Wind: A major cause of disease

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Photo by meriç tuna on Unsplash

In Chinese medicine, Wind is one of the most virulent external causes of disease.

It takes many forms. At one end of the spectrum, air passes gently through leaves. At the other end, you get the destructive force of a hurricane.

In the same way, in Chinese medicine Wind symptoms take many forms, from mild to very serious.

One thing is common to them all: movement.

For example, you may find yourself moving involuntarily, as in

  • shivering or 
  • grinding your teeth, or 
  • you get restless and 
  • find the symptoms of your disease keep changing.
  • More severely, people who have epilepsy get seizures that ‘shake and rattle’ their bodies.
  • Wind is also the harbinger of most diseases that Western medicine describes as being of bacterial or viral origin.

Other Ways to Get Wind!

It also arises in the body from other sources.

Although it is tempting to regard Wind as being purely external, if we say that an individual has had an invasion of Wind, it is the individual’s reaction to the invader that we are describing, not that we expected a windy day to have been the trigger. A windy day might or might not have been a cause.

In other words, whether or not the patient had been exposed to the wind as it blows the leaves on trees, or modern equivalents of wind like

  • air-conditioning
  • a blow heater
  • an open window in a fast car
  • sitting in a draft
  • someone sneezing
  • a draft, (all being varieties  of ‘wind’)


he would be described as having a Wind invasion if his symptoms included enough of the following. As you’ll see, there are two kinds, External and Internal:

External Wind Invasion

Running Rainbow image of wind

  • Symptoms that change or alter rapidly or from one minute to the next: pain moves from place to place in the body
  • Muscles or joints are sore
  • Movement is limited, usually because of stiffness
  • Headache
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Itchy throat
  • Puffy face
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Nasal mucus
  • Runny eyes (lachrymation)
  • Shivering, twitching, symptoms that move around, spasms
  • Lungs often affected
  • May sweat unexpectedly
  • Pulse: floating, often a little fast

Internal Wind

This is different.  ‘Internal wind’ arises from what is called internal deficiency.

Although there are some similarities to external wind, internal wind arises not from one of the external causes of disease but from an internal deficiency, such as deficient Blood, or Yin Deficiency.

However, it can be triggered by exposure to one of the external causes of disease.

Internal Wind can be harder to treat and to cure. That’s because the underlying deficiency has probably arisen over time and will take time to cure. So that means that, though occurring at all ages, it occurs more often as you grow older.

For example the slight tremor that many older people have, especially if they are nervous, is an example of Internal Wind. Another form of Wind that older people, especially, suffer from is shingles which starts with an itch. Itching makes you scratch. Scratching is a movement so has the properties of Wind.

Read about one example at Liver Wind.

Wind Combines with other factors

Very often, Wind invades in company with Cold (Wind Cold) or Heat (Wind Heat).

After the attack, what then?

Your body expends a fair amount of energy combating Wind. Consequently, after a Wind attack, you may be left with this.

Read about the other external causes of disease:

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