Did You Ever Wonder What the Chinese Meant by 'Wind?' Posted on 29 Dec 09:22

Did you ever wonder what the Chinese actually meant by external pathogenic Wind? It puzzled me for a long time---about 38 years to tell the truth. I used to have a patient in England who lived in a basement flat which had no windows and which was deep enough that no sounds could be heard from outside. She reacted terribly while in that basement, and even asleep, when storms would come through, which, of course, in England was plenty frequent. I believe I finally have figured out what the Chinese really were conceptualizing.

Meteorologically-speaking, wind occurs as a function of barometric pressure gradients. Except for tropical cyclones, like hurricanes, wind always flows from higher pressure to lower pressure. This sometimes means that even imperceptible differentials can cause the air to flow and we can't necessarily feel it when it does, nor does it seem that such low forces could possibly be a provocation as the speed is just too low to reasonably be expected to cause someone extra pain. Yet it does. So what's going on?

As you're no doubt aware, the human body is made up of between 50 to 90 percent water, depending on factors like age and condition. A great deal of the water in the body is bound up in cartilage and collagen, whose condition strongly affects joint and muscle health. In addition, fluids, of course, fill the individual cells, the blood vessels and interstitial spaces as well as the spaces where cerebro-spinal fluids are found. These fluids always have common atmospheric gases like oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide dissolved in them. When the atmospheric pressure drops, according to Boyle's Law, the dissolved gases will expand and cause the fluids in which they're dissolved to expand, pressing those fluids outward against sensitive nerve endings, producing pain. Similarly, when the pressure rises, the volume occupied by those dissolved gases will contract and change the amount of pressure exerted inwardly by the surrounding tissues, again, although less so usually, producing discomfort. Interestingly, according to a person familiar with things obstetrical, when there is a low pressure system some pregnant women's waters break prematurely. If they come to the hospital they are given drugs to stimulate labor, though the cervix is not ready. Almost inevitably this leads to C-sections.

So, these barometric dynamics are what the Chinese named external pathogenic Wind all those thousands of years ago. It's easy to understand why if Wind is combined with Dampness, why this double whammy is so painful in cases of joint and muscle pain. So the EP Wind also has a physical basis after all and is surely another example of just how clever our medicine really is.