Also, important, you need to know which foods tend to cause or increase Dampbecause you need to avoid them! Otherwise it will be like trying to put out a fire with water while pouring on gasoline or petrol at the same time!
It’s a matter of degree and digestibility. Barley, for example, often helps your digestion work better, even though it contains some gluten. (Glutinous foods increase Damp in some people!)
Also, your body doesn’t easily ‘dry’ dampness. Drying implies Heat (or sometimes movement as the wind – moving air – dries wet garments you put on your washing line.) Heat implies that your body can produce Heat to do this, but as many damp sufferors know, their bodies aren’t usually naturally hot: they are chilly people!
More easy is to transform it into urine and pee it out. So suggesting that the following foods dry dampness is not quite correct!
Herbs and Spices that help to clear Dampness
Anti-dampness foods include herbs and spices:
Ginger – sliced from raw ginger root. This herb benefits your Spleen and is warming, but not hot in action. (Ginger powder, however, is ‘hot’, so don’t use it to clear damp.)
Some garden herbs like coriander leaf, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme are fragrant and lighten foods that might otherwise be too yin, too heavy or damp-producing.
Cinnamon is warming and helps you better digest foods that otherwise slow you down, like puddings, especially puddings made with dairy food.
Mild spices from seeds often stimulate digestion and make it more efficient, so reducing Damp. These include caraway, cardamom, coriander, cumin, fennel, star anise and turmeric. Get in the habit of adding them to dishes.
Foods to clear Dampness
Other anti-dampness foods:
Barley. Chinese medicine regards barley grain as a mild diuretic. Use it in soups and stews. (But, as explained, it does contain gluten so may not be suitable for those who are gluten-intolerant.)
Mushrooms – fungi. The thinking here is that mushrooms grow in damp places and absorb damp as they grow, so they ‘know’ how to help your body clear damp. Chinese cooks always cook them before eating them. So this does notinclude raw mushrooms.
Sprouts eg from beans but also from grains (not the glutinous ones, of course!) But sprouts have a cold energy so must be cooked and eaten hot to compensate.
Snow peas and snap peas. Other names for these include ‘sugar snap’ peas, ‘green’ peas, ‘Chinese’ pea, and ‘pois mangetout’ in French. If you’re still unsure, they all belong to a cultivar group based on pisum sativum var. macrocarpum. The main point is that the pods be edible. These are great anti-damp foods.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchee. These have a ‘cold’ quality, so don’ttake them when they are still chilled from being kept in your refridgerator, and do eat them with other, warm, foods. And CHEW THEM WELL!
Warm food. It is an important tenet in Chinese medicine that warm foods digest better than cold foods.
Well-chewed food. Chewing initiates digestion by mixing digestive enzymes in the mouth with a larger surface area of food. Smaller chunks of food break-down more easily in the stomach and proceed more smoothly through your digestive tract.
A note on non-glutinous grains
Theoretically, non-glutinous grains help clear Damp because they help you absorb nutrients without irritating your digestion, so helping your metabolism work more efficiently.
One variety of millet is Job’s Tears (coix lacryma-jobi) which is used in many Chinese herbal formulae to clear Damp.
Kidney Yang foods are mostly anti-damp!
To clear Damp, you need a healthy Spleen energy. You get that partly from having a healthy Kidney function, especially Kidney Yang energy. Foods that benefit Kidney Yang are mostly anti-dampness foods.
For some people, ‘food combining‘ is important, so that foods of different kinds work together.
The theory is that meat/protein dishes don’t mix well with fruit (there are important exceptions, of course) or grains, but they do mix with vegetables.
Vegetables mix with almost everything, but fruit and grain mix together less readily. So some of the anti-damp foods listed on this page may work better if you combine them correctly.
This ‘food combining’ diet, also known as the ‘Hay’ or ‘Kensington’ diet suits many people and if you suffer from Dampness, you may wish to try it for a while, whatever the science may say to the contrary at https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/food-combining!
Diuretic Foods help you Pee to clear Damp
Some foods are traditionally associated with increasing urination. Of course, increasing urination doesn’t necessarily mean Damp will be cleared, but if you urinate very little it makes it harder for your body to clear Damp. However, there may be reasons for reduced urination which you need to know about before changing your diet – so see your practitioner. Foods that make you pee more include beans that grow in bean pods: snap peas, garden peas, snow peas, string beans and broad beans.
Cornsilk tea is a traditional diuretic.
Many bitter foods have a diuretic effect. The classic is dandelion greens, but many varieties of cabbage including Brussel sprouts are somewhat bitter. Also artichoke, bitter melon, broccoli, celery, chicory, endive, radicchio and spinach. For more, see our page on the Bitter taste. When taking these foods, make sure to take them cooked and warm. Celery, for example, has a cold energy so when you use it as a diuretic you need to cook it to compensate for the coldness.
By the way … To clear Damp, your body mostly urinates it out but it’s important not to lose too much fluid at a time. Consequently many of the above foods are used in soups and stew which replace the moisture. The classic dish, a very frequent part of food in Chinese and SE Asia, is made from rice: try our recipe Clogstoun Congee. Though moisturising, it is one of many anti-dampness foods.