The key “six evils” (Liu Yin) were defined as:
- Wind (Feng) – associated with spring.
- Cold (Han) – characteristic of winter.
- Heat (Re) – summer heat (Shu), linked to high summer.
- Dampness (Shi), most associated with the rainy season in late summer.
- Dryness (Zao) – typical of autumn.
- Fire (Huo) – like heat, is associated with hot conditions. However, but while heat is a seasonal “evil” occurring only in summer-like weather, fire can occur at ony time.
Symptoms of six eveils
These evils each had their characteristic symptoms. For example, fevers and chills from hot and cold or a shifting pattern of pain related to wind. An attack of dampness was characterized by symptoms like runny catarrh or oedema, while heat was the explanation for summer fevers. A cold spring was regarded by Chinese physicians as likely to herald cold related disorders.
These six evils can also attack in combination. Most common are wind-cold and wind-heat, perhaps with the addition of damp.
Herbs to combat the six evils
The major herbs for exterior conditions ( i.e. to counter the six evils ) are classified into two groups:
- warm / pungent herbs for dispelling wind-cold; and
- cool, pungent herbs for wind-heat.
Among the warm, pungent group are:
Ma Huang, Gui Zhi, Zi Su Ye (perilla leaf, Perilla frutescens), Fang Feng (Ledebouriella sesloides), Qiang Huo [Notopterygium incisium), Gao Ben, Bai Zhi, Sheng Jiang, Xin Yi Hua (Magnolia liliiflora), and Cong Bai (spring onions, Allium fistulosum).
Herbs for clearing wind-heat are:
Bo He, Niu Bang Zi, Sang Ye, Ju Hua, Ge Gen, Chai Hu (Bupleurum falcatum), and Sheng Ma (Cimicifuga foetida).
Notes: In TCM, childhood ailments are regarded as simple exterior conditions. Only those herbs suggested for these conditions should be used at home. Give one-quarter of the adult dose for children aged 3-4. Increasing to one-half by age 9-10. For very young children seek professional guidance.