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The Bright Yang stage (Yangming stage) of disease is when your body mounts a massive attack on an invader, such as an invasion by Wind-Cold.
In this ancient theory, first set down in AD220, there are Six Stages your body can go through in its defence against Cold. The stage on this page is the third of them. Each stage shows the attacker getting closer to destroying the host, ie your body's health.
But at this stage, your body has a huge ambush up its sleeve.
Another theory, developed to deal with not Wind-Cold but with invasion by Wind-Heat, found your body used this same defence at its Qi level - see Four Levels.
Ideally, your body stops the invasion in its tracks at the outermost, or most Yang, level. Read more about that here.
If the body now manages to stop the disease at this Bright Yang stage - Yangming stage - it does it by producing a high fever, profuse sweat, great thirst and a pulse described as 'overflowing' - see below for more symptoms.
The fever can be so high that it leads to delirium. Worrying though these symptoms are, they are, for your body, highly effective.
They stop the disease in its tracks. The fever is such that, although unpleasant for you, it's a good deal more unpleasant for the disease process, the 'cold' invasion.
The 'Cold' that was trying to penetrate inwards is, in effect, burned out. Indeed, the fever is such that you may welcome cool things: quite different from your reaction at the Tai Yang stage, the first and outermost level or the alternating states in the second stage, the Lesser Yang stage.
But sometimes, your body hasn't got the wherewithal to ambush the invader at this stage so the invader marches on to the next level, that of the Greater Yin Tai Yin level.
Here are some reasons why your body might allow the attacker past this Bright Yang stage without mounting a defence here:
What might be a COOLING ploy?
Cool moist flannels on the brow are very pleasant for most people in a fever, and rarely make much difference to how it proceeds.
Chinese medicine noticed some time ago that putting lots of cold or iced water on the back of the knees (the poplitea) had a pronounced cooling effect on the body.
Immersing the body in cold or freezing water also reduces the temperature.
If you can contain yourself, however, your feverish body will nearly always emerge healthier, with a better circulation and immune function if allowed to proceed through its own system, unpleasant at the time though this is.
There are two types of Bright Yang stage (you can get both at the same time!):
In this Bright Yang stage, the body confronts the attacking Cold with Heat: like bringing an icicle into your house and putting it into a hot oven until it evaporates.
So your body has allowed the invader in, but for a good reason. In a way, it knows it has the upper hand once it gets the Cold inside.
Another way of thinking about it is that your immune system and the invader are equally matched, so there is a tremendous struggle between them, generating a lot of heat: in this way of thinking, the invader has indeed pushed his way indoors, but you are putting up a huge fight to push him out. The heat is the sign of the struggle, so is very important.
The above symptoms of great thirst, heat and redness, eg on face and tongue, show that the 'disease-process' is in the Stomach.
In Chinese medicine the Stomach and Large Intestine channels are called, as a whole, the Yang Ming or Bright Yang channel.
Very often it is points along the Large Intestine or Stomach channels that are used for treating this Bright Yang stage syndrome.
If your body has successfully produced the above symptoms, you can be fairly confident that by the time you reach your acupuncturist the Cold will have been vanquished.
In that case, your acupuncturist will use points that help your body to clear Stomach-Heat. Some of these points will be along the Yangming or Bright Yang channels, and might include points like LI 11, St 21, 34, 43 and 44, Du 14, P 3.
He might also prescribe a herbal recipe containing at least one very 'cold' type herb, balanced with other herbs to prevent damage and to provide nutrition.
Examples of traditional recipes that might form the basis of the recipe for you include Bai Hu Tang.
In this kind of Bright Yang stage condition, the Heat produced by your body is not confined to the Stomach, but reaches down into the Intestines. Consequently, as well as the symptoms explained above you get extra symptoms as follows:
You could say that here the body has gone overboard with its Heat, almost got out of control, to the point where its fluids are drying out, hence the dry stools, dry tongue and even greater thirst.
Note: people sometimes go straight to this stage, or something very like it, when on holiday in hot countries, perhaps after eating spicy food and sunburning before they have acclimatised. In this case, their bodies reached this stage from Heat, not cold.
What you should not do is to prevent bowel movement. That results in the Heat being retained, only to destroy Yin fluids all the more.
The right treatment, the Chinese classics say, is first to purge, in other words to get the body to pass the stools, taking much of their heat with them.
There are herbs for this Bright Yang stage, but modern medicine has ways of treating it too, and there are many supplements for constipation which can be properly employed here without much danger. Herbs used in Chinese medicine for this include senna and aloe vera.
However, such supplements or medicines should not become habitual. You need, after recovering, to make sure you eat foods that provide natural bowel movements without worry. Also to moderate stress levels so that it does not bind you up. (Read my book on the subject of stress, see below.)
Purging too often has its dangers.
Your acupuncturist will use similar points to the 'Channel' kind of Bright Yang stage, with additional points for constipation. For example: LI 11, St 43 and 44, Du 14, P 3, St21 & 25 and Sp 15, Du 14, St 37, and Sp 6.
Herbs will also be purging, but the right recipe for you will contain herbs that nourish Yin and so help combat the excess Yang situation your body has been in. Da Cheng Qi Tang and Tiao Wei Cheng Qi Tang could be recipes on which your recipe might be based.
The next stage is called the Greater Yin stage. If someone's body can't produce this Bright Yang stage ambush on the invader, the invader may get past it to the Greater Yin stage.
If you have read this far, you'll realise that to mount a Bright Yang stage you need to be fairly young or fit. It is not so common amongst older people, or people weighed down by chronic conditions. They usually pass straight on to the Greater Yin stage.
What are The Six Stages as Cold penetrates?
Note that this is not the order mostly used since antiquity, but makes more sense to me. For nerds, I'm with Giovanni Maciocia on this one.
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Still only one comment, though personally I think this is my best book so far.
Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine!
One Review so far. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)
3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!
By the author of this website, it explains in simple English how to use stress to improve and enhance your life.
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