Archives for category: Disease

waterThree major causes of disease in TCM include: External (Six Climates); Internal (Seven Emotions); and, Five Miscellaneous (e.g., lifestyle choices). In this article we will briefly go through the five miscellaneous so as to give you an understanding of disease creation under this Eastern lens.

Five Miscellaneous Causes of Disease:

1. Improper / Irregular Diet: The principle organs associated with digestion are the spleen, stomach, intestines and liver. There can be belching, foul breath, sour regurgitation, abdominal distension and pain, no appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. The three principle forms of dietary irregularity are:  A. Overeating: gluttony, craving for sweet or fatty foods. B. Ingestion of raw, cold or unclean foods. C. Habitual consumption of alcohol, hot, spicy or fried foods.

2. Lifestyle: A. Overwork: can be either physical or mental; mental overwork and stress damages the spleen which leads to fatigue, weight loss and a  low voice;  liver blood deficiency leads to insomnia, palpitations, dizziness and blurred vision. B. Overstrain, stress or lack of physical exercise. C. Sexual excesses deplete kidney qi and jing (pre birth essence). D. No exercise leads to spleen qi deficiency resulting in soft bones and tendons, poor energy and appetite, obesity, shortness of breath on exertion and frequent colds.

3.  Trauma / Insect & Animal Bites: Includes all unpredictable occurrences and accidents such as injuries, gunshots, incisions, contusions, burns, sprains and fractures.

4. Phlegm / Fluid Stagnation: Both a cause of disease and the result of existing pathology. Lung, kidney and spleen qi deficiency results in phlegm. General symptoms: Profuse sputum, sticky fluids, rattling sound in throat, abdominal and epigastric fullness, vomiting, dizziness, vertigo and palpitations. Tongue will have a sticky coating and the pulse will be wiry, rolling. Lungs: sputum and asthma. Heart: coma, palpitations, depressive and manic psychosis. Channels: hemiplagia, numbness. Head:  vertigo, blurred vision. Skin and muscles:  edema, heavy sensation, general aching. Chest: cough, asthma. Stomach and intestines: nausea, vomiting, epigastric and abdominal discomfort, gas.

5. Blood Stagnation: Both a cause of disease and a result of existing pathology. Three major causes: A. Cold or qi deficiency. B. Qi stagnation. C. Trauma. Worse with pressure. Stabbing quality pain. Dark red bleeding with clots. Petechia, accompanied by pain in the affected area. Tongue: deep purple or purple spots. Possible fixed, purplish masses with sharp pain. Heart: heart attack, angina, green-purplish lips, suffocating chest. Lung: chest pain, hemoptysis. Intestines: hematemesis, bloody stool. Liver:  hypochondriac pain, abdominal masses. Uterus: dysmenorrhea with irregular masses, clots. Skin:  Purple or greenish skin color, subcutaneous hematoma.

emotionsThree major causes of disease in TCM include: External (Six Climates); Internal (Seven Emotions); and, Five Miscellaneous (e.g., lifestyle choices). In this article we will briefly go through the internal seven emotions so as to give you an understanding of disease creation under this Eastern lens.

Internal Cause of Disease: Seven Emotions

Emotions play a big role in TCM. For example, lack of appropriate emotional response or inappropriate or excessive emotional response may lead to disease of the related organ. Weakness in any organ system may lead to emotional weakness or imbalance. Emotional factors can cause functional changes in one or more organs at the same time.

Below is brief discussion of the seven emotions:

1. Anger: Affects the liver, causes qi to rise up.  Includes: repressed anger, irritability, frustration, bitterness, resentment, rage, indignation, animosity and moodiness.  There can be liver qi stagnation, liver blood stagnation, liver yang rising and liver fire. Symptoms include: headache, tinnitus, dizziness, red face, thirst, bitter taste, hypogastric pain and distension, belching, sighing and irregular menstruation bleeding due to impairment of the blood.

2. Joy: Affects the heart. Joylessness or the inability to express joy is pathological and slows qi down. There can also be excessive excitement and manic behavior. Symptoms include: anxiety, palpitations, insomnia, dizziness, mania, dream disturbed sleep, mental confusion as well as abnormal laughing and crying.

3. Sadness: Affects the lungs. Has to do with separation or release . Consumes or dissolves qi. Excessive crying and grieving. Weakens both the heart blood and lung qi. Symptoms: breathlessness, tiredness, depression, crying and amenorrhea (blood deficiency).

4. Grief: Affects both the lung and heart. Involves extreme or chronic sadness. Consumes qi.

5. Worry or Pensiveness: Affects the spleen. Stagnates or knots the qi.  Involves excessive studying, thinking, worrying and mental work. Includes introspection, brooding, obsessing and other kinds of unexpressed mental energy (this does not equate with intelligence). Weakens spleen qi causing spleen qi sinking (prolapse) and spleen not holding (bleeding). Symptoms: tiredness, fatigue, loss of appetite, loose stools, damp accumulation, phlegm, epigastric distension, worse with irregular meals and eating too quickly.

