Six Evils ( Liu Yin )

The key "six evils" (Liu Yin) were defined as:
  • Wind (Feng) - associated with spring.
  • Cold (Han) - characteristic of winter.
  • Heat (Re) - summer heat (Shu), linked to high summer.
  • Dampness (Shi), most associated with the rainy season in late summer.
  • Dryness (Zao) - typical of autumn.
  • Fire (Huo) - like heat, is associated with hot conditions. However, but while heat is a seasonal "evil" occurring only in summer-like weather, fire can occur at ony time.

Symptoms of six eveils

These evils each had their characteristic symptoms. For example, fevers and chills from hot and cold or a shifting pattern of pain related to wind. An attack of dampness was characterized by symptoms like runny catarrh or oedema, while heat was the explanation for summer fevers. A cold spring was regarded by Chinese physicians as likely to herald cold related disorders.

These six evils can also attack in combination. Most common are wind-cold and wind-heat, perhaps with the addition of damp.

Herbs to combat the six evils

The major herbs for exterior conditions ( i.e. to counter the six evils ) are classified into two groups:

  • warm / pungent herbs for dispelling wind-cold; and
  • cool, pungent herbs for wind-heat.

Among the warm, pungent group are:

  • Ma Huang, Gui Zhi, Zi Su Ye (perilla leaf, Perilla frutescens), Fang Feng (Ledebouriella sesloides), Qiang Huo [Notopterygium incisium), Gao Ben, Bai Zhi, Sheng Jiang, Xin Yi Hua (Magnolia liliiflora), and Cong Bai (spring onions, Allium fistulosum).

Herbs for clearing wind-heat are:

  • Bo He, Niu Bang Zi, Sang Ye, Ju Hua, Ge Gen, Chai Hu (Bupleurum falcatum), and Sheng Ma (Cimicifuga foetida).

Notes: In TCM, childhood ailments are regarded as simple exterior conditions. Only those herbs suggested for these conditions should be used at home. Give one-quarter of the adult dose for children aged 3-4. Increasing to one-half by age 9-10. For very young children seek professional guidance.

Return from Six Evils to The Theory of Chinese Medicine


Share this page: