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Let’s talk about damp and swelling bodies in summer: a Chinese medicine perspective

       Living in a fast-paced city usually makes people ignore their health problems, leading them to develop symptoms that increase the dampness in their bodies and result in edema and obesity, common health problems for modern people regardless of gender or age. There is a Chinese medicine saying in the Zhizhen Yao Dalun (the Great Theory on Crucial Principles) of the Suwen (the Basic Questions) of the Huangdi Neijing (the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor): “All dampness with swelling and fullness is ascribed to the spleen.” Abnormal spleen and stomach functions, as well as spleen and stomach failures, are due to the dampness occurring inside the body or in the outside environment, resulting in edema and obesity. A protruding abdomen and hip and thigh swelling easily occur in this body type. In particular, for severe cases of swelling legs, indentations occur when pressed, which is due to downward dampness.

       Dr. Pin-Yu Chao, an acupuncturist at the Taipei City Hospital’s Linsen Chinese Medicine and Kunming Branches, stated that the idea of “prevention is better than cure” is widely known; therefore, having a proper diet and exercising becomes extremely important in daily life. Besides a balanced diet, other dietary advices include: having a diet with high protein and fiber and low carbohydrates, lipids and salts; slowly chewing and swallowing while eating; staying still after meals and reducing contact with videos or electronic products while sitting or walking to allow spleen and stomach to work for proper energy and blood flow.

       Here is some advice on how to bring positive effects from the environment to the body’s organs through exercise: muscle contracting activities, such as jogging, cycling and swimming to increase energy and blood circulation and ehnace spleen and stomach function. Nowadays, as most people do not have enough time to exercise after their busy work, it is recommended to do fitness exercises such as squats, planks and bridge poses. Yoga is also a great activity to soften the body and extend the meridians. The key is to build a long-term habit in whatever exercises or activities you have chosen to benefit your health.