TCM: How 'Weather Pattern' Diagnosis Affects the Organs

IMG Credit: Ageless Herbs

IMG Credit: Ageless Herbs

Cold   Heat   Dampness   Dryness   Wind   Fire

Learning Chinese medicine means learning to speak about health phenomenon in a different language.  Diagnosing with terms such as Cold, Heat, Dampness, Dryness, Wind & Fire are what I call Weather Pattern diagnosis.  This is so because we are a part of nature, not apart from nature.  Patients who have pain in their knees made worse by cold, rainy weather are said to have Cold and Dampness inside their joints.  The Cold and Dampness occurring outside is making the Cold and Dampness worse inside.

It is very important to note that not all Weather Patterns affect all organ systems.  Simply, one must memorize which organs react to internal or external influences.  Most exterior patterns seen in clinic affect the Lung (with some attacking the Large Intestine, Stomach, Spleen and Liver).  Interior patterns of the aforementioned Weather Patterns can affect all organs except the Kidneys (which are diagnosed solely based on Qi, Yin, Yang and Essence).  Remembering that exterior patterns come from the outside, and interior patterns are created on the inside is important - especially in the case of building acupoint prescriptions and herbal decoctions.

This exercise is a great way to learn about all Chinese medicine organ functions and can be expanded to include Yin & Yang (deficiency of either), Qi (excess, deficiency, sinking, rebellious, scattered), Blood (deficiency, stagnation, heat, recklessness) and Body Fluids (excess, deficiency).  When combined with Weather Patterns, Interior or Exterior involvement, and Zang-Fu, this is called Eight Principle Diagnosis.  It is highly recommended that a practitioner become proficient at the complete Eight Principle Diagnosis, for it helps tremendously to think of complex Chinese medicine diagnosis analytically and progressively.

More information on Simplified Organ Diagnosis can be found in my Strength of TCM Workbook.

This topic of discussion came from a DM on Instagram.  As always, I am most grateful for the chance to help people from all over the world understand Chinese medicine.  The question took an interesting angle: I was asked if I could explain which organs were affected by which Weather Patterns, internally and externally.  I will work my way through the diurnal flow of Qi starting with the Lung.  I will comment on each bulletin whether the pattern is Interior (created) or Exterior (invasion) in nature.

- Lung-Dryness (Interior; precursor to Lung & Kidney-Yin Deficiency)
- Wind-Cold (Exterior)
- Wind-Heat (Exterior)
- Wind-Cold-Damp (Exterior)

Large Intestine
- Heat (Two patterns:
  - Heat in the Large Intestine; Interior
  - Heat Obstructing the Large Intestine; Exterior; due to febrile)
- Damp-Heat (Interior)
- Dryness (Interior)
- Cold (Two patterns:
  - Cold in the Large Intestine; Interior; essentially Spleen Yang Deficiency
  - Cold Invading the Large Intestine; Exterior)

- Cold (Two patterns:
  - Cold in the Stomach; Interior; essentially Spleen Yang Deficiency
  - Cold Invading the Stomach; Exterior)
- Fire

- Damp-Cold Invading (Exterior)
- Damp-Heat Invading (Exterior)

- Fire (Interior; Essentially SI-Heat & LV-Fire)

Small Intestine
- Heat (Interior)
- Cold (Interior; essentially Spleen Yang Deficiency)

Urinary Bladder
- Damp-Cold (Interior)
- Damp-Heat (Interior)


- Damp-Heat (Interior)

- Fire (Interior)
- Wind (Interior)
- Damp-Heat (Interior)
- Cold Invading the Liver Channel (Exterior)

In terms of the Zang-Fu, one may say there is no rhyme, nor reason, as to why each organ is affected the way it is.  However, after learning the functions of each organ it becomes more clear.  And after using these terms to describe health conditions over a period of time, a practitioner gets used to associating Qi, Blood, Yin, Yang, or Damp (just to name a few) to particular organ systems.  No different than memorizing the 28 poems or images that may present with the pulse, effort put into a complete Eight Principle Diagnosis will be well worth it.

Kenton Sefcik