When an acupuncturist talks to you about your health, they may sound more like they’re delivering a weather report than a medical diagnosis. But there is a reason for that! Have a look at why Chinese Medicine places an emphasis on these issues in treatment…
The Six Excesses: Climatic Factors in TCM
In TCM theory, disease can be influenced by external factors such as extreme climate which can then be internalised. Sometimes called the Six Excesses, they are Cold, Heat, Summer Heat, Dampness, Dryness and Wind.
Although it may sound odd, remember that in TCM development, they understood the body in a very different way, and were hugely influenced nature, their surroundings and the effect it had on the human body. They noticed that certain diseases behaved in a particular way, similar to the weather and the environment around them. This is how the theory of the Six Evils was born. Although it may sound strange to talk about Heat or Cold, in TCM it is quite useful because it helps a practitioner to understand how a disease acts and how best to clear these problem areas.
Internal Cold can become an issue if you spend too much time in a cold environment or by eating too many cold or raw foods. Cold causes Blood and Qi to contract and become thick and slow, leading to stagnation. Processes such as digestion also become weakened over time.
Too much Internal Heat can make you feel anxious and agitated as well as leading to dryness in the body. While Heat can be external, more often it is a result of too much emotional stress which builds over time. Also, Heat can be introduced by eating too many spicy or fried foods, or by what is known in TCM as Yin deficiency.
Summer heat is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures, similar to our own idea of sunstroke. Fortunately, Summer Heat is not commonly seen, but just make sure you limit your exposure to the sun and stay well hydrated.
Internal Dampness is kind of a sticky moistness, and over time it causes things to slow down and be sluggish. It can be caused by living in damp conditions or too many rich, fatty foods in the diet. These kind of foods are hard to break down and your digestive can’t process it well, and it builds up.
Dryness is closely related to Heat and the two often exist together. Dryness simply means that there is an insufficiency of moisture in the body. It especially affects the Lungs and skin.
Wind in TCM often precedes other illnesses, as it can easily penetrate the body’s defences leaving it open to other damaging factors like Heat or Cold. Wind and Wind-diseases are characterised by quickly changing symptoms or symptoms that come and go, and often ties in with illnesses such as colds and flu.