A restructuring of Warm Disease names (QBW)

June 19th, 2011

By: Qin Bo-Wei
Translated By: Jason Blalack

The names in the warm disease current are extremely complicated. Besides the name, warm disease itself, there is wind-warmth, spring-warmth, summerheat-warmth, autumn-warmth, winter-warmth, damp-warmth, warm-epidemic, warm-toxin, warm-malaria, as well as lurking summerheat, autumn-dryness etc. All of these are within the scope of warm disease.

I think that these should be restructured with some added explanation. Only after we rectify these terms will we be able to perform some judicious pruning.

  1. Spring-warmth: Warmth is the qi of spring and the onset of warm disease mostly occurs in the spring season. In the Inner Classic it clearly points out that “[if the disease occurs] before the summer solstice then it is warm disease.” This shows that spring warmth is a seasonal disease of springtime, but one that has been influenced by “damage from cold during winter”; most people regard spring warmth as a lurking pathogen warm disease.
  2. Wind-warmth is a newly contracted warm disease that occurs in spring. Ye Tian-Shi said “Wind warmth is a result from the contraction of wind during the spring months, when the wind’s qi is already warm.” In fact, “wind-warmth” is the true springtime warm disease, since “spring warmth” was the name used for the lurking pathogen that manifested in the springtime. They had to have a new name (e.g. “wind warmth”) for a simple exposure to warm pathogen in the springtime because [the most logical name] “spring warmth” was already taken.
  3. Summerheat-warmth is a warm disease that occurs in the summer. It is caused by summerheat combined with damp heat. Therefore summerheat that has a tendency towards warmth is called summerheat-warmth. Summerheat that has a tendency towards  damp is called damp-warmth. These are different than the general warm disease outline.
  4. Autumn-warmth is a newly contracted warm disease that occurs in the autumn.
  5. Winter-warmth is a newly contracted warm disease that occurs in the winter. It commonly comes about because of seasonal qi warmth.
  6. Damp-warmth is a pattern related to a warm pathogen confined with dampness.
  7. Warm-epidemic is a heat type presentation related to seasonal epidemics.
  8. Warm-toxin is a pattern related to wind-warmth that manifests with local redness, swelling, and heat type pain, such as swollen face epidemic (大头瘟 da tou wen), epidemic parotitis (蛤蟆瘟 ha ma wen) etc..
  9. Warm-malaria is a warm pathogen that forms into malaria.
  10. Lurking summerheat refers to a summerheat-warmth disease that erupts in the autumn, and is actually a pattern of autumn-warmth confined with dampness.
  11. Autumn-dryness refers to a pattern of dry heat in autumn that actually has nothing to do with warm disease.

If this type of explanation is correct then my opinion is that after we resolve newly contracted and lurking pathogen issue, then spring-warmth, wind-warmth, summerheat-warmth, autumn-warmth and winter-warmth all can be unified. Damp-warmth, warm-epidemic, warm-toxin can be preserved [as their own disease]. Lurking-summerheat and autumn-dryness should belong to the scope of summerheat disease and dry disease [respectively]. Warm-malaria should be in the scope of malaria. Our forefathers  realised that these all belong to externally contracted heat diseases. However, their classification methods were fairly problematic.

Hence, if we could unify cold damage and warm disease theory, systematise warm disease theory, sort out the summerheat, autumn dryness and epidemic pestilence patterns, then Chinese medicine’s externally contracted disease theory could be integrated.

In regard to the issue of warm disease systematisation, the beginning of the book. The Importantly Revised and Expanded Discourse on Warm-Heat Disease (Zhong Ding Guang Wen Re Lun) points out “five methods for differentiating warm-heat diseases”. Immediately  following are the “treatment methods for the fundamental warm-heat disease pattern”, “treatment methods for concurrent warm-heat disease patterns” and “treatment methods for warm-heat complicated patterns”. That is, this “fundamental warm-heat disease pattern” is caused by a single basic warm disease pathogen. The book presents this fundamental presentation and its transmutations.

Thus there is the basic pattern with its possible associated pathogens (e.g. wind, dampness, toxin), as well as conditions that may complicate this basic pattern such as phlegm-water, by blood amassment, or by Spleen deficiency or Kidney deficiency. This type of organisational method enables one to understand the overall picture, as well as aiding in differentiating the primary and secondary issues.

By using such academic thinking and analysis of these issues, we have a relatively more advanced understanding as [compared to the past].

This article was originally published in The Lantern, Volume VIII, Issue 2 — 2011, as part of a larger essay entitled Some issues in warm disease Three essays from Qin Bo-Wei. Three essays from Qin Bo-Wei.

Original Essay from: Some Ideas I Have Learned About Warm Disease published in 1963.

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