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Six Evils : I. Wind | II. Cold | III Summer-heat | IV. Dampness | V. Dryness | VI. Fire

What Are The Six Evils ?

The six climatic evils are:
Wind Cold Summer Heat Dampness Dryness Fire

They have the following pathogenic features:

The pathogenic features of the six TCM evils.

They are related to the seasons or working environment
For example, generally there are wind diseases in spring, summer-heat diseases in summer, damp diseases in late summer and early autumn, dry diseases in autumn, and cold diseases in winter. In addition, people who live for a long time in a damp environment tend to be easily attacked by the damp evil, and those who work long in an environment of high temperature tend to be easily attacked by the dry-heat evil or fire evil.
All evils can work alone or in combination of two more in attacking the body
Such syndromes like the common cold of wind-cold type, damp-heat diarrhoea, and wind-cold-damp blockage are examples of medical problems caused by a combination of evils.
In the course of causing disease, any one of the six evils can influence the others and can also transform into another kind of evil under certain conditions.
For example, the cold evil that enters the body's interior can be transformed into the heat evil, and the long-persisting summer-heat with dampness can be transformed into dryness evil.
The six climatic evils enter the body and cause disease mostly through the spaces located between skin and muscle, or the openings like nose and mouth. For this reason they are also termed the "six exogenous or outside evils".

Table 2
Evil Element Season
Wind Wood Spring
Cold Water Winter
Summer-heat Fire Summer
Dampness Earth Late Summer
Dryness Metal Autumn

Special Conditions

The Six Evils do not affect every person in the same way. Indeed, exceptionally healthy persons are not adversely affected by any of them. An "evil-excess" will attack the body only when and where it is weak and only when the protective-qi is deficient somewhere along the surface of the body. One of the purposes of preventive medicine is to keep the body resistant to such outside attacks.

Diseases of the six evils are most likely to occur under abnormal weather conditions, when the body is prepared for the dominant season and suddenly faces an opposite force. Sudden cold spells in mid-summer, for example often causes epidemics of influenza. Similarly, people who travel or move from a cold, dry place to a warm, damp climate are more vulnerable to invasion by local meteorological excesses than natives of the region.

Plague was a major problem during ancient time; therefore TCM learnt about epidemic diseases earlier and pestilential evils are blamed for it. The pestilential evil is a kind of pathogenic factor with intense infectivity. Attacks of pestilential evils are usually related to unusual climates such as droughts, floods, extreme heat as well as pollution. Epidemics occur suddenly with severe symptoms and are highly contagious.