, in the blood vessels causing obstructions, in the nervous system causing types of numbness, tremor or paralysis. Yeast overgrowth will almost exclusively occur in the presence of pathogenic dampness as it requires a damp environment to proliferate.
Common Causes of Dampness
Spleen Qi Deficiency
In many cases, the cause of digestive dampness is the deficient Spleen Qi or Yang patterns discussed earlier.
The amount and quality of dampness present in the digestive tract and throughout the body are further measures of the health of the spleen Qi and therefore of digestion in general. One of the spleen functions in the body is to govern water metabolism. It is in charge of separation, transportation, and movement of fluids. If the energy of the Spleen is deficient it cannot sufficiently transport fluids. Eventually this will lead to fluid retention, called “internal dampness”.
Environmental influences such as a humid climate or a great deal of rain or snow which damages the Spleen will worsen internal damp condition. Damp environment applies not only to weather but to other damp situations like sitting too long on cold, damp ground, or excessive bathing.
Poor diet with fried foods, sticky, dense and heavy foods, cold food, too many raw foods, juicing, or an overconsumption of food in general.
Symptoms that Indicate Internal Dampness:
Turbid, cloudy or sticky excretions and secretions
Non-fertile vaginal discharge
Aversion to drinking, even when thirsty
Hard time waking up and getting out of bed
Symptoms worsen with wet weather
Sticky or watery bowel movement or chronic diarrhea
Feeling of heaviness in the body, especially in the abdomen
Once invading the joints, movement becomes difficult and numbness in the limbs is experienced. The pain is fixed in location.
SPLEEN QI DEFICIENCY DAMP-PHLEGM PATTERNS
Cold tends to constrict and slow things down; Cold-Damp would be indicated by an aversion to the cold, a slowed metabolism, stiffness and soreness in the muscles and joints (osteoarthritis), clear or white discharges and phlegm, quiet voice, thick white wet coated tongue, dull headaches, tiredness, and a desire for warm foods and drink. Prolonged Coldness would be associated with Yang Depletion.
Stagnated dampness may eventually create composting heat, transforming in to Damp-Heat over time. Damp-Heat is indicated by redness, swelling, blisters, UTI’s with burning pain, thick yellow/green phlegm, sticky yellow coat on tongue, rashes with redness and discharge, sores with puss, strong odors, and painful acne with redness and puss; herpes shingles are good examples as well as itchy, weepy psoriasis or eczema The dietary treatment for Damp-Heat conditions involves foods that are cooling and drying. (Denoted by * below).
Internal Wind Damp Cold or Wind Damp Heat
Wind-Damp would produce symptoms as above but with erratic patterns, moving from one place to the next as in migrating arthritic pains, and appearing and disappearing as in rashes moving from place to place.
True to the tenacious nature of dampness, these kinds of conditions are not easily resolved and require consistent individual treatment. Most of these conditions begin with yeast excess in the digestive tract, and most respond to a diet which is low in fats and mucus forming food and high in whole, unprocessed vegetal foods. It is imperative to consume foods that decrease and dry dampness.
Internal dampness originates from a “deficient Spleen” therefore changing the diet is essential in treating this condition.
Dietary factors which contribute to accumulation of dampness
All cold and raw foods should be avoided, including too many raw fruits, vegetable, sprouts and juices. Intake of highly sweet and mucus forming foods needs to be limited, these include meats, eggs, milk, and dairy products. Fats, oils, butter, oily foods like nuts and seeds, fried foods and foods containing concentrated sweeteners should also beavoided. Excessive intake of simple sugars from sweeteners and fruits encourage the growth of infections and yeast.
Dampness recommended diet
Favor foods that are dry, light penetrating and hot in quality. These will melt away congestion and dry excess mucus. Pungent aromatics such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves and black pepper, especially when combined with honey, are expectorants and decongestants that help the body spit out, dissolve or dry out mucus. Add some mustard seeds to your next curry and sip on some Tulsi tea to breathe easy. Pungent, bitter and astringent tastes also work to balance mucus in the stomach and lungs and will promote comfortable breathing.
Meals should be light and simple with not too many ingredients, taking in small quantities. Overeating and late night eating should be avoided. Food should be mostly cooked and served warm or in room temperature.
Foods that particularly dry dampness are bitter and pungent foods in taste with light and dry quality.
Buckwheat, quinoa, millet*, barley*, rye, amaranth*, and corn
Grains that can contribute to accumulation of dampness are bread and pastries based on wheat/spelt/oat flour and wheat/durum flour pasta.
Legumes are perfect foods for dampness thanks to their drying and diuretic quality. Adzuki bean is a great food for clearing internal dampness because of its intensely drying nature. Red beans, lentils, and mung beans* are suitable as well.
The cruciferous family of vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, turnip, radish, and daikon are very drying in nature. Other options are pumpkin, carrot, beet, garlic, parsley root and coriander root.