Wind and Its Impact in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In TCM, the wind is believed to be a major cause of illness. (Image: needpix / CC0 1.0)

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the wind is believed to be a major cause of illness. Traditionally considered a yang form of evil, you can determine whether an affliction is caused by wind by looking at the symptoms associated with body movements — like spasms, twitching, and shaking. TCM classifies wind into external and internal. While external wind affects the lungs, internal wind impacts the liver. Any wind imbalance in the body caused by external invasion or generated internally is termed “pathogenic wind” according to TCM. Wind combines with other pathogens in the body, giving rise to several types of syndromes.

Wind syndromes

When the influence of wind combines with cold, the person is said to experience “wind-cold.” Anyone suffering from such a condition will have nasal congestion, lack of sweating, shoulder pain, chills, fever, and so on. TCM recommends using warm, sweat-inducing herbs to treat “wind-cold.” A person suffering from “wind-heat” can be identified by symptoms like sore throat, red eyes, red face, rapid pulse, and thirst. This condition is usually seen in people who have contracted the flu or a common cold.  

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When suffering from “wind damp,” a person is likely to develop arthritis. The pain can keep migrating from one area of the body to others, making it difficult to cure. Moxibustion therapy that focuses on the application of heat can be useful in these cases. TCM also suggests the use of herbs that drain dampness and boost the circulation of qi (energy) in the body. When a rash appears suddenly on the body, it is classified as “wind rash.” Correcting the diet is necessary to successfully treat the condition. Items like coffee, which heats up blood and increases wind, are avoided.

Herbs are one of the effective ways for treatment in TCM. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

A deficiency of blood in the liver can lead to wind imbalance, resulting in cramping and numbness. Only by toning the blood can these symptoms be minimized. An imbalance in the liver means a disruption in the flow of blood, which can cause convulsions in the afflicted individual. The influence of wind can worsen convulsions.  

An upward movement in TCM wind is said to cause problems in the face and head. People experiencing an upward wind might feel their facial muscles contracting. An invasion of wind and heat is responsible for headaches and migraines. “This causes meridian obstructions and disturbs the blood and qi flow in the head, which, in turn, can lead to headaches or migraines. Hypertension can induce and aggravate pathogenic wind symptoms. Stroke is regarded as an extreme ‘upward movement’ of wind into the brain,” according to Spiritual Coach.

Treating wind in TCM

TCM offers three types of treatment for wind — acupuncture, cupping, and herbs. If the symptoms of wind include chills, back pain, stiff muscles, nasal congestion, and fever, it is believed to be treatable through acupuncture. If the illness is in its initial stages, acupuncture generally produces good results.

Acupuncture is one of the treatments for wind offered in TCM. (Image: freepix / CC0 1.0)

Cupping is typically recommended to people whose wind illness symptoms include respiratory issues or aching muscles in the upper part of the body. The method attracts wind to the body surface and expels them through the numerous pores. Herbs are used in treating the superficial layer of the lungs.

To prevent TCM wind invasion, you should avoid being exposed to windy weather. Always wear a scarf to protect your head and neck under such climatic conditions. Avoid drinking alcohol if you are suffering from a cold. Instead, drink some ginger tea. During dry seasons, remember to moisturize your skin often.

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