Tracing the Patterns of Wind

Tracing the Patterns of Wind

As a truly holistic approach to healing, TCM constantly holds up a mirror to the interconnections between the state of our bodies and the conditions of our environment. Wind could be understood as the epitome of such a mirror, referring to both an external weather pattern and an internal element of disharmony. Since Wind is associated with the Spring season, we are most vulnerable to the invasion of Wind during this time of year—from the external to the internal. Considered a primary cause of the “one hundred diseases,” according to the Huang Di Nei Jing, a foremost Chinese medical text, Wind plays a critical role in the dynamics of sickness and health. 


Wind is one of the six external pathogenic forces that can affect the body's balance, but it is arguably the most important. The others (Cold, Heat, Dampness, Dryness, and Fire) are seasonal, while Wind is present all year long. It’s also considered the primary exogenous pathogenic factor because the others utilize Wind as a carrier to enter and attack the body. When Wind invades, the body's defensive capabilities are weakened, allowing disease-causing pathogens into our bodies; it then channels the movement of these pathogens so that they can effectively attack and injure Qi. The centrality of Qi to our experience of vibrant health helps explain why Wind is a foremost cause of disease and the greatest obstacle to healing in TCM.


Entering primarily through the pores of our skin and traveling through the meridian channels, Wind invasion is associated with issues like colds, flus, and allergies, but it also plays a foundational role in chronic health issues. This points to yet another internal/external distinction, as there’s a difference between invading Wind and internal Wind, though, quite predictably, the two are often interconnected. Although incredibly complex, the parameters of Wind imbalances can be simplified to include conditions involving sudden onset, rapid change, or issues of movement. According to Subhuti Dharmananda, an herbalist and acupuncturist who founded the Institute for Traditional Medicine and Preventive Health Care, these include: 


  • Issues of excess bodily movement: epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Conditions with symptoms that appear in different parts of the body at different times: early-stage rheumatism involving varying joints or skin rashes that appear in different places.
  • Diseases involving loss of movement: stroke, paralysis, tetany, and coma.
  • Various pain, numbness, and spastic syndromes, including headache, toothache, limb numbness, tendon spasms, arthritis, and deep bone pain.
  • Acute conditions: common cold, influenza, sinus infection, skin eruption, sore throat, cough, eye disorders.
  • Diseases that affect the surface of the body: chronic eczema, leprosy, scrofula, hair loss.


Covering quite the range, the patterns of Wind are clearly dynamic. Invading Wind can lead to internal Wind, and internal Wind can likewise cause enough internal disharmony that creates susceptibility to external Wind invasion. External Wind generally attacks the Lungs first, unless it strikes in Spring, in which case it attacks the Liver first. During this time of year, the Liver faces increased susceptibility to Wind, which can agitate our Liver energy and cause flare-ups of health issues, including those that are chronic or recurring. 


To defend against Wind invasion, incorporate protective herbs like Reishi, Schizandra, and Astragalus. It’s also important to create physical barriers to Wind, including by wearing layers to protect the back of the neck, feet, lower back, and abdomen, especially when exercising and sweating—signifying open and vulnerable pores. We can help keep the meridian channels flowing by moving away from rich foods and excessive drinking, which causes phlegm that’s dangerously exacerbated by Wind. Take care to transition to a more Spring-appropriate diet focused on ease of digestibility. Finally, try to stay open and attentive to the Winds of change—both the new energy that is blowing in, as well as old beliefs and habits that want to be released.