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Home > Education > Zang Fu > Damp-Heat Injures Spleen

Damp-Heat Injures Spleen
(damp-heat in the Spleen and Stomach)

From "Zang Fu Syndromes," by McDonald and Penner


External Perverse Damp-Heat invades SP and ST causing failure of SP's functions of transformation and transportation.

SP Qi Xu or SP Yang Xu leads to Damp Stagnation which can transform into Heat. Dampness and Heat combine to stagnate in SP / ST.

Dampness and Heat are generated internally by long-term overindulgence in alcohol and fatty sweet foods.

Clinical Manifestations
Anorexia Lassitude
Abdominal distention and discomfort Scanty, dark urine
Suffocating sensation in the chest Maybe thirst or thirst with no desire to drink
Epigastric mass Diarrhea with foul smell or Constipation
Maybe abdominal pain on palpation Fever
Yang jaundice (sclera and skin are bright yellow) Sweet sticky taste or bitter taste in mouth
Dislike of oily foods Nausea / vomiting

T: Pink
C: Thick, yellow and greasy (maybe sticky)
P: Soft and rapid


Damp-Heat in SP / ST almost always affects LIV / GB causing Damp-Heat in LIV / GB. In fact the classical association of the color yellow with the SP derives from the color of Yang jaundice (bright yellow "like the skin of a mandarin orange") which is due to Damp-Heat obstructing the normal movement of bile - a function of LIV / GB.

Associated Western Conditions
Acute icteric hepatitis Acute cholecystitis
Acute pancreatitis Cirrhosis of the liver
Differential Diagnosis

Damp-Heat in SP / ST is usually very closely associated with Damp-Heat in LIV / GB. The purpose of differentiation is to determine the extent of LIV / GB involvement. For example, as LIV / GB becomes more involved, the sweet sticky taste may become more bitter, the soft and rapid pulse may become slippery and rapid and then wiry and rapid.

Damp-Heat in SP / ST may be differentiated from Cold-Damp Distresses SP by the classic differentiation of Heat and Cold.

Treatment Principle

Clear Heat and Benefit Dampness (diuresis).

Common Acupuncture Points

For points related to treatment of LIV / GB Damp-Heat such as jaundice, see Damp-Heat in LIV / GB.

In addition to the points dealt with under Damp-Heat in LIV / GB, the following points are useful for Damp-Heat in SP / ST.

ST-44 / Neiting Cools Heat in ST and removes obstruction from Intestines: for Damp-Heat diarrhea and dysentery.
LI-11 / Quchi Cools Heat and alleviates Dampness: for Damp-Heat dysentery or skin conditions (e.g. eczema).
SP-9 / Yinlingquan Disperses Dampness: more used for Damp-Heat than Cold-Damp - for Damp-Heat diarrhea, dysentery, vaginal discharge or urinary disorders.
ST-36 / Zusanli Strengthens SP and disperses Dampness.
REN-12 / Zhongwan Regulates ST Qi and disperses Dampness.
UB-20 / Pishu Used more in Cold-Damp to reinforce Xu SP.

When the treatment of Cold-Damp is compared to Damp-Heat, note that points with reinforcing actions are used extensively for Cold-Damp because it is basically a Xu condition of SP (associated with SP Yang Xu). For Damp-Heat, reducing needling is used and points selected have mainly reducing actions such as Cooling Heat or Dispersing Dampness. In short, Cold-Damp Distressing SP is basically Xu, while Damp-Heat Injures SP is basically Shi (excess or replete).

Damp-Heat Diarrhea: Damp-Heat Dysentery:
ST-25 / Tianshu

UB-25 / Dachangshu

*ST-36 / Zusanli

*ST-44 / Neiting

*SP-9 / Yinlingquan

LI-4 / Hegu

ST-25 / Tianshu

ST-37 / Shangjushu

LI-4 / Hegu

*ST-44 / Neiting

*LI-11 / Quchi

*SP-9 / Yinlingquan

*Points which have a specific action on Damp-Heat or Dampness.

Common Herbal Formulae

Yin Chen Wu Ling San / Artemisia Yinchenhao and Five Ingredient Powder with Poria

Xiao Feng San / Eliminate Wind Powder from "True Lineage"

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