Updates to Covid-19 Clinic Policies (Check regularly)

June 21, 2020

I’ve been seeing a few people the past two weeks-our profession has been given the green light by the Health Department (with appropriate stipulations as to hygiene, PPE and contact). Our interaction is categorized as “medium hazard” in phase 2.  For the curious, you can read all about it here: https://www.healthvermont.gov/sites/default/files/documents/pdf/Phase-2-Outpatient-Procedures.pdf Basically, because we cannot conduct business 6 feet apart, the main thing is that masks are on all the time.  In addition, I am limiting the office to one visitor at a time, and alternating rooms so that each room may be aired out and disinfected between people for at least 1.5 hours.  Other measures are as previously noted.  Currently, I am only working on Tuesday and Thursday, and sometime Saturday.  That will likely change later in July.  Please use email to reach out for an appointment if you’re ready to come in–I’m ready to have you here!

May 12, 2020

It’s been a while since an update, mostly because the situation on the ground hasn’t changed much.  I have received a number of inquiries about re-opening and scheduling though, so it’s a good time to consider how to do this.  First off, Vermont Health Department recommendations are still that we remain closed.  Specifically: “The Agency of Human Services (AHS) today clarified that the Phase 1 of reopening the healthcare sector includes elective procedures in an outpatient settings only. Acupuncturists, chiropractors, physical therapists, dentists, and many others must remain closed until sector-specific guidance is available. AHS has advised that these businesses should not assume reopening can occur after May 15th and emphasized that Phase 2 guidance for reopening these businesses will be forthcoming.”

That’s the legal part.  I am thinking the earliest I might be up and running is June, and still not sure. The medical part is a rather long discussion, but to simplify it, our greatest risk of exposure to the virus has to do with the time spent in an area in which transmission could occur.  Although every step can be taken to reduce the risk of transmission, the time it takes to have a treatment is not short which underlies my abundant caution in proceeding.  Vermont, in general, though is doing GREAT!  Anyway, I will repeat what I said in my first post: “I would suggest that going into any “uncontrolled” environment should be avoided by most of us in the near future, and only when necessary. That is what is behind all the shutdowns.  In between uncontrolled and completely sterile environments are what I would call “controlled” environments, and we are doing our very best to make this office one of those, not a locus or vector for spreading illness.”

At this point, it’s probably worth reviewing my first post for the hygienic details of how I hope to achieve this.  Since then, I have decided on several additional actions to help.  I will be using disposable non-woven sheets for each person—these are similar to mask material.  And we will all be wearing masks.  Appointments will be staggered so that a minimum of 30 minutes is allowed between room occupancy, during which time I will use an ozone generator to disinfect the air.   You will know which room to go to when you arrive, and not wait in the waiting room—just proceed to the restroom, wash hands thoroughly and go to your assigned room.  Please bring a bag for your clothes and put your outerwear in it immediately, and then you will be in your acuwear for the session! This will keep the outside outside as much as possible.  We will need to complete scheduling and such either in the room, or via email, etc.  For payment, I would prefer to limit using credit cards, but they of course can be cleaned, and checks can be put in a box for days (I rarely go to the bank more than twice a month anyway) but all that being said, it’s a great idea to learn how to use Venmo.  It’s a free way to do bank transfers with two layers of separation.   I am obviously going to have a reduced number of visits a day, most likely limited to 4-5 at most.  I am also, as of today, still contemplating how much time I want to leave between both individual visits and morning/afternoon sessions to maximize air cleaning.  All of this is so we can all feel as safe as possible.  So, scheduling will be fairly inflexible timewise unfortunately.  A third variable that I am extremely frustrated by is the ridiculously slow development of guidelines in general, and testing guidelines in particular.  Just last week (and Vermont is doing well with this) the Health Department issued guidelines saying that anyone who had mild symptoms, or was exposed to someone sick for some length of time could be authorized to get a test.  (Testing and tracing) Meanwhile, in the State of Washington, they are still working on developing appropriate guidelines for the cadence of testing essential personnel.  I have called and written the Governor’s office and Health Department several times with no response trying to find out if any plans to do so here are even in the works.  Any provider, such as myself, a dentist, a PT, etc. who is working in close proximity to people for even a shorter length of time than we work together should be regularly tested to rule out asymptomatic transmission.  Truly, this does upset me greatly, as it was probably my first thought in early March even before sequestering.  Maybe anyone who reads this can send an email to Governor Scott? Currently, the plans on reopening safely revolve around assessing any uptick in cases and hospitalizations, not assessing possible spread through random testing. This will leave a 2-3 week lag time at least.  I know I’m not supposed to be a policy guy, but this is just common sense being ignored.  Anyway, check back later in the month to see about scheduling—I will have picked available days and times by then!

