Damp Heat, Ⅰ

Damp Heat

Ⅰ: Difficult Pattern to Resolve

With Chinese Herbal Medicine, we will refer to your body in terms of different environmental states. When out of balance, how these environmental states can engender, hinder or destroy a healthy state of being. We can relate these environmental states to specific Chinese Medicine Patterns of imbalance. 

Today we will be diving into the specific Chinese Medicine Pattern idea of Dampness combining with Heat as a more tangible substance and how that relates to your body in health and dis-ease.


Dampness is literally…dampness. Imagine dampness, what it looks like and what it creates. Take for instance a wet towel, which will often be cold to the touch because dampness by its very nature is cool. As it relates your body, imagine extra fluid in a specific area. This fluid will also have paired with it coolness. In some places of your body this dampness and coolness is desired, yet dampness in most cases as it’s referenced in Chinese Medicine is a term to denote a pathogenic influence. Dampness becomes pathogenic when it is present in a certain place of your body where it should not exist. In its pathogenic state, dampness will often appear as clear, copious fluid. It can also appear whitish or cloudy. It will often simply manifest as edema or even bloating. Other manifestations can appear as cataracts or cloudy urine. As mentioned, it may often bring with it the element of coolness or cold.


Moving on to the Heat Element, it is literally warmth, heat or fire. In physics, heat is known to make things expand, as well as rise. The physiological aspects of heat can be seen with skin redness, infections, eruptions, boils, an increased core temperature and general warmth. Imagine a hot burner on your stovetop. Your burner will turn red when it is on and as it is radiating heat. 

Heat behaves differently when it comes to your body. Heat can and often will manifest as: red eyes, irritation, restlessness, chronic infections, uncontrolled thoughts or attention [ADD] and emotions such as anger and hostility. It will often manifest on the surface of the body or rise to the head, but can show in the lower aspect of your body as with a UTI.

Combining Both Elements

When you combine these two elements, you get an altogether new beast of sorts. Dampness no longer behaves only like dampness, and heat no longer behaves only like heat. It becomes a new substance entirely of its own.

As we discussed dampness is naturally cool, but when it is combined with heat it changes its nature into – Damp Heat. Also, as we discussed heat rises, but in this case when it is combined with dampness, it no longer rises but actually descends as with water.

Damp Heat is a new substance all of its own, creating a new environment and often blocking and restricting Blood and Chi flow in the areas it inhabits.

Damp Heat often descends into the lower parts of your body, creating a new environmental state much like a steam sauna. 

Imagine an aspect of your body having an environmental state like a steam sauna.

How do you think it’s going to affect your tissues, circulation and fluids?

Do you think sweating, redness and itching may manifest?

How about a change in skin color or smell or swelling?

All of these are often the case.

Read on to the next page to get a simplified description of this pattern.

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