6 excess factors

Different people have different body types and different climates – you can probably recognise yourself in one of the types below.

Our individual body constitution can change over time and is influenced by various factors such as diet and environment. For example, weather can impact on the muscular-skeletal and energetic disposition of the body and in turn, the body can create its own internal climate.

In Chinese medicine we categorise all these factors into wind, cold, heat, dryness, dampness and summer heat. We call them the six excess factors and they describe how various disorders behave within the body.


Symptoms include sneezing, headache, and congestion. Wind also makes you more vulnerable to illness because if you are already feeling a little sick and your immune system is low, you are more likely to succumb to external causes of disease.


This can stagnate, slow and contract both your Qi  and blood. Excess cold causes symptoms such as chills, shivering, cold limbs, cramps and spasms and pain. Think about how easily you start to shiver and tighten up when you
feel cold.


This affects your body fluids, can cause mental disturbances and damage your Yin. Common heat symptoms are red face or eyes, thirst, fever, irritability, sweating and itching.


Most symptoms involve an organ or symptom being dry: a dry cough; dry skin; dry tongue; chapped lips; constipation.


This is often caused by living or working in a damp environment. Another way to look at dampness is as a stagnation or disturbance of fluids in the body. Your symptoms may include feelings of heaviness, edema, sluggishness, sticky phlegm and cloudy urine.

Summer Heat:

This only occurs when you are exposed to extreme and/or prolonged heat. The symptoms are typical of sunstroke: excessive sweating, shortness of breath.

In addition, you may also have a mixture of all of the above! Yes, you can have all too much heat in one channel and too much cold in another. This is called a mixed condition.

Whatever the imbalance however, there are some fundamental rules across the board – which we discuss in my book, Yang Sheng – the art of Chinese self-healing. The bottom line is this: your body will balance by itself with qigong, breath and work on your spirit.

All healing is a simple combination of purge and nourish. Clear away the toxicity and nourish up the organs and the symptom eventually melts away.  The longer the problem has existed, the longer it will take to resolve, but that simple principle of clear and nourish still applies. Everything that the body stores instead of processing, either emotional or physical, will ultimately lead to heat or acidity causing local inflammation of the nerves, joints, skin and muscles.