Spleen Damp Cold

Damp Cold weather
Damp weather - Copyright Bara Cross Unsplash

Spleen Damp Cold is easy to catch if you are unwary. It’s a syndrome in Chinese medicine, and afflicts people who live in cold damp countries or environments.

There’s another syndrome called Damp-Heat, which is less directly related to the Spleen and is even more uncomfortable.

How to catch Spleen Damp Cold?



OK – couldn’t be bothered to click on the links?  Here’s the low-down: eat a rotten diet, worry yourself to death, regularly over-strain yourself and never get enough sleep.

Then, head for the hills on a cold, wet day, with a picnic containing just cold, raw, sweet foods: I don’t care if they’re so-called ‘healthy’ salads, just make sure there’s no heat around.

Sit down on the damp hill-side with nothing but your non-waterproofed clothes between you and the damp grass or earth.


Iced beer - worsens Spleen Damp Cold!
Photo by Cassiano Barletta

Eat your picnic in the rain and cold. Don’t wear much. Consume your food chilled. In fact, have a chilled beer!

Get wet and cold for a good long time. Don’t have a warm bath when you get home. Let your clothes dry out slowly from whatever meagre warmth your body can still muster.

Well Done! You’ve done your best to acquire Spleen Damp Cold. Now you can check your symptoms with the following description.

Other Ways to get Spleen Damp Cold

By the way! The above is not the only way. You could try living in a damp, cold basement for a long time. That would probably do it.

Or expose yourself to the cold, damp elements of winter in a Northern Climate (or presumably New Zealand or Chile) when not wearing enough.

Or how about working out of doors in a cold, wet climate? People who work on roofs, or window cleaners, or street cleaners and traffic wardens might all be doing jobs that make them susceptible to invasion of Cold and Damp.

Spleen Damp Cold
Wearing too little on a cold damp day can produce this syndrome

Girls who wear too little and frequent Edinburgh’s nightclub scene and then walk home in the foggy night – they can certainly get it. (Same for men, but usually men wear more round their waists and tend to have more yang energy.)

There are lots of ways!

Spleen Damp Cold Symptoms

Basically, you feel ‘full’, a bit heavy and nauseous. In more detail – though you may not have all of the following, or not all the time:

  • Stomach and/or abdomen feel full
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach area feels cold and likes warmth
  • Thirstless
  • Nausea
  • Either no taste or a sweet taste
  • Tired: body feels heavy
  • Painful areas are stiff and sore to get moving, often better for warmth
  • Stools are loose
  • May have oedema
  • Facial skin is pale
  • Head feels heavy; ‘muggy’
  • Women may have a white discharge from the vagina
  • Tongue: pale, with a white, sticky, coating
  • Pulse: slow and ‘slippery’

Is Spleen Damp Cold Acute or Chronic?

This is usually an acute condition, caused by an invasion of Cold and Damp. These have penetrated your clothes and skin and are slowing down your metabolism.

Taken at another level this is an invasion by Yin factors, because your Yang energy has been insufficient to defend you.

If so, you might recover without help, assuming your Spleen energy is fundamentally healthy and you make sure to keep warm and eat only warm foods. (Also, preferably don’t have too many worries!)

If however, you are the typical over-working, worrying Spleen type with a bad diet, then the condition could become permanent. If so, you will start to get other Spleen syndromes, and perhaps also some Kidney Yang deficiency symptoms.

One of those Spleen syndromes that might start appearing regularly is Liver Qi stagnation, because the Damp and Cold slow everything down and block the flow of Qi.

Even if you were fun to be with before, with just the basic Spleen Damp Cold symptoms – and that’s pretty doubtful – you certainly won’t be now, with that Liver Qi stagnation as well!

Acupuncture for Spleen Damp Cold


Acupuncture to support Spleen Damp Cold Treatment
Acupuncture to support Spleen Damp Cold treatment


The aim, if this is an acute episode, is to clear the Damp and the Cold.

For each, there are acupuncture points. These would be treated in different ways, some with moxa.

Herbs are also good here: the formula would be adjusted specifically to your particular symptoms. There are also manufactured tablets for some formulae: although not so precisely right for you, tablets may be both more convenient to take and cheaper.

If you’ve also acquired Liver Qi stagnation and Kidney Yang deficiency, then your condition is more chronic and will take a number of treatments before you feel well again.

What can YOU do about Spleen Damp Cold?

Treatment by an experienced acupuncturist who does the right things will, even so, only help a bit if you don’t adjust your habits a bit. Many people ignore the following advice but it’s the result of probably 3000 years of experience, so treat it with respect!

  • Keep dry and warm
  • Eat foods that are warm, and have been cooked properly
  • Chew food well before swallowing
  • Avoid Cold foods
  • Don’t sit on wet hillsides, or in contact with damp cold conditions.
  • Cover up well when outside.
  • Introduce some raw ginger root into your diet, for instance in stir-fried dishes or stews or soups.
  • Make a drink by putting a slice of ginger in a mug and pouring boiled water over it – then let it steep for a few minutes before sipping it.
  • When possible, apply heat to your stomach/abdomen, such as by using a wheat-bag, or hot water bottle.
  • Read our page on Nutrition.


NB You can sabotage even a good acupuncture treatment, or a good herbal prescription, by ignoring this advice!

I expect your acupuncturist will still happily take your money, but eventually he might get a bit stroppy if he’s got lots of other patients competing for  his time.

More about the Spleen energy

Your Spleen can be afflicted by various syndromes. Here’s some information about it and them. (This list is incomplete.)

Jonathan Brand colours

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2 Responses

  1. Jonathan, hi
    You are one of the best acupuncture teachers on-line! At least for me, I have been reading your articles and found them easy to understand. Perhaps I have “discovered” them just on time, when I had progressed enough to understand! My story of learning acupuncture is too long to tell here, but I want to thank you for the website you have made! It was looking different when I started using it, perhaps you have used the lock-down to make some changes! I personally would like to see the list of acupuncture points we could use in the treatment of the syndromes/patterns. Well, whether you decide on this or not, I wish you very good luck in your endeavours!

    1. Hi Stella, Thanks for your very nice comment! I’m glad you like the site.

      The reason syndromes don’t have suggested points is that the site was originally written for patients to understand more about the treatment I was giving them.

      Later, it turned out that people all over the world were reading it, many of them students, even practitioners, so some explanations became more elaborated and I began adding acupuncture points.

      The trouble now is that to go through all existing pages and add points takes time, and then really I should do a page on each point too, adding greatly to to it all when I’m adding new pages as well, plus videos and so on. Also, I’m always a little worried that someone might start self-treating too strongly for their own good when given the points.

      Anyway, I toil away at the coalface!

      You’re right about lockdown – it facilitated a concentrated burst of energy to improve the site.

      Thanks again for your comments! Jonathan

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