This past weekend, my son and his cousins assembled this lovely gingerbread house kit that we got at Trader Joe’s. They ate most of it shortly afterwards. We also ate chocolate coins, pumpkin bread, cookies, cake and snacks all day. The kids don’t normally get all this sugar but we usually let them have a few more treats during the holiday season.
I was looking at the remnants of the gingerbread house this morning and it made me think about how we manage and treat an excess of sweets consumption in Chinese medicine. Of course, the best thing to do is not to eat all the sweets, but let’s be realistic. There are some people who exercise a lot of self control even during the holidays, but the rest of us indulge and then deal with the consequences afterwards. Fortunately, acupuncture can help with this.
Sugar, in Chinese medicine, causes a condition which we call “Damp.” Damp can range from issues like edema and mild water retention to more substantial conditions like phlegm. Although these are normal physical reactions to stimuli, chronic damp and phlegm conditions in the body can cause many issues. I’ll address some of those issues in a future blog post, but for now I’ll focus on how sugar and holiday treats cause damp.
Sugar, and many other foods like wheat and dairy, cause inflammation inside your digestive system. Inflammation is a defense mechanism in your body used to fight infection or injury before starting the healing process. It is a normal response, but when it is present for long periods of time, the symptoms of inflammation might cause some distress. One of these symptoms is a buildup of fluid, and this is what we call Damp. Over time, too much damp can slow down your digestion, making it difficult for you to assimilate your food or maintain regular bowel habits. Without proper nutrition you may become tired more easily, and sluggish digestion may cause physical discomfort.
The good news is that acupuncture can help. Many patients come in with these issues and I work with them to stimulate and heal their digestive systems. These treatments, along with foods that I suggest, help patients get their digestion on track. This increases energy and vitality, as well as reduces cravings for more damp-causing foods.
How about you? Do you feel like your digestive system could use a little support? Come in for a visit and see how acupuncture can help you.