March 23. The clinic is now closed for in person treatment.  I will be working to establish protocols for either telephone or computer based consultations in the near future.  Many of my herbal suppliers are currently back ordered as manufacturers in California are on shut down.

March 24.  I will be available for consultations by phone, email, and perhaps zoom (but I’m no Pro!). It is not too likely I will work from the office more than a couple of slots/week, but can easily swing by to retrieve formulas (when they are available of course!) if you’re ill.  Also, it is not hard to refill constitutional formulas with some notice, and quite safe for me to leave herbs outside at my home, but not at the office.  For consultations (other than refills), I will charge $120/hour, with a $25 minimum, and use a timer to be fair. This will hold for email exchanges as well.  Therefore, it is best to collect your thoughts, write them out and send them along.  It is also fine to talk–it just will take more time. As you know, I am inclined to deliberate in order to get things right.  A good idea is to practice taking selfies of your tongue!  If you are concerned about illness, please check your temperature at rest. Also, concerning illness, it is probably best to communicate visually with Facetime, Zoom, etc. as a lot is revealed by observation.  Payment wise, I encourage folks to use Venmo, which is free for everyone concerned.  I wish there was a way to do pulses at a distance! OK, thanks!

March 25.  Governor Scott issued a shelter in place order today which holds till April 15th. Stay sane and safe! And retrieving and formulas you may need is an essential activity for sure.  As above, this will mostly be conducted from my side porch!

Covid-19 Clinic and Illness Information

Current Approaches to Corona Virus here at Full Spectrum Health Care

This is a difficult juncture for us all, and it is important that we all do our personal best to remain healthy, and to reduce the health risk to others.  It is also clear that until there is adequate and easily accessible testing for the virus we will remain somewhat in the dark, and even then gaps in knowledge about who is ill will remain.  It does not make sense to opt for paralysis however, rather for an abundance of educated caution.  To add more clarity to that, I would suggest that going into any “uncontrolled” environment should be avoided by most of us in the near future, and only when necessary. That is what is behind all the shutdowns.  In between uncontrolled and completely sterile environments are what I would call “controlled” environments, and we are doing our very best to make this office one of those, not a locus or vector for spreading illness. The most up to date studies show that the virus can linger in aerosol form for up to three hours, can remain on solid surfaces for up to three days, and porous ones for up to 24 hours (like cardboard, cloth, etc.)  Given the 5-14 day latency period, we cannot count on people not being infected and contagious even when they are appearing well. So, it should be apparent that no environment can be guaranteed to be sterile, although we can do our best to be as hygienic as possible. Essentially, here we are doing everything we can to practice vigilant hygiene, short of sterilization. Clean linens for each client, and handwashing between contact with all people and devices, much like one would expect in a medical clinic.  Every day we are cleaning doorknobs, light switches, sink faucets, toilet flushers, arms of chairs, hard surfaces, glass, pens, etc. with Clorox wipes and/or alcohol.  We have added touchless soap dispensers–and please use paper towels to be disposed of in foot operated bins. There is a hospital grade HEPA/UV filter running all day, and each night when the office is empty it runs a sanitizing ozone session for several hours.  All clients are asked to wash their hands upon entering the office, and we have the capability of taking your temperature on the forehead should there be any concern of fever.  If you are sick and possibly infectious, we ask you to please not come into the office, with no charge for last minute cancellations.   It is in all of our best interests not to bring any infectious condition, cold, flu, or otherwise into this space.  Obviously, some details might be a little hard to discern during allergy season (it’s already starting) for sneezing, but everyone should know their own history. Fever and dry cough are absolutely distinguishing variables. I will be using disposable non-woven sheets for each person—these are similar to mask material.  And we will all be wearing masks.  Appointments will be staggered so that a minimum of 30 minutes is allowed between room occupancy, during which time I will use an ozone generator to disinfect the air.   You will know which room to go to when you arrive, and not wait in the waiting room—just proceed to the restroom, wash hands thoroughly and go to your assigned room.  Please bring a bag for your clothes and put your outerwear in it immediately, and then you will be in your acuwear for the session! This will keep the outside outside as much as possible.  We will need to complete scheduling and such either in the room, or via email, etc.  For payment, I would prefer to limit using credit cards, but they of course can be cleaned, and checks can be put in a box for days (I rarely go to the bank more than twice a month anyway) but all that being said, it’s a great idea to learn how to use Venmo.  It’s a free way to do bank transfers with two layers of separation.   Please fill out all sections of the check in advance and I will do the total for you (to limit pen sharing). I am obviously going to have a reduced number of visits a day, most likely limited to 4-5 at most, at least in the next several months.