6. Fear: Affects the kidneys. Phobias, fearful children, easily frightened.  Symptoms: children: kidney qi descends for bedwetting (enuresis); adults: fear, chronic anxiety, kidney yin deficiency with heart fire results in red complexion, night sweats, palpitations, dry mouth and dry throat.

7. Fright, Panic or Shock: Affects kidneys; more sudden than fear, also affects the heart;  qi becomes deranged or scattered.  Depletes heart and kidney qi leading to palpitations, shortness of breath, insomnia, dizziness, tinnitus, night sweats, dry mouth, coma and even yang collapse.

Nature ElementsThree major causes of disease in TCM include: External (Six Climates); Internal (Seven Emotions); and, Five Miscellaneous (e.g., lifestyle choices). In this article we will briefly go through the external six climates so as to give you an understanding of disease creation under this Eastern lens.

External Cause of Disease:

Here we have six climates that cause disease, such as: wind, cold, heat, summer-heat, damp and dryness. When in harmony these are the elements of nature, by contrast when excessive they are pathogenic. They can affect the body when the climate change is extreme or sudden and when the body’s defensive qi is weak. Below are general characteristics and symptoms of these elements.

A. Wind: Sudden onset; combines with other pathogens; characterized by simultaneous chills and fever, aversion to heat/cold, headache, sore throat, cough, sneezing, moving of symptoms from one place to another, akin to “catching a cold.”

i) Wind-Cold: Aversion to cold, chills, sneezing, cough, runny nose, slight fever, occipital headache and stiffness, no sweat, no thirst.

ii) Wind-heat: Aversion to cold, chills, fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose with slightly yellow discharge, occipital headache, stiffness, ache, slight sweat, sore throat, thirst.

iii) Wind-Damp: Symptoms: Skin rash, itching, appearing suddenly and moving from place to place; fever, aversion to cold, sweating, occipital headache, body aches, feeling of heaviness, swollen joints.

iv) Wind-Water:  Symptoms: edema, especially face, swollen face and eyes, cough with profuse white and watery sputum, aversion to cold, sweat, no thirst.

B. Cold (yin pathogen): Occurs during the cold season, exposure to cold after sweating, wearing wet clothes, exposure to air conditioning and from swimming. Symptoms can include: cold limbs, diarrhea with undigested food, increased clear urination, contraction, stagnation, spasms of tendons, sharp pain, aversion to cold, limited range of motion of limbs, cold pain in epigastric and abdominal regions. Stagnation of qi and blood closes pores resulting in no sweat. Kidneys and lungs are the most vulnerable to cold. Characterized by contraction and slowing energy, thin secretions, pain or symptoms are ameliorated by warmth and aggravated by cold.

C. Heat (yang pathogen): Symptoms include: high fever, restlessness, thirst, sweat, insomnia, mania, mouth and tongue ulcers, swollen and painful gums, coma, delirium.  Consumes yin fluids resulting in thirst, dry lips and throat, constipation as well as deep yellow, scanty urine. Heat makes the blood move recklessly resulting in epistaxis (nose), hemoptysis (cough), hematuria (urine), menorrhagia (excessive uterine bleeding), metorrhagia  (break through bleeding), hematemesis (vomiting), bloody stools, carbuncles, furuncles, boils, and ulcers. Characterized by rapid movement, excitation, agitation, delerium, mania and redness. Causes thickening of secretions and putrification. Symptoms are ameliorated by cold, aggravated by heat.

D. Summer-Heat (yang and yin pathogen): Combined pathogen of Heat and Damp. Generally a yang pathogen, but more mild, because of the presence of yin. Heat leads to the deficiency of body fluids. Dampness leads to the stagnation of body fluids. Occurs from high temperatures, over exposure to excessive sun and high humidity. Characterized by consumption of body fluids, dizziness, blurred vision, excessive sweating, thirst, fever, dry mouth and tongue, heaviness of the head, suffocating  sensation in the chest, general lassitude, scanty, deep yellow urination, high temperature, restlessness and reluctance to speak.

E. Damp (yin pathogen): Hot, rainy season with excessive dampness and humidity. Characterized by heaviness and turbidity. The energy of this element is long standing, complex and slow to respond. Always involves deficiency (hypo-function) of the spleen. Yin pathogen causes damage to spleen, kidney and lung.  Symptoms can include: heaviness, turbidity, dizziness, feeling like the head is wrapped in a cloth, discharges, pus, eczema, leukorrhea, turbid urine, mucus in stools, cough and phlegm. Dampness can lead to distension and fullness of the epigastrium and abdomen, poor appetite, loose stools, reduced urination and edema.

F. Dryness (yang pathogen that reflects a stage of yin deficiency): Dryness mostly affects the lung, kidney and stomach. Dryness consumes body fluids. Symptoms can include: dry nose and throat, thirst, chapped skin, dry hair, constipation, reduced urination, scanty and sticky bloody sputum. Dryness invades the lung through the nose or mouth and damages blood and yin.