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Traditional Chinese Medicine Causes of Illness

Other Causes of Illness
Ephedra is a traditional Chinese medicine herb that                              can have both positive and negative side effects.
Ephedra is a traditional Chinese medicine herb that can have both positive and negative side effects.

There are other causes of disease that don't fit within the categories of the six pernicious influences, the seven emotions, exercise, or nutrition.

Predisposition to Disease

We inherit our prenatal qi and essence from our parents. This genetic inheritance is outside our control, and it can be the determining factor in a number of ailments. For example, if a man's grandfather and father both died of heart disease in their 40s, he will be much more likely to develop heart disease than a person with a similar lifestyle whose ancestors lived into their 90s. It is necessary for a person with a weak inherited constitution to pursue a very healthy lifestyle to avoid disease.

Accidents and Injuries

These causes of disease are self-explanatory. However, a person with strong qi and blood will recover from injuries much faster than a person who is deficient in these vital substances. Traditional Chinese medicine is especially effective in treating injuries of all types.

Side Effects of Medical Treatments

This is especially common with Western medicine, where the list of possible side effects for a drug might fill two pages of text. A recent study found that in some hospitals, as many as 30 percent of patients at any given time are receiving treatment for the side effects of the drugs they're taking. Herbal medicine can be very helpful in reducing many of these side effects; cancer patients in Chinese hospitals, for example, are routinely prescribed herbs to help counteract the side effects of chemotherapy.

Although herbal medicine is exceptionally safe, side effects can occur, although they are rarely serious. For example, many herbs are hard to digest and can cause loose stools. An herbalist takes this into account when preparing a formula for a patient, adding specific herbs to counteract these side effects. If herbs are improperly prescribed, on the other hand,the side effects can be more severe. For example, a person who suffers from high blood pressure should never be given the herb Ephedra (ma huang), since it can cause a rise in blood pressure. For this reason, traditional Chinese medical texts also list formulas that are used to counteract the effects of improper treatments.

For more about traditional Chinese medicine, treatment, cures, beliefs, and other interesting topics, see:


Bill Schoenbart has been practicing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) since 1991, when he earned a Masters degree in TCM. He teaches TCM medical theory and herbalism at an acupuncture school in California, and also maintains a clinical practice.

Ellen Shefi is a licensed massage technician, licensed acupuncturist, and registered dietician. She is a member of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the American Herb Association, and the Oregon Acupuncture Association.