What is Pathogenic “Heat”? 了解“上火”

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.

Fire 火

Pertaining to Summer, Fire element, and Heart, Heat/fire can invade our body in all seasons. If we make a comparison between the fire and the heat, we can say that the heat is the manifestation of the fire and the fire is the nature of the heat. The following is a brief description of the nature and the characteristics of heat (fire) in causing disease:

 1. Heat/fire flames up 上火: Heat(fire) pertains to yang and tends to flame up, causing diseases marked by high fever, aversion to heat, extreme thirst, sweating and full pulse. It may also disturb the mind, leading to dysphoria, insomnia, mania, coma and delirium, etc. Since the pathogenic heat is responsible for irritability and rapid movement, the disease caused by it is characterized by acute onset and rapid transmission.
2. Heat/fire consumes Qi and impairs body fluid: If there is superabundant heat, it will drive body fluid out of the body in the form of sweat leading to diseases manifested by thirst, dry throat and tongue, dark and scanty urine and retention of dry feces.
3. Heat/fire causes convulsion and bleeding: Convulsion means that when fire-heat invades the body, it burns and scorches liver meridians, exhausts fluids, causes the loss of nourishment of tendons and muscles, resulting in the syndrome of liver wind stirring up internally, clinically manifested as high fever, coma, spasm of limbs, red eyes, etc. Bleeding means that when fire enters blood vessels, it accelerates blood flow and burns the vessels, causing abnormal flow of blood, manifested as various bleeding.
4. Heat/fire causes sores and ulcers: Fire can stagnate in local areas, causing sores, ulcers, redness, swelling, burning and painful sensation.

Endogenous Fire

The causes of endogenous heat (fire) are various. Wind, cold, dampness, and dryness can all transform into heat; mental upset and extreme changes of emotions that often turn into fire; predomination of yang and deficiency of yin that usually produce the endogenous fire and heat; and excessive qi frequently leads to fire as well. Manifestations of internal heat can include inflammation, agitation, anger, canker sore, red cheeks, acne, profuse bleeding during menstruation, bitter taste in mouth, etc.  

To recover from fire invasion, we need cooling and calming foods and herbs.



Reference: https://tcmwiki.com

Written by Five Seasons TCM


How does Dampness transform into Heat?

And, while Cold can cause Dry, how does Heat overcome the Cold?

Vaughn Health on Jul 31, 2022

What are cooling and calming foods/herbs?

Alexis on Jun 08, 2022

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