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Tonight we’ll be continuing our exploration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the way that diseases and harmony disorders are diagnosed. So it’s time to look at:

The Six Excesses (Liu Yin)

A yellow tongue is a sign of "heat" in TCM - I don't know about you, but that doesn't make me feel hot at all...

Sometimes these are also referred to as the six devils or six evils (liu xie) and essentially it boils down to an attempt to categorise the patterns of disharmony in a patient. They are blamed on the six qi (liu qi) which are climatic factors that are supposed to mess with you through your skin and then down into the interior of your body. (Really.)

There’s a reasonable amount of debate amongst practitioners as to whether or not these climatic factors are related to the actual climate/weather that someone’s been exposed to recently. Most commonly they are really referring to a collection of symptoms that allows for categorisation.

The Six Excesses and their Symptoms

Wind (feng) – Getting sick quickly, symptoms that wander round the body, itchiness, blocked up nose, tremors, fits, paralysis and “floating pulse”

Cold (han) – Unsurprising feeling cold, wanting to stay away from cold, warmth makes you feel better, diarrhoea, serious pain, stomach pain, muscle contractions, a slimy white fur found on the tongue (there it is again) and a slow or “deep/string like” pulse

Heat (huo) – Wanting to avoid heat, fever, thirst, dark coloured urine, blushing or redness of face, a rapid pulse, a red tongue with yellow fur

Dampness (shi) – Makes you feel heavy and/or full, greasy fur on the tongue and a “slippery” pulse and symptoms of a dysfunctional spleen

Dryness (zao) – A dry cough, mouth, throat, skin or lips, regular nosebleeds and umm… dry stools

Summerheat (shu) – Which is where they ran out of ideas, so it’s expressed as heat and mixed damp heat symptoms

And to make things even more fun don’t forget that they can add them together to deliver a pattern, so you might have problems with cold-wind, or damp-wind for example.

Typical Patterns

Traditional Chinese Medicine at its finest - "cupping" causes these burn marks which do go away after a few days.

Each of the entities (qi/xue/zang-fu/etc.) has a typical pattern that practitioners look for. So in the case of SPLEEN zang – you’ll find damp/heat as the norm, and in the meridians wind/cold/damp is more usual.

And there’s still more to come, the bright side is that very soon you’ll know everything you really need to know about Traditional Chinese Medicine before we start exploring the typical treatment methodologies, and my own experiences with acupuncture.