Chinese Medicine recognizes Six Pernicious Influences that cause disturbances or disharmony in the body. These are Heat, Cold, Dampness, Dryness, Wind and Summer Heat. They are external or environmental forces that become injurious by invading the body. Historically, they have been called evils.
The influences are natural in the environment. They are the cause of illness when within the body, however. For example, exposure to environmental forces may cause a cold in someone who is weakened. The pernicious (insidious and persisting) nature of the invading force could then manifest as pneumonia if one is already in a vulnerable state of health. In such a case, the Pernicious Influence has overpowered the body’s resistance to ill health.
The Nature of the Six Pernicious Influences
Heat or fire in the body acts as heat or fire in the environment does. It expands, is extremely active and rises. It results in elevated states such as elevated movement, mood and temperature, or, for example, agitation, irritability or anger, and fever.
Cold as an invasive natural force causes reactions in the body as it does in the environment. As the winter cold slows activity, so does cold in the body. One becomes lethargic, sleepy and chilled, for example. This is similar to plants becoming dormant in the winter’s cold.
Dampness in the natural world creates a collection of water or moisture that does not flow and does not evaporate. Dampness in the body is stagnant as a chronic condition that has little movement, for example.
Dryness in the environment is caused by the evaporation of water. In the body, it is the same. One may become dehydrated, or body fluids become less vital as in a dry cough or asthma.
Wind animates the body as it does natural elements like the leaves and limbs of trees. Another influence typically accompanies Wind when it enters the body. This is similar to the differences in, for example, a summer’s hot wind or the cold wind of winter. When the body is invaded by Wind of any type it has reactions that are determined by its quality as an animator and whatever influence accompanies it.
Summer Heat in the environment is typically characterized by the oppression of a hot climate that induces the high body temperature and exhaustion such a climate does.It is usually accompanied by dampness which parallels the oppressive conditions of a hot and humid environment.
If you are in the Louisville area and interested in Chinese Medicine for your medical needs, Jeffrey Russell is in practice at his clinic, Abacus Chinese Medicine, 502 299-8900.