Wind: The Mother of a Hundred Diseases

In Chinese medicine, wind is one of the six pernicious influences or causes of disease that arise from outside the body due to climatic factors. It is considered to be the "mother of 100 diseases" (all diseases), because it doesn't enter the body alone, but carries with it one of the other five pernicious influences -- cold, heat, summer heat, dry, and damp. These six causes are also called the "Six Qi" (Liu Qi), the "Six Excesses" (Liu Yin) or "Six Evils" (Liu Xie). In Chinese medicine, there are three causes of disease -- the external causes, just mentioned, internal causes, which are due to emotions, and other miscellaneous causes, which include diet, lifestyle and trauma.

As in nature, external wind evil is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms that quickly change and affect the upper body and the body's surfaces. Typical symptoms include fever and chills, stiff neck, headache, and a runny nose or nasal congestion. In Chinese Medicine, wind is associated with the season of spring.

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This past week we definitely saw a quick change in weather patterns with spring-like temperatures. Last weekend the daytime temperatures were in the single digits, with a wind chill that got down to -15º. Just a few days later on Friday, the high was 62º, with wind gusts of 62 mph! Talk about a sudden onset and quickly changing patterns! This of course caused a lot of damage. In downtown Chicago, windows on high-rises were blown out or broken by flying debris and a few buildings lost their roofs!

Being very familiar with what wind was capable of doing to the body in Chinese medicine terms, I avoided going outdoors despite the warm and sunny weather. While heading to the clinic, I saw a flock of geese honking wildly as they desperately but unsuccessfully tried to fly south against the wind and remain in their v-formation. It was the first time I had ever seen birds getting blown around like that. In Hawaii, winds of that intensity only come with tropical storms or hurricanes!

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The wind died down as the weekend started, and with the warmth and sunshine sticking around it was hard to sit inside for our final weekend of H.B. Kim's Integration of Herbal Medicine class. Not! Honestly, if given the chance, I would give up every warm, sunny weekend for the chance to learn from the illustrious Dr. Kim! It was great to meet him in person and see for myself how surprisingly young he is for the depth of knowledge that he has. For 16 hours on Saturday and Sunday, it was non-stop, eye-popping info on herbal formulas. Despite my lethargy from a long week with little sleep, I was for the most part at the edge of my seat, frantically taking notes and trying to digest all the information. As I said in last week's blog, learning herbal medicine gives one a greater understanding of theory and diagnosis, so I left class on Sunday with an improved understanding of TCM, along with a newfound fresh and creative approach to learning herbs and formulas.

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I'm astounded that Dr. Kim can so effectively teach the information, write texts and keep them updated, run a wonderful website and online forum (www.acupuncturemedia.com), teach review courses across the country, have a private practice, and raise a family! He's a real wizard!

And now to get through this next week... 11 days of class without a day off is tough, but especially so during midterms! Off to the library!