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March: Spring Pathogen

Wednesday, 01 March 2023 09:00

WIND - The Spring Pathogen
Rosemarie Niznik, DVM, CVA, CVSMT, CVFT, FCoAC 

Wind, cold, summer heat, damp, dryness, and fire (heat) are the six climatic changes found in nature. Under normal conditions, they do not produce pathological changes in the body and are thus known as the “Six types of Qi” in the natural environment.

These six types os Qi will cause disease only when the climate changes are sudden or extreme or the body’s resistance to them fails. When these six types of Qi are able to cause disease, they become known as the Six Excessive Qi: Wind, Cold, Summer Heat, Dryness, Damp, and Fire (heat). The Six Excessive Qi may affect the body alone or in combination. Diseases due to the Six Excessive Qi are closely related to the nature of the individual’s environment and the weather, especially seasonal changes.

Spring is the time for Wind; thus we will will discuss Wind as a climate change and pathogen.

WIND - The Primary Pathogen
Wind“Wind is adept at movement and many changes.” —Nei Jing

The Chinese character of Wind is composed of two parts: the outer housing representing the sound of ‘feng’ and the inner part representing insects. There is no better description or simile for microbes as insects - small creatures that can multiply rapidly, are blown apart by the wind and can emerge in plagues that destroy communities.

Photo - “The Uncharted Body”

Wind is produced in nature by differences in temperature accompanied by pressure differences, with the Wind flowing from high to low pressure and back again to find balance. Many of us know how it feels to have our faces slapped by a strong wind, or the eerie sensation that arises when the wind howls loudly and violently that the whole house shakes. But we also know the pleasure of a soothing breeze on a hot day.

“Wind in and of itself is not some inherently evil spirit as some may suggest; its impact depends upon the constitution and resiliency of the landscape through which it blows”.

Wind is the predominant Qi of spring but it may occur in other seasons. Many exogenous diseases are concerned with Wind, thus, Wind is considered the primary cause of disease. Wind is Yang in nature and tends to injure the Blood and Yin.

Wind is the number one pathogenic factor. Other pathogens, Cold, Heat, and Dryness all depend on Wind in order to invade the body. Wind transports the other Xie Factors into and around the body. Common TCM Patterns caused by Wind are Wind-Heat, Wind-Cold, or Wind-Damp.

“Wind is considered the “spearhead of all disease”, for it serves as a vehicle to carry other undesirable Influences into the body; yet, it’s worth noting, that with a shift in perspective, Wind can also be regarded as the spearhead of all growth.”

Wind is a Yang pathogenic factor. It distributes itself in an upward and outward fashion. It easily invades the body surface and the upper parts of the body including the head and face. The superficial attack results in abnormal opening and closing of the pores. Clinical manifestations include nasal obstruction, itching, sweating, and aversion to Wind.

Wind rapidly changes and moves. A disease due to Wind has no fixed place. Also, the clinical signs have an acute onset and subsequent changes in the course of the disease vary very quickly. Wind diseases resemble a sudden storm striking the woods leaving the trees swaying and trembling. Shifting leg lameness is an example of Wind- Damp. Skin hives due to Wind are swellings that may arise suddenly in many locations on the body.

Wind is characterized by constant trembling. And Wind can cause the opposite of paralysis and rigidity. The diseases due to Wind exhibit tremors and convulsions of the limbs or rigidity and stiffness of the neck.

“States of illness are akin to patterns of poor weather in the landscape of our bodies, and are named as such.”

The TCM practitioner must differentiate an Exogenous Wind disease from an Internal Wind Disease. Exogenous Wind is often related to the Lungs as they are the “tender organ” and easily affected by Exogenous Qi Factors carried by the Wind. Internal Wind resonates with the Liver Organ. The causes, clinical signs of External and Internal Wind Disease Patterns are summarized in following table:



Clinical Signs


External Wind

Wind invades from outside the body

Trembling appearance of scratching skin

Exogenous Wind or External Wind

Invades Lung Defensive Qi

Aversion to cold, fever, stiff neck, headache, sneezing, runny nose with clear discharge


Invades Lung Defensive Qi with Heat

Wind Cold + Heat signs of thirst, yellow mucus, red tongue


Invades Lung Defensive Qi with Damp

Wind Cold + Damp signs of body aches, muscle aches, swollen joints


Invades the Channels of face

Facial Paralysis

Invasion of Wind

Invasion of Yang Channels

Joint stiffness and pain, wandering joint pain

Wind Bi Syndrome

Internal Wind

Intermal organ dysfunction - usually Liver Organ

Spastic uncontrolled movements, convulsions, or seizures

Liver Wind

Acupuncture Points for Treating Wind

Treatment of External Wind involves extinguishing the wind by both strengthening the Qi to push out the Wind and allowing the Wind a route out. Not surprising, the points to clear acute wind are found on the external channels of the Du, Gallbladder and Bladder. Wind tends to affect the upper parts of the body and these points are found on the top of the body. They have the character ‘wind’ in their names:

Du 16 - ‘Feng Fu’ - Wind Mansion Bladder 12 - ‘Feng-Men’. Wind Gate Gallbladder 20 - ‘Feng Chi’ - Wind Pond


“As the emblem and instigator of Change, Wind is a constant force in our existence - one we habitually respond to in an effort to maintain balance. Our perception of its motive - as invasion or invitation, the nature of our response, and our internal landscape, accounts for any symptoms that may arise.

Our internal milieu, including immune health, as well as our relationship to change and chaos, influences how Wind affects us. When our defenses are compromised or we insist on control, Wind’s penetrating, capricious, urgent nature renders us more susceptible to its fickle threat.”


Xie, H. Priest, V., Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Fundamental Principles 2nd Ed, Chi Institute Press, 2013, p. 164-167.

Xie, H. Priest, V., Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine Fundamental Principles, First Edition, Chi Institute Press, 2007, p. 210-213.

Maciocia, G., The Foundations of Chinese Medicine, Third Edition, Elseiver, 2015, 727-732.

Kaptchk, T., The Web That Has No Weaver, Understanding Chinese Medicine, McGrall- Hill, 2000, p.150-152.

Kenown, D., The Uncharted Body: A New Textbook of Medicine, Original Medicine Publications, Tunbridge Wells, U.K., 2018, p. 126-131.