What is “Cold”? 了解“寒气”

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are six factors from the environment that contribute to illness and cause imbalances in our body. They are:

pathogenic wind 风
pathogenic cold 寒
pathogenic summer-heat 暑
pathogenic dampness 湿
pathogenic dryness 燥
pathogenic heat (fire) 火

We, as part of nature, constantly contact with these natural factors. Under normal condition, our body can adapt to the environmental changes, however, if the harmonious relationship between human beings and nature is broken, an imbalanced body will become unable to adapt itself to the changes, leading to the occurrence of disease. Under such condition, the six natural climatic factors become pathogenic factors. These factors can be either external (exogenous) or internal (endogenous) and both are interrelated. External factors are often the cause or triggers of internal factors.

pathogenic cold TCM


Cold 寒

Associated with Winter, the Water element, Yin, Kidney, pathogenic environmental Cold is an easy concept to understand. The external invasion of cold into the body is commonly due to cold weather and exposure to cold measures, such as having a strong air conditioner constantly blow on your back and neck. The invasion can be superficial and only stagnates the defensive Qi near the surface of our body, but it can also cause deeper problems in our organs. For example, a “cold uterus” can be a common cause of infertility. The characteristics of cold are:

1. Cold impairs Yang: For example, if cold directly invades the spleen and the stomach, spleen-yang will be impaired, leading to a cold pain in the stomach and abdomen that is often relieved by the application warmth, along with vomiting and/or diarrhea. Another example is if cold directly attacks heart and the kidney-yang, leading to aversion of cold, depression, fatigue, cold hands and feet, profuse and clear urine, sexual dysfunction of both men and women, etc.
2. Cold coagulates: Qi, blood and body fluid flow continuously inside our  body because they are constantly warmed and propelled by Yang-Qi. If pathogenic cold obstructs Yang-Qi, then Qi, blood and body fluid cannot flow freely and will coagulate in the vessels, bringing pain in joints, muscles, and abdominal area.
3. Cold contracts: Cold pertains to yin and tends to restrain the activity of Qi, leading to contracture of muscles, tendons and vessels, leading to anhidrosis (lack of sweating), papules, muscular/skeletal pain, headache, spasm of the limbs.

Endogenous Cold

The occurrence of endogenous cold is due to the deficiency of Yang Qi, by either the deficiency of the kidney-yang or the Spleen-yang or heart-yang. Since the kidney-yang is the source of yang-qi in the whole body, the deficiency of the kidney-yang is the predominant factor responsible for the occurrence of endogenous cold. Manifestations of endogenous cold include weakness, pale complexion, lack of libido, aversion to cold, underweight, low energy, poor circulations, etc.

To recover from a Cold invasion, we need warming and dispersing foods and herbs.

Reference: https://tcmwiki.com

Written by Five Seasons TCM

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