Nutrition Guidelines for Damp Heat

In TCM, dampness and phlegm develop when digestion and fluid metabolism are sluggish. This can obstruct the movement of Qi, eventually creating heat, which combines with the pre-existing dampness and phlegm. To address this, avoiding rich, congesting, and heating foods is essential. To optimize digestion, it is best to eat small, simply prepared meals, with an emphasis on cooked food. To cool the heat, small amounts of raw food and vegetable juices can be included. Protein that is vegetable sourced is preferable, because animal sources of protein can be both warming and congesting. Pungent flavours like mint and basil help to disperse congested fluids, whereas overly rich, oily or sweet foods overwhelm the digestive system, and should be avoided.

To resolve damp heat, the ratio of food groups should be as follows:

20-30% complex carbohydrates, especially rice, barley, millet

50-60% vegetables

20% protein

Foods that Resolve Damp Heat

rice, rye, millet, wheat, barley

celery, carrots, spinach, swiss chard, eggplant, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, peas, cauliflower, asparagus, watercress, arugula, lettuce, radish, daikon radish, alfalfa sprouts, shitake mushrooms, chrysanthemum, bamboo shoots, amaranth leaves purslane, kelp

lemon, cranberries, watermelon, persimmon

mung beans, adzuki beans, tofu, tempeh

green tea, chrysanthemum tea (unsweetened), peppermint tea, water

foods to Restrict or Avoid

alcohol, greasy or oily food, deep fried food

cheese, sugar, highly processed food

fatty meats, dairy, eggs, shrimp, peanuts

chilies, cinnamon, garlic, mustard, coffee, excessive amounts of salt

chocolate, ice cream or smoothies, iced drinks



Clinical Handbook of Internal Medicine, Vol. 2. MacLean & Lyttleton. University of Western Sydney: Australia. 2002.

Chinese Dietary Therapy. Liu, J. Churchill Livingston: Edinburgh.1995.

The Healing Cuisine of China. Zhao & Ellis. Healing Arts Press: Vermont. 1998


This fact sheet is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is meant to complement rather than substitute for a consultation with a qualified TCM practitioner.