Wind or fēng in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the six evils (weather systems) that can affect our health – it’s destructive both in nature and within our bodies. There’s 2 types of wind that we talk about – Internal and External.
External wind invasions gets into the pores of the skin, which effects our acupuncture meridians resulting in colds, flu, virus and fever attacking our system (you’ll rarely see a TCM practitioner outside without a hat and scarf in the Autumn/Winter months)
It can then cause further damage if allowed to develop into Internal Wind, depleting our Qi (energy) and causing problems with bodily fluids (blood, fluid in joints, water etc)
Typical Western ailments that are caused by Wind are:
Dizziness and Vertigo
Arthritis – that moves around the body
Sudden headaches and migraine with Vertigo
Meniere’s Disease (inner ear)
Tremors, spasms and shaking
Severe wind can also cause a Stroke
Cold (lěng) is the second of the evils that can affect the body. Just as water turns to ice when exposed to coldness, Cold in the body constricts, contracts and congeals. This causes physical obstructions, blocking the flow of Qi and Blood in the body and often causing various kinds of pain, contraction, spasm, cramps and stiffness.
For women this is most apparent during menstruation – period pain and blood clots during your period are not normal – you’ll have most likely noticed that this pain disappears if you apply heat to the area, this is because your basically melting the ice (cold) in your uterus. Having excess cold drinks (plus ice in drinks) and foods in your diet, including “healthy” salads, raw food and ice cream are some of the causes contributing to the cold. If you take the contraceptive pill this can also cause excess cold in your uterus.
Probably unsurprisingly folks that wear shorts all year round will also suffer the effects of Cold. The cold can penetrate though the limbs, especially the knees and joints and can ultimately cause lower back pain, through cold stagnation of blood in those areas.
Western Ailments that are caused by Cold:
To put it simply, dampness refers to water retention and we all know how much damage damp (cháo shī) can cause to a building, rising damp, penetrating damp – the same can happen to the human body too. Health in Chinese medicine hinges on striking a balance between all the elements in our body. A high proportion of water in the human body is a source of illness. At first, you will feel bulky and sleepy all the time when you’re damp. In more poetic terms, it is like being weighed down by concrete. The body feels sticky like a glue and the person feels sluggish.
Dampness affects people with different constitutions such as yin (cold) and yang (hot) differently. A damp yin person will feel tired, their skin gets oily but without many spots. When the dampness seeps into the muscles, bones and joints, that’s when the lethargy sets in. If the problem becomes worse, the dampness will affect their blood vessels and result in high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart and kidney problems. For yang body types, it becomes ‘toxic’. At first, it’s most visible on the skin, in forms such as acne and eczema. On the muscle, bone and joint level, drowsiness is less pronounced for yang people. Instead, there’ll be pain around the shoulders, neck, back of the head, waist and joints. On a more severe level, it will transform into blood diseases, like uric acid (gout, kidney stones and gallstones) or even vasculitis.
Dampness causes dysfunction in our body. If our intestines and stomach are not working properly, our ability to eliminate dampness is weak. Chinese medicine suggests detoxing and strengthening the spleen so as to increase the body’s ability to dispel water.
Cutting certain foods from the diet is also beneficial too, such as cold raw foods, bananas, cheese, pastries, greasy food, beer, concentrated orange and tomato juice.
Adding in drying food like Aduki Beans (great in a chilli or soup – I get mine in Tesco), asparagus, bamboo shoots, carrots, duck, onions, brown rice, garlic, pineapple and green tea. A great meal would be for instances a roasted duck stir fry with pineapple – delicious!
Cupping therapy can be used to: remove cold and dampness, open the meridians, eliminate stasis, help promote qi and blood circulation, reduce swelling and pain, promote detoxification, bring balance to yin and yang, relieve fatigue, and enhance the body’s function as well.
Western Ailments associated with damp:
Heat rè, obviously is the opposite of Cold, where cold sinks, Heat rises (the same as in your home when its always warmer upstairs), hot headed-ness (anger) and high blood pressure are just two symptoms of heat and how it can effect the body.
Sore throats, red eyes and conjunctivitis, painful itchy rashes, shingles rash in the costal region, stomach ulcers, heartburn, bone infections and even meningitis (effects the marrow) are all conditions where Heat has progressed into Fire affecting the organs
Summer Heat shǔ –
Dampness can turn into phlegm with heat –
Dryness qiū zào – Associated with the Autumn causing dry hair, skin, nails, eyes – easily damages the bodily fluids. Could come from smoking (drying out the lungs with toxins), air conditioning (cool dryness) or a dry hot climate (think arid sahara desert for example)
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help treat all of these problems and get to the root cause of the issue, re-balancing the system and reducing the symptoms