I would suggest that it is most prudent for anyone who is either vulnerable, lives with or is in regular contact with someone who is vulnerable to sequester themselves as the CDC and other health organizations have suggested.  To be more specific, the vulnerable include those in poor health, those taking immunosuppressant drugs (prednisone, etc.) the elderly, those with chronic lung and/or heart conditions, etc.  Likely, this is a conversation folks have already had, but please check if you’re unsure.  Healthwise, the more vulnerable should shield themselves from even common infections, because in the case they contract covid-19, it will be all the more difficult to fight off easily.  I recommend that those with a history of lung disorders do use a prophylactic herbal regimen, at least until warm weather reaches us.

So far, the uptick in cases hasn’t appeared, but from what we know the infection lasts 10-14 days, and then four consecutive negative tests one day apart each will confirm recovery.  That means a minimum of 3 weeks.  It is quite possible that with exposure, any of us may have to suspend practice for two weeks to be safe and up to one month if sick.  And that is only once testing is widely available–this is the current reality, and we should do our best to avoid that!

Our plan is to stay healthy, be proactive, and do whatever we can to support the health and well-being of our clients.   There are options in the herbal pharmacopeia that can help to prevent and/or slow the onset of the illness, and if contracted, make for a more complete and thorough resolution.

Wellness plans for all should include enough sleep, good food and water, avoidance of excess alcohol, sugar, and regular exercise outdoors if possible.  I am available to do herbal consultation if you are ill, but not in person! Also, I am not able to mail or deliver packages, unless you have no available alternative options such as friends, family, or neighbors.   I should add that the herbal treatment for this disorder is not uniform.  It depends on the phase of illness, the extent of your fever, your age, your medical history and your other complicating symptoms.  But that is something that Chinese herbal medicine excels at, so do not shy away from taking advantage of our deep history of managing the progression of and recovery from illness.

If you are concerned about monitoring your health at home, here is some advice.  Get a good thermometer and measure your temperature morning and evening for 2-3 days.  Consider this your baseline.  Average is 97.5, give or take.  More than 2 degrees up is cause for concern.  Also, for those concerned about their lung health, buy an inexpensive pulse oximeter (you can get one for about $30!).  If your oxygenation is below 95%, you may have some cause for concern, but once again, get it soon, and learn your baseline.   Below 92% is reason for hospitalization. The old standard was 90, but that’s been updated. These are the exact symptoms which matter for either avoiding and/or seeking treatment for the severe version of the illness.

Here is a little more on the illness itself to consider should you fall ill.  You may think of there being 4 courses it can take: mild, moderate, severe, and pneumonia.  Any individual may experience only one, or possibly several of these versions, and at different phases.  For example, one individual may go through the entire illness in a “moderate” fashion, while another goes straight from mild to pneumonia.  That is why vigilance about your condition should you fall ill is so important.

