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In life, we use water to douse fire, as in the picture right (Firefighters On Duty ID: 210262 © Kmitu | Dreamstime Stock Photos). If you stand too close, the steam will scald you.
Think of the effect warm, humid weather has on you. If you're like me, it makes you feel tired and heavy. Sweating doesn't work! Your body tries to cool itself through perspiration, but the humidity prevents the sweat from evaporating, so you stay hot. Meantime the perspiration on your skin becomes more salty.
Assuming that global warming is a reality, then we may expect the incidence of damp-heat to increase. Some forms that it takes are contagious, but not all. Read on for the details.
With this syndrome, usually the main problem is the Damp. After all, the heat of a sauna becomes more uncomfortable the more water you pour on the hot coals. If there's no water, the air, though hot and dry (dryness, by the way, if too intense or prolonged can harm your Lung energy and your lungs) is easier to endure.
In Chinese medicine, many health problems and conditions are wholly or partly due to an invasion of damp and heat together. Here are just a few - you'll think of more when you understand how it works:
When you combine the signs of damp and heat in your body, you get one or more of the following symptoms:
In Chinese medicine, there are two broad ways to describe how you get it, called External and Internal, with some overlap.
External means that damp-heat forces its way into your body from outside. Your body tries to slow its progress by putting up barriers.
These barriers are not physical blocks, but energetic blocks. I'll try to explain what this means.
Where those barriers occur, you get a syndrome which describes how the body defends itself via symptoms. In effect, the symptoms are the signs of that particular syndrome. The name of the syndrome is shorthand for the way the body defends itself, ie how it blocks.
Everybody uses shorthand in everyday life.
Chinese medicine is full of shorthand ways of describing health and illness situations that you find yourself in. It's useful for people using it all the time, because they don't have to explain everything when talking about it with other professionals.
However, if you're new to it it's all very confusing. Damp-Heat is one of those areas which seems easy on the surface, but after several thousand years of hard thought, Chinese medicine has managed to complicate it, at least for newbies! That's because its repercussions can reach so far into our health. So you'll find all sorts of side-avenues from this page.
With attacks invading from outside, the Chinese worked out that there are three ways the body reacts. Each of these three ways has further subdivisions.
1. As a reaction to a Contagious Disease
Here damp-heat appears as your body's defence against contagious disease. Your body defends itself through Four levels - already mentioned above - each deeper than the last.
The first of these levels is the wei or Defensive level. You will be familiar with this if you've ever suffered from an acute contagious disease.
If the bug is really powerful, it can overcome this level and push deeper. The common cold is usually easily stopped at the wei level - nobody dies at the wei level!
More powerful bugs like Ebola can easily push through this level, for instance to the Qi level, also mentioned below. But for susceptible people, when their immune system is weak, even mild bugs like the common cold can push through the first level and become dangerous.
How do you become susceptible and unable to stop even a mild disease at this level? Lots of ways! -
For more on the actual symptoms and what happens, click on Four Levels.
2. As a reaction to an Environmental Hazard
This 'invades' through your skin and then along up your acupuncture channels (or meridians). Here there is no contagious disease, just something to which your body responds with this syndrome of damp-heat.
In susceptible people, getting cold and wet might do it: it happened to me once!
After riding my bicycle through a thunderstorm and getting my legs and low back soaked, I had no time to get dry and warm before starting work. The next day I had symptoms of damp and heat (mainly damp) in my back. (What symptoms were these? Stiffness, heaviness, very hard to get moving after rest, temporarily better from continued movement and warmth: aching back.)
I had several massage treatments which helped temporarily, but what got rid of it, was a homoeopathic remedy, which worked instantly.
3. Arising from damp-heat building up in one of the susceptible zang-fu
Internal means that the syndromes arose from problems within your body, though they may have started externally.
Internal Damp-Heat can be either acute or chronic.
This depends on where your Damp-Heat has reached in your system. For instance, if it has managed to progress into your joints, or deeply into your Zang-fu energy organs, you'll need treatment from a professional. (Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have helped many.)
You can help yourself, however, wherever it has reached.
The following is pretty well common sense, and we'll have pages about some of them in due course.
Alternatively, ring him on 07950 012501 or freephone (only free to telephone within the UK) 0800 298 7015.
Please note! The Kindle editions are less easy to read! Although the paper editions cost more, they are much easier to read and to refer back and forth to the contents and index.
Here are some of the books Jonathan has written:
Still only one comment, though personally I think this is my best book so far.
Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine!
No comments yet: just published. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)
3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!
By the author of this website, it explains in simple English how to use stress to improve and enhance your life.
NB You can also order 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' from your bookseller.
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