The Six External Evils

The six seasonal excesses affecting our health

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The extremes in seasonal climate are known as the six excesses or the six evils. They can invade our body through the mouth, nose and skin. Once these evils have entered our body, if they are not being kept under control quickly, they can become internalized and will be very difficult to evict. Therefore, it is important to understand how to protect our body from these evils.  

windWind Evil

Spring is the time of wood and is the season of wind excess. The gusty wind scatters seeds around in order to start a new season of growth. In spring, our bodies are also undergoing a new season of growth and development and will require plenty of blood and energy from our livers to support the process. With our livers working extra hard at this time of the year, they become most vulnerable and can be easily subjected to wind injury. Excessive wind in our body can cause other problems such as cold/flu, headache, muscle pain and itchy skin. When excessive winds travel inwards, they can cause internal wind injury such as vertigo, tremor, headache, seizure and stroke. They all have typical symptom of pain moving around the body.

Therefore, it is important not to take off warm winter clothing too quickly with the first sign of spring because the weather can move back and forth for weeks before finally getting warmer. When the wind outside is blowing too gustily, it is better to take shelter inside and take more warm foods and drinks.

fireFire and Heat Evil

Summer is the season of fire with immense heat and plenty of sunshine to support the peak growing season. It is a time of heat and fire excesses. The effects on humans can be very serious. When heat invades the surface of our bodies, profuse perspiration, skin eruption, red face and eyes occur. When heat gets internal, it can accelerate metabolic rate, dilate blood vessels and increase speed of circulation. When heat becomes excessive, it can cause increased inflammation, rapid pulse and fever. It can also affect our emotions and results in anger and rage. The heart is associated with fire and is most vulnerable for attacks in summer.

Symptoms of excessive internal heat condition can be great thirst, dry skin and hair, constipation, difficulty in urination, agitation and no desire for hot food. It is important to be sensible about sun exposure during summer and to eat plenty of cooling summer fruits and vegetables to keep the body cool.

wetDampness Evil

Late summer is the season of earth and is the season of high precipitation and humidity. Dampness is like stagnant water which is sinking and accumulating. It can cause heaviness and swelling to the body which can obstruct circulation. External dampness results in oily skin, sticky perspiration and swelling around the joints. Internal dampness can result in the loss of appetite, indigestion, phlegm, abundant discharge of mucus, water retention and edema of the abdomen and extremities. The lingering influences of dampness are difficult to treat and can last for a long time. Dampness attracts other evils such as cold, heat or wind to attack the body.

Late summer is associated with our spleen system which has to work extra hard to expel excessive dampness from either the climate (high humidity) or from our diet with too much water intake to counter the summer heat. Therefore, it is important not to take too much icy drinks and cold foods which can cause indigestion and further damages to the spleen and stomach system.

dryDryness Evil

Fall is the season of metal and is the season for excessive dryness. When dryness dominates the atmosphere, it irritates our lungs and causes respiratory problems. It exhausts our internal fluids and causes dehydration. External dryness results in brittle hair and nails, cracked and wrinkled skin, irritated eyes, dry cough and asthma. Internal dryness causes dry stool and constipation, scanty urine, loss of fluid and blood.

Our lungs are most vulnerable to dryness attacks. It is important to eat moisturizing foods in fall in order to promote the production of vital fluids for lubricating the lungs and our internal systems.

coldCold Evil

Winter is the season of water and is the season of cold excess. When our body is attacked by external coldness, it shivers, produces clear and transparent mucus, slows down and may result in sharp pains. When coldness turns internal, it can block the flow of blood and qi, and suppress metabolism and circulation.

It is important to eat warming foods and stay less active in winter in order to preserve yang energy. The kidney is the organ that produces and stores yang energy and is most vulnerable to attacks at this time. Damages to the kidney can cause premature aging, impotence and infertility. 

The 6 evils are wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness and fire.