I feel that the information coming from China is very detailed and valuable about the course and treatment of this virus right now, and as with every other aspect of this epidemic our health system is a little behind the curve.

For simplicity’s sake, we can characterize as follows:

Asymptomatic- exposed, no symptoms, still requires sequestration

Mild- Fever < 100, sore throat, dry cough, maybe aches, chills, white tongue coat, some fatigue

Moderate- Fever > 100, dry cough may become noisy, inability to breathe deeply and likely some wheezing, thicker tongue coat, profound fatigue, perhaps strong chills

Severe/Pneumonia- This is hospital stuff; exhaustion, chest blockage, bowel incontinence, etc.

As you can see, “mild” is not so mild, and moderate is like a pretty bad flu.

In addition, it seems that variants have been reported than start as a “cold” and then progress, so any upper respiratory illness should be treated with respect and caution until it clears.

Some non-TCM advice from the Naturopathic world includes the following suggestions for supplements in preventative mode:

  1. Vitamin C: 3,000 milligrams (or more) daily, in divided doses. (Might be too much for some folk’s tummies—try only 1000)
  2. Vitamin D3: 2,000 IU daily. (Start with 5,000 IU/day for two weeks, then reduce to 2,000)
  3. Magnesium: 400 mg daily (in citrate, malate, glycinate)
  4. Zinc: 20 mg daily
  5. Selenium: 100 mcg (micrograms) daily

In addition, if you are in fact ill, I (and now everyone else) would recommend using acetaminophen as preferred fever and pain relief. This is because NSAIDS may reduce your immune response slightly.  If you are taking NSAIDS for another medical condition, do not stop them, but do be careful about using your fever as a guideline as it will be thrown off by them.  You may add 100-200 mg of Co-Q10/day as it may help get more oxygen to your cells.  Reduce food intake, and increase water, electrolytes and simple sugars/carbs.  A shortcut is something like Powerade- or make a healthier version.  Consider getting a tub of some healthy exercise formula, which is some blend of carbs/protein/electrolytes.  I personally recommend a blend of Orgain (available at Costco and online) and Ribose powder, but there are many forms.  Emergen-C is good stuff for electrolytes, if you can get it! However, honestly, in a pinch when you’re ill, Powerade is fine, as are any of the exercise gel packs (Clif, etc.) for carbs and electrolytes. That’s all for now, and check back for updates!

Nutrition and Constitution

Nutrition From the Perspective of Chinese Medicine

                                                                                    Stewart Cohen, Ph.D., L.Ac.

**Oriental Medicine recognizes individual differences with nutrition.

The most significant aspect of nutrition in Oriental Medicine is that individual differences are considered. Instead of overall prescriptions for health based on statistical analysis of groups, quantities of calories, protein, fat, etc., the overall balance of yin and yang is the goal for each person.

**Nutrition is viewed by looking at a persons constitutional tendencies.

With individual differences in mind, people are often grouped within a constitutional type.  There are a variety of schemes for constitutional typing, and none of them should be held up as an absolute.  People may also exhibit characteristics of one or more types within a scheme. One of several paradigms that are used in Chinese Medicine will be presented here.

**Foods have a variety of tastes and properties that are responsible for their actions on the body.

This idea is very important in analyzing foods, and their effects on the person. I have included a short section on properties and tastes that help exemplify actions in the body, but I have not listed the properties of the individual foods.

**Different foods influence the health differently, depending on the constitution of the person.

This last idea links up the second and third to yield dietary guidelines specific for each type.  In addition, there are specific foods which may be applicable for certain disorders.

**There are some ideas about eating that apply to most everyone.  It is self-evident that the overall health of the digestive system is necessary for proper digestion of the foods to achieve the desired balance in each person. The following are generalities that can help our digestive health.

-Wait until being hungry to eat, but waiting too long injures the stomach qi.  Eat some breakfast.

-One should not get too full or eat too much.

-One should drink when thirsty, but not too excessively.

-Frequent small meals are better than fewer large meals.

-Eating too much food injures the qi, because the fullness obstructs the circulation of qi.

-One should not sleep immediately after eating or eat too much food at night.

-All meats should be thoroughly cooked.

