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Chinese Medicine

The Causes of Disease

In TCM illnesses and diseases are caused by disharmonies and imbalances. The causes of disharmony and imbalances can be summarized into three main areas:


Internal Causes: illnesses are caused by emotions, and phychological and emotional trauma. The emotions include anger, sadness, worry, fear, joy, grief, pensiveness and shock (frighten), and are usually termed as the seven emotions. While these emotions are normal and healthy responses to the many situations we encounter in daily life, they can cause disease when they are intense or prolonged, or are not expressed or acknowledged over a long period of time.


External Causes: disharmonies that relate to climatic conditions. There are six of these conditions, usually known as the six pathogenic factors or the six outside evils. They are: wind, cold, damp, fire, dryness and summer heat. Different climatic conditions are appropriate during each season and we usually adapt to them as they come and go.


However, extremes of weather such as a very cold winter or unseasoned weather such as a warm spell in winter make us more vulnerable to the effects of that climatic condition and consequently to becoming ill. Also, peopes whose underlying energy is weak are more vulnerable to the effects of climatic conditions than those who have a strong constitution.

Miscellaneous Causes: include work, exercise, diet, sexual activity and physical trauma. TCM thinks that these factors can have a profound influence on our bodies as well. For example, too much physical work can impair Qi, too much mental activity can damage the Spleen, someone who works outdoors is more liable to be at risk from the six outside evils, excessive sexual activity is considered to be damaging.


Qi, moisture, and blood circulate within a web of meridians that link together all parts of the organism. Health exists when adequate Qi, moisture, and blood flow smoothly, when body and mind are on balance.


Symptoms as varied as joint pain, headache, stress, anxiety, fatigue, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, asthma, indigestion, insomnia, and the common cold occur when their circulation is disrupted.


All illness is understood as a consequence of either a excess or deficiency, blockage, depletion or a congestion of Qi, moisture, and blood. Deficiency leads to weakness lethargy, frequent illness, poor digestion, and inadequate blood flow.  Excess or congestion results in pains, aches, tension, tenderness, a bloated or distended abdomen, irritability, and swelling.


TCM finds that there is a correlation of certain illnesses with acupuncture points. From every day experiences, Chinese people recognized when a particular disease or organ disorder occurred by pain in a particular part of their skin, mole, rash or skin color changes. These correlations were analyzed according to the ancient philosophies such as the yin-yang and the five elements theories and further developed into an integrated scientific and artistic model for maintaining health in TCM.

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