Damp Damp

Damp is one of the six exterior pathogens (i.e. a quality in the environment or climate which can cause disease). It is the predominant climatic factor in late summer, as summer gives way to autumn and a period of increased humidity. However, it can also occur during other seasons. The concept applies not just to weather or climate, but also to living conditions. Chinese medicine theory states that it can be either exogenous (external) or endogenous (internal) in nature. There are distinct differences between the two.

  • Exogenous Damp invades from outside the body due to climate, frequent or prolonged exposure to water and certain living conditions.
  • Endogenous Damp is a pathological state of water-dampness acculmulation internally, and is usually associated with a failure in the trasnforming and trasnporting functions of the Spleen.

Despite their differences, exterior and interior syndromes can influence one another at the onset of disease, this relates back to the fact that the Spleen is the organ predominantly affected by in TCM theory. Exterior invasion can affect the Spleen’s transformation functions thus causing an internal accumulation. This internal retention of water-dampness leads to Spleen-Yang deficiency, thus making a person more prone to external invasion.


  • Yin in nature and tends to injure Yang
  • It is sticky and heavy
  • It moves downwards
  • Difficult to get rid of
  • Causes repeated attacks
  • May last for prolonged periods
  • Creates stagnation – Particularly of Qi and Blood
  • Associated with turbidity and bad odours, pus and other fluid discharges

Symptoms and Signs:

Clinical manifestation of symptoms for an exterior syndrome will vary depending upon which other pathogenic factor(s) are associated, but common manifestations include the following.

  • Heaviness in the head and body
  • Strong body aching
  • Unclear thinking or ‘foggy’ head
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea or loose stool
  • Oedema and swelling – particularly affecting the joints as in Bi-Syndrome
  • Respiratory conditions with copious sputum or phlegm
  • Fungal infections, sores and carbuncles with pus and skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis
  • Inflammatory infections that can affect many parts of the body such as Lungs, Liver, Gall Bladder, Urinary Bladder and Intestines.

In cases of internal Damp accumulation in the body, similar symptoms are observed, but the onset is usually more gradual, rather than sudden and often includes the following.