-Make eating a time for eating. Respect your stomach!  Try to eat in peace, and avoid working, arguing, driving, or walking around during your meals.  The way you eat often matters more than what you eat.


Classically, there are five flavors: sour, sweet, bitter, salty and pungent. If a food lacks all of the above flavors, it is considered to be bland, and also has specific properties. The pungent taste is the sharp or acrid taste present in foods like peppermint, onions and cayenne.  Note that cayenne and peppermint are both pungent, but cayenne is hot, and peppermint is cool. [It is interesting to note that while we have identified the salty, bitter, sweet and sour flavors in classical taste research, recent taste research in Japan has identified a brain region specific to the taste of “Umami,” which is pungent.]

A. The Pungent or Acrid Flavor: This flavor enters the lungs, is Yang in nature, disperses and expands the qi. Consuming an excess of pungent food will injure the qi, and eventually cause contraction (a yang/yin reversal).

B. The Sweet Flavor: This flavor enters the Spleen/Pancreas, is Yang in nature, tonifies and harmonizes the qi, and slows down the mind/heart. Overconsumption leads to stagnation of qi and mental sluggishness.  This can cause injury to the bones and teeth, as well as hair loss.

C. The Bitter Flavor: This flavor enters the Heart, is Yin in nature, draining heat downward and drying dampness. Excess consumption leads to excess dryness.

D. The Sour Flavor: This flavor enters the Liver, is Yin in nature, and is astringent. Excess consumption leads to thickening of the skin and contraction of the tendons.

E. The Salty Flavor: This flavor enters the Kidneys, is Yin in nature, cleanses the body, softens hardness (like tumors and cysts) and nourishes the yin.  Excess consumption injures and clouds the blood vessels, causing clogging. Eventually, over consumption can lead to hypertension, which is a yin/yang reversal.

F. The Bland Flavor:  This flavor is Yang in nature, promotes urination and leeches out dampness.


This category of properties includes the classifications of cold, cool, neutral, warm and hot. Sometimes the property of aromatic is included as well.


A constitution is a tendency.  This concept is similar to what is called a miasma in homeopathy.  Constitution is often hereditary, while disease is not.  A constitution is not an illness, but when a person is sick, they will tend to accent their constitution.  Logically, constitutions are often defined partially by how someone gets sick when they do.  For instance, some people get headaches with colds, some get fatigued, some have copious phlegm, and some get hot sinus infections.  These all reflect their constitutions to some extent, as well as the nature of the pathogen.  Each person may be described by one or more of these constitutions, and can have varying amounts of each.

I. Healthy Constitution.

Good weight, strength, health, abundant hair with luster and moisture. Skin has a radiance, eyes radiate spirit from within. Person feels light and energetic. There is no excessive thirst, and it is easy to tolerate hot and cold. Pulse is harmonious and moderate, has even speed and moderate force. Tongue is pale red with slight white/yellow coat. Even-tempered with healthy appetite, regular bowels, and peaceful sleep. Gets sick by catching colds from external pathogens, or sudden illnesses.  These people will thrive on a balanced diet, and have greater tolerance levels for imbalances than people who have an imbalanced constitution.  There are no special recommendations.

II. Yin Deficiency Constitution.

Tends towards being skinny, may be taller than average. Tongue will be redder with little coat and sometimes cracks. They may manifest flushed cheeks, redness or maybe turbidity in the eyes. Also may have dry scratchy eyes and blurred vision, sometimes with gold floaters. Easily thirsts, prefers cold fluids, has aversion to heat, and sometimes has hot hands and feet. Tends towards dry stools and darker urine. Pulse is thinner, more wiry and faster than normal. Angers more easily than most, and is often anxious or irritable.  Feels more energetic at night, maybe even sleepless. Although this is a constitutional tendency, it can often manifest subsequent to serious illness or blood loss (i.e., menorrhagia) or far too much sex. When sick, this person always develops heat signs and excessive thirst.

Overall climate: Hot and Dry

To avoid: Hot and drying foods and flavors, deep-fried foods, ginger, scallions, garlic, chili and black pepper.

