Summer-Heat as a pathogenic factors in Chinese Medicine

Summer-Heat as a pathogenic factors in Chinese Medicine

Chinese: 暑      Pinyin: Shǔ

Summary: Summer-heat is another form of Fire, but is more extreme and occurs in the summer. It is purely an External Pernicious Influence and results from exposure to extreme Heat. In the West it is known as heat stroke.

Summer-Heat is Yang in nature and is scorching hot. It is acute and tends to rise and disperse. As heat stroke it causes high fever, dizziness and nausea.

Summer-Heat is a Yang Pernicious Influence and, as such, it tends to injure Yin. This Pernicious Influence is different from the five others in two ways: first, it is definitely related to a specific season since it can only occur in the Summer; secondly, it can be only an external pathogenic factor with no internal equivalent.

Overexposure to Summer-Heat causes profuse perspiration and then exhausts Qi and Body Fluids. It is usually accompanied by Dampness since it can be caused by hot-humid climates or Heat reacting to the body's Damp-Heat environment. In this case, both the Heat and Dampness must be treated.

The possible symptoms are: 

  • Sudden, very high fever
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Aversion to cold
  • Irritability
  • Nausea / uncomfortable sensation of the epigastrium
  • Extreme thirst
  • Lassitude / Exhaustion
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fainting / Coma / Loss of consciousness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Delirium
  • Depletion of fluids
  • Tongue Red in the front or sides with a white sticky coating
  • Soggy and Rapid pulse

Summer-Heat invades the Exterior of the body and that is why there is aversion to cold (even though the exterior Heat is intense). However, it has the strong tendency to move to the Qi level and that is why there are symptoms of interior Heat such as irritability, thirst, Red tongue and Rapid pulse.

In severe cases, Summer-Heat can invade the Pericardium and cause clouding of the mind, manifesting with delirium or unconsciousness.

The main characteristics of Summer-Heat

Summer-Heat injures Yin

Summer-Heat is a Yang pathogenic factor and therefore it has a strong tendency to injure Yin (i.e. to injure fluids).

Summer-Heat is a seasonal Pernicious Influence

Summer-Heat can occur only in the Summer and it can be only external (i.e. contrary to other external pathogenic factors, there is no internal equivalent).

Summer-Heat invades the top of the body

Summer-Heat invades the top of the body and for this reason there is a headache.

Summer-Heat is scattering

The scattering nature of Summer-Heat causes sweating.

Summer-Heat has some interior Heat

Summer-Heat has a tendency to move into the Interior very quickly and, for this reason, there are some symptoms of interior Heat such as irritability and thirst.

Summer-Heat harbours Dampness

Summer-Heat often harbours Dampness and, for this reason, there is a feeling of heaviness a feeling of nausea / an uncomfortable sensation of the epigastrium.

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