Damp (a Chinese medicine concept)

I’ve talked briefly before about Fall in the Pacific Northwest, but let’s get into some more details about how the weather here literally leads to Damp in our bodies. I was out playing in our great outdoors, and on the way back, a fellow adventurer asked me if the soggy Portland climate affected how I practiced. It was an interesting question, so I figured I’d share my response.

In Chinese medicine, you can be “invaded” by EPIs – External Pernicious Influences:  Heat, Cold, Damp, Dryness, and Wind (There are actually two types of Heat, but I’m simplifying here). Damp Heat infection examples include yeast and urinary tract infections. Damp Heat in the Gall Bladder* can cause jaundice.

Damp can also start internally. Remember that in this system we have energetic organs* with special duties. The Spleen transforms food into energy (I think they actually meant the pancreas!), and is important in fluid management. If the Spleen fails, or if there is an invasion, fluids accumulate into Damp. A classically Damp body is overweight. Other symptoms include heavy limbs, stiffness, and edema (fluid retention). Damp left unchecked can further consolidate into Phlegm. This may be literal mucus or lipomas (fatty tumors), or “invisible Phlegm” like brain fog or even depression.

Oregon is, of course, a very wet place! Whether the rain itself penetrates us, or the fact that hiking isn’t as much fun when you have to slosh through the mud… either way, living here can definitely contribute to obesity. Be sure to get off the couch and enjoy the sun when you can. I don’t think getting your skin soaked has an effect in terms of Damp, but a light rain jacket and hat can make a real difference in your comfort level, so gear up and go have some fun outside!

Sugar, alcohol, and dairy are the biggest Damp culprits in our diet. Microbrew and local cheese, anyone? Nourish your Spleen with protein and hearty cooked vegetables. This is especially important going into Fall and Winter, but don’t neglect them in favor of a completely raw diet even in the Summer.

Acupuncture is a great way to drain Damp, clear Heat, and restore balance to your system. Please ask if you have any questions!

* Energetic organs are typically capitalized to emphasize their distinct nature from our literal, anatomical organs.

 

 

Yin Tang (emotional balancing, anxiety, sinus issues)

Yin Tang (pronounced “Yin Tong”) is located directly between the inner borders of your eyebrows. It’s useful for treating sinus problems and frontal headaches, but it’s most often called upon to calm the Shen (spirit). If you are anxious or dealing with stress, you’ll know why it’s also referred to as “The Valium Point.”

Yin TangOther cultures have recognized the importance of this point. It’s close to (below) the “Third Eye” and the 6th Chakra of Indian traditions. In the short-lived TV show Eli Stone, the title character experienced visions when his acupuncturist needled him on the forehead … a little too high, unfortunately (I’m sure I’m not the only acupuncturist who wrote to them – after a while they obscured the actual insertion location with the actor’s hands). Anyway, I wouldn’t expect to start seeing visions, but it will definitely help you find some inner peace.

To use Yin Tang, simply press with a fingertip for about 10 seconds. Take a deep breath, be grateful you’ve backed up your computer, and smile. Don’t you feel better already?

 

KD-1 (emotional grounding, headache)

Yong Quan (Gushing Spring) KD-1 is located on the sole, about an inch below the “butt cheeks” formed by the ball of the foot. It descends energy, so it’s great for treating some types of headaches, gastroperesis, and acid reflux. It also grounds the patient emotionally and supports the Kidney (Remember, the Chinese energetic organ called the Kidney is not the same as your anatomical kidneys). The Kidney stores your Essence and is associated with the emotion of Fear, so this is a doubly good point to use for PTSD or other issues with being afraid. Of course it’s also useful for plantar fascitis and other foot problems. Press firmly for 20-30 seconds, with a loving, healing intention.

PC-6 (digestive & emotional issues)

PC-6, Nei Guan (Inner Pass)

Nei Guan is one of my favorite acupressure points. It’s perfectly safe (no contraindications), easy to find (2 finger widths from your wrist crease), and easily available, even in public while dressed. It’s wonderful for pretty much ANY stomach complaint.

PC-6 is found on the palm side of your forearm, about two inches from the wrist, between the tendons. It’s often used to treat gastritis (stomach pain), seasickness, nausea and reflux, but Nei Guan settles more than just the digestion. It soothes and grounds the spirit, too, with a gentle calming effect. For this reason, it’s perfect to treat an upset stomach due to emotional upheaval. Press firmly (both sides!) for 10-20 seconds with a healing intention. You can also use an acupressure “sea band” bracelet – just position the hard plastic bead on top of PC-6. They can be found at travel stores, some drugstores, and of course I have them at the office.

PC-6, excellent for nausea, heartburn, gastritis, or emotional upheaval causing stomach distress.