The Seven Emotions ... Internal Causes of Disease ...
One of the major internal causes of disease is the seven emotions. An excess of any of them is likely to damage the organ connected with the emotion.
Too much worrying will damage the Spleen, and too much fear will affect the Kidney. In each case, the excess emotion interferes with the normal flow of Qi, with resulting symptoms and syndromes.
Too much anger, for example, will cause the Liver Qi to rise, resulting in headache, facial flushing, and ultimately - in severe cases - an increased risk of a stroke. Treatment involves using herbs or acupuncture to help reverse this upward Liver Qi flow, as well as encouraging the patient to take a calmer view of the world.
Phlegm ... Internal Causes of Disease ...
The Western sees Phlegm as a sort of catarrhal mucus produced during vigorous bouts of coughing. The Chinese concept goes beyond that.
In Chinese medicine, there are two types of Phlegm:
The visible phlegm is our familiar sputum. The invisible phlegm, on the other hand, collects inside the body and can be both a product and cause of disease.
Spleen Qi deficiency, for example, will lead to production of Phlegm, which will then move toward the Heart and cause a blockage. This is seen as a cause of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, since the Heart is the key focus for mental activity.
Phlegm production is closely associated with the Spleen's role in separating the clear and turbid fluids produced during digestion. Phlegm tends to be stored by the Lungs - hence its physical manifestation in productive coughing. Asthma is also associated with excess Phlegm. Its characteristic wheeziness is described as the "sound of Phlegm."
Typical symptoms of Phlegm syndrome include a thick, greasy coating to the tongue and a slippery or wiry pulse. Other symptoms will depend on where the Phlegm is concentrated. If it is in the stomach, it will lead to nausea and vomiting; if in the Lungs, to coughing and shortness of breath; in the Heart, to mental disturbances, coma, delirium, and so on.
Blood Stasis ... Internal Causes of Disease ...
The third important internal causes of illness is Blood stasis or stagnation.
Again, the meaning of "Blood" in Chinese context is more than the Western anatomical concept of the red stuff circulating in our veins and arteries.
Blood stasis, like invisible Phlegm, is seen as some sort of blockage in the normal circulation - but that doesn't always mean the Western concept of a blood clot or thrombosis.
Blood stasis can be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Qi stagnation,
- Qi deficiency,
- Cold entering the Blood, causing it to congeal and slow down,
- Heat entering the Blood, increasing the flow and leading to hemorrhage, and
- traumatic injuries or wounds.
Blood stasis is often associated with a stabbing pain, enlargement or swelling of the body organs, purplish spots on the tongue, or some sort of bleeding.
Congenital Problems ... Internal Causes of Disease ...
We can do very little about some internal causes of disease factors - fetal damage or inherent birth defects are both in this category but that doesn't prevent parents from trying.
In Southern China, it is still common to give new-born babies a herbal brew at fifteen days of age designed to clear the heat and toxins that are believed to be present at birth.
Premature birth is seen as a potential cause of internal illness. The mother's health during pregnancy also is significant and can have a fundamental influence on the subsequent vigor and vitality of her offspring.
The "congenital Qi" that we are born with is something that it is very difficult for us to do much about.
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