Discussion about Dampness

Deep Dive into Traditional Chinese Medicine

Discussion about Dampness

 

Written by Dr. Shouchun Ma

Translated by Jialing Liu

 

说透中医

一一闲云谈湿

湿是什么东西?

湿从哪里来的?怎样形成的?

湿在什么地方?

怎么知道有湿?

怎样防治湿?

这些问题,大家都知道一些,但又是似而非。书上也讲了,你可以一字不漏地背下来,但仍然会是似而非,所以闲云用了“说透”二字。下面一个一个问题的谈。湿有内外之分,本文主要讨论内湿。    希望大家一起讨论,各抒己见。因为湿和我们健康长寿太相关了。

 

What is dampness?

Where does it come from? How does it form?

Where does dampness exist in our body?

How would you know if you have dampness in your body?

How to treat and prevent dampness?

You may answer some of the above questions, getting some idea from textbooks, but you may still not clear with all of them. Let’s have some deep thinking on this. I will discuss all these questions in detail. There are two types of dampness: inside and outside. Here we only mention the inside dampness. It is a very important issue with our longevity. I would like to have you all to join the discussion of this topic.

 

 

湿是什么东西?(一)

湿是体内的一种液体,有毒的液体,呈粘稠状,香港脚抓破的渗出黄色、粘稠,味臭的液体,那就是湿的一种,湿疹渗出液也是湿的一种。湿可以存在于体内任何地方,很难排出。

湿是饮食代谢的产物,但是它又可以致病,因此叫做二级病因。

湿性缠绵,很难彻底治愈。

湿性重浊,常常流注于身体的下半部和骨关节处。

湿能转化为痰。叫痰湿。

湿能与各种病邪和毒素相结合,把它们留在体内,病邪一旦与湿结合,就很难祛掉。比如,湿与寒结合叫寒湿,湿与热结合叫湿热,与风结合叫风湿,与毒结合叫湿毒。与瘀结合叫痰瘀⋯⋯。

西医还没有認识到湿。因此没有类似的病名,亦无相应治法。

What is dampness? (1)

Dampness is a kind of liquid, a toxic liquid in our body. Athlete’s foot with yellow, smelled sticky exudation is one kind of dampness. Exudation of eczema is another type of dampness. Dampness can hide in any place inside of body and it’s hard to get rid of it.

Dampness is a production of diet metabolism which can cause disease. We call it secondary pathogen.

Dampness is lingering and it is hard to be fully treated.

Dampness is heavy turbid, and usually stay in patient’s lower body and joints.

Dampness can transform to phlegm. We call it dampness phlegm.

Dampness can grab with other pathogens or toxins easily, making them stay inside the body, hard to get rid of. For example, dampness combines with cold comes cold dampness; with heat comes heat dampness; with wind comes wind dampness; with toxin calls toxin dampness; with stasis comes stasis dampness, etc.

West medicine hasn’t defined dampness yet. There is no disease named by dampness, nor corresponding treatment.

 

湿从哪里来?(二)

湿从饮食中来,是代谢后应该排出体外的废液,但是没有被排出去。

水饮代谢与五藏六腑有关,而湿的形成特别关系到脾。

脾有两份工作,第一份工作是消化和吸收。第二份工作是把精微物质输送到全身,供给全身的营养,在这个过程中,脾会把废水排到体外,道路也是三焦。或从汗,或从二便,或从涕唾,或从体气,或从呼吸⋯⋯。

如果脾的功能弱了(脾虚),或者你吃得过多。脾就只干第一份工作,而不干第二份工作。于是,湿就停在体内,你就长胖了,就无力了,思维就减慢了,你就衰了!

Where does dampness come from? (2)

Dampness comes from our food and drink. Instead of being out of body, the waste of the metabolism stays in our body forms dampness.

All the organs of our body are involved in our diet metabolism. Spleen plays the most important role with dampness forming.

Spleen does two jobs. First, spleen digests and absorbs, then transports all the essence from food to nourish all over the body. During the transportation, the waste should be excreted through SanJiao (Triple Burner, an organ system regulates the flow of energy through the organs). It can be excreted from sweating, urination, bowl movement, tear, saliva, or through skin or breathing.

If your spleen is week, or you eat too much, your spleen can only do the first job which is digests and absorbs without do the second one job – transportation. Dampness stays in your body. You may gain weight, become weak or frail, and think slow.

