chinese medicine views the cause of disease in three main areas: external
causes, internal causes, and a group of miscellaneous causes which
primarily involve lifestyle. These are outlined below:
Six External Causes
six external causes of disease (also known as the six evils) are causes
of disharmony that relate to climatic conditions. Just as extremes
of wind, cold, heat, dampness, dryness, and summer heat can have devastating
effects on the world in which we live, they can also seriously alter
the balance within the body by diminishing, or blocking the flow of
chi in the organs.
is the most prevalent of the six external factors, and refers to
the ability of an illness to spread within the body. Symptoms commonly
linked with wind include chills, fever, colds, flu, nasal congestion,
headaches, allergies, arthritic and rheumatic conditions, as well as
dizziness and vertigo.
related imbalances manifest as conditions that diminish the body's
immune system, such as colds, cough, upper respiratory allergies, as
well as poor circulation, anemia, and weak digestion.
conditions are described as hot and inflammatory, exacerbated by hot
weather and exposure to direct heat. They represent an over-active
metabolic process, which can result in hypertension, hyperthyroid,
ulcers, colitis, inflammed arthritic joints, as well as flu and skin
symptoms are created through the intake of oily and fluidic foods,
as well as wet weather. These symptoms may include swelling, obesity,
the formation of cysts, tumors, and lumps, and an increased production
of phlegm. This phlegm production can affect the sinuses and upper
respiratory passages, including the lungs and bronchioles.
can damage vegitation, and creates similar imbalances within the body,
causing disorders of the lungs, sinuses, large intestine, skin, digestion,
and reproductive organs.
Heat, or an overexposure to sunlight and hot weather, can yield
conditions such as heat stroke, dizziness, nausea, extreme thirst,
Seven Internal Causes
seven internal causes, otherwise known as the Seven Emotions, are illnesses
brought about by intense, prolonged, or supressed feelings, and are
defined as follows:
decreases the flow of chi in the lungs and heart, and is associated
with depression, fatigue, amenorrhea, shortness of breath, asthma,
allergies, cold and flu.
is similar to sadness, and injures the lungs, decreases immunity to
colds and flu, as well as chronic upper respiratory diseases such as
emphysema, allergies, and asthma.
or over-engaging the mind in activities such as worry, thought, or
study can deplete spleen chi, and may result in edema, digestive disorders,
low appetite, and fatigue.
or paranoia causes chi to descend, resulting in potential harm to the
kidneys, lower back, or joints when this emotion is ever present.
or shock is unlike fear in the sense that the onset is very sudden,
causing one's chi to diverge. The rapid change in flow first affects
the heart in symptoms such as breathlessness and palpitations, then
moves to the lower body in a similar fashion to fear, damaging the
kidneys, lower back, and joints.
encompasses all the negative emotions of rage, irritability, frustration,
and resentment, and causes the chi to rise inappropriately. Anger is
associated with headaches, mental confusion, dizziness, and hypertension.
in chinese medicine refers to excess, or overabundance, and relates
to illness relative to overindulgence. Damage to the heart may result,
and the conditions of hysteria, muddled thought, and insomnia may arise.