To increase: Cooling and moistening foods. Fruits: bananas, plums, pears, strawberries, lemon, pineapple, watermelon and tomatoes. Meats: eggs, pigeon, duck, pork, rabbit, crab, jellyfish, turtle, clams. Grains: wheat, barley.  Vegetables:  Mung beans, aduki beans, soybean milk, tofu, celery, spinach, radish.  Other: mushrooms, salt and green tea.

III. Yang Deficiency Constitution.

Overweight, face lacks luster or is shiny white, skin is flabby or flaccid, clear eyes, with pale lips. There is often a bland taste in the mouth, aversion to cold with cold extremities, and cold in stomach and back. Easily fatigued, often quiet and introverted. Tongue is pale, moist and flabby with tooth marks and a white coat.  Deep, fine, or forceless pulse, watery stools, clear and profuse urine, prefers warm liquids. Easily becomes sick from cold, and manifests cold signs.

Overall climate: Cool and Damp

To avoid: Oily, rich foods: bananas, milk, too much cold or uncooked foods, large salads.

To increase: Warming and invigorating foods. Rice, peanuts, yams, chives, mustard greens, carrots, chilies, garlic, black pepper, onion, walnuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, betel nuts, ginger, alcohol, cocoa, coffee, goat’s milk, chicken, quail, beef, lamb, shrimp, mussels, fish.

IV. Qi Deficiency Constitution

Could be fat or thin, but more are thin. Face can be pale or yellowish, eyes lack spirit, lips are pale, tongue is pale with tooth marks, but not flabby or moist. Easily fatigued. Has an aversion to both cold and heat.  Prefers quiet and is soft-spoken. Pulse is either deficient or moderate, but not forceful. Prefers sweet foods, and has poor digestion. Stools are normal but feel difficult in that there is a sensation that they still need to go after a bowel movement.  This can be hereditary, part of an illness, or due to long term injury to the digestive system from lifestyle.  This type is often seen with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Overall climate: Cool

To avoid: Cold foods, similar to yang deficiency with the additional adage of avoiding pungent foods that disperse the qi, such as garlic and onions.

To increase: Rice, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, mustard greens, radishes, carrots, hawthorn berries, dates, pumpkin, fennel, coffee, cocoa, chicken, goose, quail, beef, lamb, honey, shrimp, oysters, fish.

V. Blood Deficiency Constitution

Thin people, eyes lack spirit and are dry. People may see spots, get dizzy easily and develop palpitations under stress. These people are often absent-minded, quiet, and cannot tolerate cold. Tongue and lips are pale, pulse is thin and empty, nails may be brittle and hair dry.  There may be sleeplessness characterized by an aimlessly wandering mind.  Women will have scanty menses. Can develop from blood loss, poor nutrition, or qi deficiency.

Overall climate: Cool and Dry

To avoid: These people often have qi deficiency as a root, and should follow similar guidelines.

To increase: See qi deficiency, and consider moistening foods as well: spinach, chicken eggs, black sesame, chestnuts, grapes, mulberries, Chinese chives, goat’s milk, pork, lotus root, dangkuei, peanuts. Note that the fruits are not as cool as for yin deficiency.

VI. Blood Stasis Constitution.

Body weight normal to thin, dark complexion on face and body, may have red threads on cheeks, red spots on body, greenish purple spots in sclera of eyes.  Dry scaly skin, especially on elderly people’s legs. Pale, dark or purplish lips, dark tongue with purplish hue on the sides and sometimes blotchy areas. Pulse will be wiry or deep, or fine and choppy, sometimes intermittent (heart is affected). No signs in the stools, urine, or emotions, but will develop masses and lumps when sick.  Although constitutional, this condition can also develop from blood loss, injury, or long-term clinical depression.

Overall climate: Slightly Dry.

To avoid: No special contraindications.

To increase: Moistening and dispersing foods.  Peanuts, spinach, canola, chives, eggplant, hawthorn berries, peaches (kernels are used as medicine for severe blood stasis), brown sugar, alcohol, vinegar, rose petals, azuki beans and garlic.

