What Is Dampness in the Body and What Does It Mean?

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You know that feeling of being weighed down, sluggish and in a bit of a funk? These issues are actually signs of dampness in the body, according to traditional health philosophies. Imagine if the sticky, sweaty humidity of summer days was lurking inside your digestive system, with no escape from fans or air conditioning.

This buildup of moisture in the body can affect certain areas of the body, making them feel uncomfortable. It can eventually impact many aspects of overall health and well-being, which is why eliminating dampness is so important.

What Is Dampness in the Body?

Dampness is a moist state in the body. Think of dampness as the buildup of humidity and moisture in the body. It’s a heavy, sticky and uncomfortable state for the body, and it can affect many aspects of overall health.

When dampness accumulates in the body, it can affect:

  • energy
  • motivation
  • thinking
  • sinuses
  • digestion
  • weight management
  • joints
  • yeast balance
  • bowel transit time

Dampness occurs when the body doesn’t burn off the moisture that accumulates. Water in the body is usually received by the stomach and absorbed by the spleen. In fact, the spleen is responsible for metabolizing water in the body, but water retention can directly impact spleen function and bodily fluid balance.

What causes dampness in the body? A lack of physical activity and consuming too many damp foods can. Chronic stress, worry and negativity can also affect your body’s ability to metabolize water properly.

Once the digestive system becomes a moist environment, the dampness can move to other areas.

With dietary and lifestyle changes, you can help to balance bodily dampness.

Dampness vs. Dryness

The goal is to find a balance between dampness and dryness to find homeostasis. Too much of either one disrupts that balance. Here’s a breakdown of how each body state is different:


  • Moist environment
  • Causes sluggishness in the body
  • Can affect energy, stools, mucus production, digestion and weight management
  • Often comes from lack of physical activity and eating too many damp foods, like dairy and wheat products


  • A form of overheating
  • More common as we get older
  • Can directly affect the skin, hair and eyes
  • May affect digestion, hormones and more
  • Often comes from excessive intake of “dry” foods, like whole grains, animal meat, roasted vegetables and spicy foods

Damp Foods to Stop Eating

For starters, one of the main culprits in dampness is overeating. When you consume too much, your body has trouble digesting all of the food, which can affect bodily functions and lead to an imbalance of moisture in the body.

There are certain foods that often contribute to dampness more than others. Greasy, spicy and sweet foods can boost excess moisture in the digestive system.

To understand the role of foods in dampness, know that there are two types of dampness that occur in the body: damp-cold and damp-heat. Some foods contribute to a cold wetness in the digestive system, while others create a humid environment. Eating too many raw fruits and vegetables, for example, can lead to damp-cold, while consumption of greasy and refined foods can cause damp-heat.

  • Dairy products, including milk, cheese, ice cream and milk powder (yogurt may be the exception, as many people tend to tolerate it better than dairy foods)
  • Sugary foods
  • Refined and processed starches
  • Wheat products
  • Baked goods and cereals
  • Greasy and fried foods
  • Pork and rich fatty meats
  • Excessive cold, raw foods
  • Cold foods and drinks
  • Bananas
  • Roasted peanuts, including peanut butter
  • Digestive irritants, like nightshades and hot peppers
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Concentrated fruit juices, especially orange juice and tomato juice

What foods should you eat to balance dampness? It’s helpful to eat foods that are easily digested and help to fight moisture in the body. Some of the best foods to eat for balancing dampness include:

  • Cooked foods, like soups and stews
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Goat’s and sheep’s milk
  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy, non-greasy fats
  • Kimchi and sauerkraut
  • Warming spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and cumin
  • Vegetables that break down moisture, like leeks, scallions and radishes
  • Modest amounts of yogurt or kefir, while limiting other dairy products

Remember to avoid overconsumption by keeping your portions small and simplifying your meals. This will allow your digestive system to catch up and help to balance the moisture in the body.

Supplements to Help

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a warming spice. Our Turmeric Capsules are made with an organic blend of turmeric root, black pepper, ashwagandha and other herbs to maximize the beneficial effects.

2. Probiotics

Probiotics support healthy digestive function and healthy elimination. This is important to “keep things moving along.” Our Ancient Probiotics - Gut Restore capsules offer a daily serving of diverse probiotics and warming, nourishing herbs including turmeric, frankincense and triphala fruit.

3. Bone Broth Protein Powder

Our Bone Broth Protein Powder makes it easy to create nutritious, warming soups and stews, without having to make your own true stock from the connective tissue and bone marrow of animals. It’s warming, nourishing and provides collagen type II (which inherently features chondroitin, glucosamine and hyaluronic acid) and 19 amino acids.

What else can you do to help balance dampness in the body? Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Daily exercise with light sweating
  • Tongue scraping
  • Cupping
  • Acupuncture
  • Stress relievers, like walks outdoors, yoga and meditation

Other Considerations

You should always consult your health care professional before starting any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including using dietary supplements. Always follow label directions and suggested use guidelines.

Final Thoughts

  • According to traditional health philosophies, dampness in the body occurs when moisture builds up in the body, including the digestive system, and can cause overall sluggishness in the body. Eventually, it can affect the spleen and more.
  • Dampness can impact the body in many areas, including energy levels, weight management, digestion, bowel transit time and more.
  • To balance moisture in the body, focus on avoiding damp foods (including dairy and wheat products, greasy foods and fatty meats), eating foods that can balance dampness (like warming spices, soups, stews and steamed vegetables), engaging in daily exercise, tongue scraping and reducing stress.

Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet and Collagen Diet.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Axe nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.