Chinese medicine and the causes of disease

This ancient medical system has insightful and unexpected insights into what can lead to disease

According to the Eastern view, we are healthy when our bodies are balanced and harmonious. This balance is between yin (cold/water energies) and yang (hot/fire energies), our internal organs and our relationship with the external environment.

This harmony is constantly changing due to the activities of our daily lives, the way we manage our emotions, the way we treat our bodies, changing weather conditions, stress, environmental factors and the unpredictability of life itself.

In the Eastern model, the things that cause the body to lose its balance are the causes of disease.

People have always struggled with external and internal threats to their health. External factors such as the weather don’t usually cause illness, but when the body is weak or the weather changes too quickly for us to adapt, it can make us sick. For example, being outside in the rain and then entering an air-conditioned store can cause the cold to enter “inside” the body, making us sick. The next day we may wake up feeling sore and congested and we know we have something.

Other diseases are caused by internal factors, such as emotional disturbances and excessive sexual activity. But first, let’s talk about how Eastern medicine describes the body, health, and disease.

Chinese medicine is a philosophy drawn from understanding the nature of life and creation. He uses the language of nature to describe the causes of illness and the diagnosis: excessive summer heat, outdoor wind or indoor humidity. These terms may sound strange to our ears, but they describe the causes of common ailments in Eastern vision. It is simply the language used to describe what has been observed for thousands of years.

Emotional factors

It may seem strange to consider our emotions as a potential cause of disease. In the West, emotions are not taken into account when assessing the etiology of illness, but this seems to be changing as the widespread effects of loneliness, stress and depression are recognized as major factors. of the disease. However, in the Eastern view, the emotions and the physical body share a deep connection, each affecting the other. In the Eastern model, many organs have a corresponding emotion. Each emotion affects the whole body, but in particular its respective organ.

Organs and their associated emotions

Joy is associated with the heart, while anger and frustration are associated with the liver, sadness and grief with the lungs, worry and overthinking with the spleen, and fear with the kidneys.

Consider that someone has suddenly lost a loved one. Their grief may manifest in the lungs as shortness of breath, asthma, and coughing. It also works in reverse. Someone with a chronic cough may feel more melancholy than usual. The cough weakened the lungs, predisposing them to grief. It’s a constant cycle of interaction.

Another example is of someone prone to worry, which is possibly heightened due to an upcoming public speaking engagement. These feelings can manifest as digestive issues, such as bloating, gas, pain, and diarrhea. And again, the reverse is true. When we have prolonged digestive issues, it can make us more prone to worrying and overthinking.

Diet and eating habits

Eating a healthy variety of clean, nutrient-dense foods is essential for maintaining a healthy body, mind, and spirit. It also supports the essential functions of our internal organs and all physiological processes in the body. What we eat is actually an essential part of the treatment of disease in Eastern philosophy.

The amount of food and how often we eat are also important. Smaller, more frequent meals are better for you and easier to digest than one or two large meals. Sure, everyone is different, but we live in a culture with larger portions than necessary and never enough time to sit down and eat a meal properly, which is why digestive issues are so prevalent. Remember that the body likes consistency and moderation is key.

One thing that is unique to Chinese medicine regarding diet, in particular, is mindfulness. Western culture values ​​productivity and multi-tasking (which is not good for us), but the Eastern perspective has always valued doing one thing at a time, which greatly benefits the digestive system. Consciously preparing and eating a meal will increase its health benefits, as it allows the body to focus on digestion and assimilation.


Stress, as we are all well aware, is a part of life. Many medical professionals believe it is the cause of countless illnesses. One of the reasons stress can be so detrimental to our health is not that it exists, but how we deal with it. Unpleasant situations are inevitable, but how we deal with them is the key to healthy stress management. When stress overwhelms us, especially on an ongoing basis, it can wreak havoc on the immune system, making us more susceptible to disease. Fortunately, Chinese medicine offers tools to help us deal with stress in life.

Meditation. Meditation, in simple terms, takes us out of the chaos of life and allows us to calm the mind and center ourselves. There are several ways to do this: take a walk in nature, sit quietly or lie down. It’s amazing how taking 20 minutes to sit quietly can benefit the body, mind, and spirit. Meditation is a simple yet powerful way to deal with stress if you’re having a tough day or need a boost.

Tai chi. Tai Chi is another great exercise and a way to calm the mind, body, and spirit with graceful forms of movement, also emphasizing the breath. Tai Chi and Qigong are best practiced outdoors, as nature has a calming and grounding effect on the body, mind, and spirit.

Qigong. Qigong is a gentle, meditative exercise system similar to tai chi. Some forms are considered internal martial arts, while others are more spiritual in nature. Qigong has been practiced for thousands of years in China, and it’s an ideal way to calm the mind and body with its flowing movements and emphasis on breathing.


Fatigue is a common problem in the modern world. Many of us are overworked, over-stressed and don’t get enough sleep. Sleep is how our body heals, detoxifies and repairs itself. Getting restful sleep is vital for a healthy immune system and clear cognition. The intense nature of our lifestyles makes insomnia a common problem. Sleeping in a dark room with no electronics, not eating at least four hours before bed, and making sure you don’t hold on to emotions are all great ways to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Excessive sexual activity

This one always catches people off guard. Yes, you read that right – excessive sexual activity can cause disease. But, before the panic sets in, let me explain how it works.

We are all born with the “jing”, which our parents give us at birth. We only have a finite amount of it, so preserving it is essential for lifelong health and vitality. There are ways to supplement and support our jing, and we do this by living well and taking care of ourselves.

There are ways to “spend” our jing, like money in a bank account, and there is a direct correlation between spending our jing and growing old. For men, sexual activity often ends with ejaculation, which directly represents their jing or essence. Ejaculation is considered a loss of jing, but only when done excessively, without allowing the body to recover. Jing is consumed when women have children (which is normal), but having too many babies without time to rest and regain strength in the meantime decreases jing and hastens aging.

The goal of this idea of ​​jing is that there is enough time between activities that cause loss (sexual activity for men and childbearing for women) so that the body can recover and the jing is maintained. Our body has innate abilities to heal and regenerate, but it must be given the time and resources to do so.


Parasites are as old as the world and most of us have them. It is estimated that 80% of adults and children have parasites in their gut. Although many people believe they are a problem in parts of the world with poor sanitation and insufficient access to clean water, parasites exist worldwide. Symptoms of parasites are pain in the abdomen, lack of appetite, diarrhea, gas, itchy anus (especially at night), bloating, emaciation and exhaustion. Parasites have a profound effect on the body, draining it of essential nutrition, leading to deficiencies and weight loss.

Various factors contribute to the disease, both internal and external. In the Eastern approach, some may be new to us. If we think of health as a state of balance, anything that breaks it can contribute to disease. Chinese medicine is medicine that teaches us to listen to our bodies, so we know when things are out of balance. We can then make small changes to bring ourselves back to a healthy state. Temperance is another.

Being moderate in work, play, food, drink, and our emotions are all ways to stay healthy now and in the future.