 

湿在什么地方?(三)

腹部、肌肉、四肢是湿常驻的地方,(脾主肌肉、脾主四肢,脾主腹)。

此外湿可到达全身各个部位,皮、肉、筋骨、血管、臟腑、头脑,无处不到。湿的通道是三焦。

湿在皮肤,发为搔痒一类皮肤病,在头脑,昏沉困倦;在肌肉,身重;湿痰阻肺,咳嗽哮喘气紧,反复发作;在胃,恶心呕吐,胃胀;在肝,黄疸,恶油,纳呆;在脾,腹痛腹胀,下利便脓血;湿浊在下,阴痒,带下,小便浑浊尿血。如此等等,不可胜数。

湿浊阻滞之处,气不能煦,血不能濡,久之轻则为痰核(囊肿),重则为肿瘤。

还有一点要特别说明,按照《黄帝内经》,湿是可以进入血脉的,因此,心脑血管疾病应该特别重视脾与湿。传统中医治疗胸痛心痹,从来没有离开湿、痰、气滞。

而现代中医在学西医过程中,误把心血管疾病等作瘀血,使用起了活血化瘀的治疗方法,于是丹参、三七等药物应运而生。实际上,西医也并没有把堵塞血管的物质当作瘀血,而是当作脂斑,脂应属中医湿痰浊一类。只有局部损伤出血,血小板突然聚集止血时才出现瘀血。

闲云认为,这个错误迟早是会被发现纠正的,只是代价太大了。

Where does dampness exist in our body? (3)

In TCM, the spleen is in charge of abdomen, muscle, and limbs, and those places are also where dampness likes to stay.

Beside those places, dampness can stay almost everywhere in our body, for example, skin, muscle, tendon, bone, blood vessel, organs, head and brain, you name it. Sanjiao is the pathway of dampness. Dampness can cause various symptoms, such as, but not limited to the following:

  • If dampness stays at the skin, itching may occur
  • If dampness stays in the head and brain, you may feel drowsy and sleepy
  • If dampness stays in the muscle, you may feel heavy
  • If dampness blocks the lung, coughing and whizzing may occur repeatedly
  • If dampness stays in the stomach, it may cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach bloating
  • If dampness stays in the liver, jaundice, poor appetite and aversion to fatty food may occur
  • If dampness stays in the spleen, stomachache, stomach bloating, diarrhea with blood or pus may occur
  • If dampness stays in the lower body, pudendal itchy, vaginal discharge, turbid urine or bloody urine may occur

 

When dampness blocks an area, the body qi can’t warm it, and the blood can’t nourish it. Cysts or tumors will be the result if the dampness blocks too long.

One thing that should be pointed out is that according to “Huangdineijing”, an ancient TCM classic work, the dampness is able to get in and stay inside vessels. Based on this theory, we need to consider the spleen as well as dampness when treat cardiovascular disease. In fact, dampness, phlegm, and qi stagnation are always the pathogenesis of this kind of disease.

Some TCM doctors who study western medicine believe that blood stasis is the cause of cardiovascular disease, which leads them to use herbs DanSheng and SanQi to quick the blood and transform the stasis. However, this belief is due to a lack of grasp on western medicine concepts. Even western medicine doesn’t consider cardiovascular disease as blood stasis, but plaque build-up in vessels. In TCM, we consider plaque build-up as dampness or phlegm. Blood stasis happens during the process of hemostasis after injury while the temporary blockage formed by planet plug.

Dr. Ma believes that this error will be recognized sooner or later, but it will come at the cost of years of mistreatment.

 

怎么知道有湿?(四)

湿不难辨别,一眼望去便知大概。形体虚胖者,眼泡浮肿者,眼红黄者,头面油腻红亮者,舌体胖大有齿印者,舌苔厚腻者,均为湿象,有的病人一身湿气味,有经验的医生一闻到体气便知道。

湿重的病人,常流梦口水,思维迟缓,一看书就想睡觉,身体困重,没有参加运动的欲望,开了头也坚持不下去。人很懒散。

湿在体内总想找出路,向外,皮肤是一个出口,因此有的人经常皮肤搔痒渗液,多走几次那里就成了自然通道,体内湿重,就往那里跑,所以说湿性反复缠绵。同理往脚趾跑,往下身跑,流梦口水等等。

要是不跑呢?那就昏沉、疲倦、体重乏力、脘腹胀满、或者哮喘。

湿长期得不到根治,就变成湿热或寒湿病理体质了。一辈子反复缠绵时好时差。诸多慢性病随之而起,癌症也不能避免,寿命肯定缩短。

 

How would you know if you have dampness in your body? (4)

It is not that difficult to distinguish dampness. Even a quick look can help us notice that. Patient may have one or more of the following: puffiness, swollen eyelids, yellow or red sclera, oily bright red face, swollen tongue with teeth mark, sticky tongue fur. Some of the patients come with special body smell which is easy sign for experienced practitioner.

Patients with dampness can also have sleep saliva, slow thinking, drowsiness when reading, heaviness in the body, and no desire to do physical exercise. They may drop activities easily due to feeling tired.

If the dampness moves inside the body, there are several exits. Skin is one of the exits to outside. Patient with this type of dampness will have itchy skin or exudate on and off. After several times, it becomes a natural path of dampness and the skin problem will happen repeatedly. This is the reason why dampness is lingering. Same reason, if the dampness goes downward, symptoms will appear in the vulva or toes; if go upward, sleeping saliva appears.

If the dampness doesn’t move, it will stay inside causing drowsiness, sleepiness, tiredness, heaviness in the body, stomach bloating or abdominal bloating, and wheezing or panting.

Patients with dampness who lack the right treatment can cause permanent physical change to one’s body constitution. Lingering dampness may cause many chronic diseases such as cancer.

 

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