**Stewing eggplant with garlic, ginger, scallions and soy sauce makes a dish that is both tasty and healthy for such conditions as intestinal lumps, blood in stools, itchy skin sores, and arteriosclerosis due to blood stasis. Use 100:5:2:1 eggplant:garlic:scallions:fresh ginger by weight, add soy sauce and sugar to taste.

VII. Phlegm-dampness Constitution.

Obese, puffiness around eyes. Always feels heavy, face is dark or pale yellow. Likes to drink tea.  Tongue has sticky coating and there is either a bland or sweet taste in the mouth. Pulse is soft and/or slippery, stools will be normal to soft and urine will be cloudy. Underlying this type is often yang or qi deficiency with weakness of the pancreas/stomach. When sick, yang is affected, and edema and/or cysts develop easily. (This constitution has yang-deficiency as a root, but manifests as an excess of yin.)

Overall climate: Damp, slightly Cool.

To avoid: Since Yang deficiency is often at the root of this constitution, avoid rich, oily or fried foods, bananas, milk, cold or uncooked foods.

To increase: In addition to warming foods for Qi and Yang deficiency, the following are also helpful in draining excess dampness: taro, broad beans, yellow onions, pomelo, seaweed, turnips.

VIII. Damp-heat Constitution.

No set weight, shiny-oily face prone to acne, yellow skin and eyes. Skin around nose may be greasy (damp) but mouth and sinuses are dry with a slight bitter taste present (heat).  Impatient and easily angered, may feel fatigued as well. Slippery fast pulse, red tongue with sticky coat. Likes oily, deep-fried and sweet foods. Stools are dry, but may contain sticky fluids. Urine is scanty and yellow.  Will get sick from emotions, or bad food. Easily develops heat or fire.

This constitution, alone or in conjunction with others is common in our culture because of our chronic over consumption of sweets and fats.
Overall climate: Damp and Hot

To avoid: Oily, deep-fried foods will trigger skin allergies, Also avoid acrid and warm foods, like lamb, shrimp, chives, alcohol. Acrid and warm spices should be reduced, like garlic and peppers. In general, richer foods will produce more internal heat and exacerbate any imbalances.

To increase: Cooling and drying foods. Corn, mung beans, aduki beans, peas, black beans, celery, amaranth, day lily, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, pears, watermelon, cucumber, tea, duck and quail.

In addition to the above, the following foods should be reduced or avoided by people with damp skin disorders (itching and oozing), as they tend to either supply toxins, rot easily and make toxins, or drive toxins out to the skin: lamb, fish, shrimp, ginger, scallions, chives, garlic, bamboo and mushrooms.  This same group of foods should be reduced in breast-feeding women, as they may cause excessive irritability in the child, especially when they are teething.


Constitutional recommendations are very useful for regular dietary advice, but there are circumstances in which additional knowledge may be helpful.  Food intake should be adjusted according to the climate, the season, the energy needs of each of us, if we are fighting a cold or flu, or if we are coping with an organic medical imbalance.  Oriental medicine provides some guidelines for all of these circumstances which can be very helpful if properly applied.

Here are some guidelines to think about adjusting your food intake according to climate and season:

Winter, and colder climates tend to bring out problems in Yang deficient, qi deficient, and phlegm-damp types.  Most of us can benefit from mildly slanting our diets in that direction in the winter.  However, any person experiencing heat-related problems would want to remain within the guidelines for Yin-deficiency, or dampheat.

Summer, and warmer climates to tend to injure the yin which we can preserve with guidelines for yin deficiency and damp-heat types.  If it is warm and dry, cool and moist like tropical fruits and watermelon are especially important. If it is warm and damp, we need drying foods as well, just as the damp-heat types.

Illnesses can accent a person’s constitution.  The same cold virus will evoke copious clear or white phlegm and muscle aches to a yang-deficient type, and thick yellow nasal discharge to a dampheat type.  In some cases, the pathogen is so strong that it evokes the same symptoms in everyone.  Foods and herbs can be selectively applied while you have symptoms to complement your constitution.

Recommended reading: Healing With Whole Foods: Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition    by Paul Pitchford

North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA 1993

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