Origins of Disease in TCM


TCM thought sees disease as disharmony; a disharmonious pattern between our bodies and our environment. Therefore, TCM aims to restore balance or homeostasis by...

Western medicine sees disease in terms of biochemistry and bacteriology, not in terms of the harmony of the individual. It generally attempts to isolate 

Disease factors are factors associated with origins of imbalance in the body. We have three main categories of disease factors which can be understood in the chart below. 

The relationships between us and our environment may be divided into factors that are external: arising from our climate and environment, internal: arising within the body, and lifestyle: which include both body and environment. 

Classification of Disease TCM



TCM regards climate as the most important external source of potential disease factors. Climate is made up of six basic climate phenomenon: Wind, Cold, Heat, Damp, Dryness, and Summer-Heat. 


 Six External Factors of Disease TCM

Find out how each of these elements affect our organ systems and our health here!




Western cultures seem to heavily emphasize the emotional body and psyche, and for good reason because we are whole beings, and to separate the body from emotions is an incomplete understanding...even our ancestors acknowledged that emotions have power, influence and energy behind them, and can in-fact be a source of internal injury.

Here is a very, very brief and simplified introduction of the emotions as TCM understands them and some of organ imbalances that may arise! We want to guide you to think about organs in a holistic way, instead of compartmentalizing them.

This is not meant for you to diagnose any illnesses on your own, as it takes a lot more to make an accurate diagnosis and licensed practitioners. It is for you to have a general idea about what could potentially affect organ function and what imbalances you might be prone to.

Emotional imbalances affect the harmonious function of the internal organs (Zang Fu), the formation of the Substances, and their transportation through the meridians, to all parts of the body. 

The emotions mostly recognized in TCM are namely: joy, grief anger, worry or fixation, and fear. 

Feelings and Chinese Medicine

Anger → tends weakens liver 

Grief → tends weakens lung

Worry → tends weakens spleen (western medicine knows this as the Pancreas) 

Stress → tends to weaken heart and brain 

Fear → weakens kidneys

You can read in greater detail on the five emotions and how they affect our organs here.



These include: nutrition, occupation, exercise, substance use, exercise, relationships, sex and trauma, and even parasitic infections. All these categories include aspects of both body and environment. For example, trauma and parasites may involve external environmental factors, but may arise from internal disharmony resulting in reckless behavior.

To read more in detail how each lifestyle factor affects your body and health, click here.

Written by Five Seasons TCM

Leave a comment