The Six Pathogenic Factors – Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée (4 sessions)


Four CPD classes of 2 hours each on the Six excesses (liu yin 六淫) 

Saturday 13 March 2-4pm
Sunday 14 March 10am-12pm
Saturday 17 April 2-4pm
Sunday 18 April 10am-12pm
(8 hours total)


Saturday March 13 2021 (2-4pm) : General Presentation and Wind (feng ) 

The qi of Nature, moving between Heaven and Earth in accordance with the rhythm of the Four seasons, is at the origin of all life and enables the transformations that maintain growth and development. It can be organised according to the Five elements or according to the Six variations of yin yang qi. 

When in excess, or not arriving at the right time, this becomes the six pathogenic or evil qi (wind, cold, heat, dryness, dampness, and fire) that can attack the body from the outside. They are the Six excesses (liu yin 六淫), which, despite their number Six, express the qualities of the Five qi of the Five elements. 

We will present the source of these six qi from the Chinese classics and expound the various evolving situations creating such pathological qi in general. We will see how the same qi can also act from inside the body, sharing the same features, ways in which it operates and its effects. 

We will study each of these pathogenic agents, starting with winda concept with many facets. As one of the Five normal qi which make life, it is associated with the wood element, the spring, the liver etc. As one of the 6 pathogenic qi, wind is characterized by erratic and violent movements, speed and variability, sudden changes, the absence of a fixed point, intermittent manifestations, dissemination and dispersion. Any illness involving characteristics akin to wind is called feng, such as a shock, a sudden attack or a disorder which spreads quickly. After a presentation of wind as part of the normal qi of life, we will focus on its characteristics as a pathogenic agent, both as external and internal wind, its relation to the other pathogenic agents, its main symptoms and its harmful effect on the organs. We will also present some diseases corresponding to an excess of wind, such as stroke, rash, facial paralysis, epilepsy and migratory pain, covering their aetiology and treatment.  

Sunday March 14 (10am-12pm) : Cold (han ) 

Injuries due to cold are one of the main causes of diseases, as the school of the Shanghanlun demonstrates. Associated with the Water element, cold can be the greatest manifestation of yin within the qi of Nature. Its yin nature directly opposes the nice warmth needed for life; as a pathogenic agent it develops yin effects: condensation, concentration, settling that becomes solidification, immobilisation, stillness, thickening and blockage when the yin dominates the yang pathologically. It slows circulation and weakens the ability to transform. Tightening leads to pain, often severe and localised. 

Following a presentation on cold as part of the normal qi of life, we will focus on its characteristics as a pathogenic agent, both as external and internal cold, its relation to the other pathogenic agents, its main symptoms and its harmful effect on the organs. We will also present some diseases which occur due to an excess of cold. 

Coupled with heat (re ), cold forms part of the eight diagnostic principles. Together, they determine the nature of the disease: Cold that penetrates from the outside, or follows a decline in yang qi on the inside, which leads to a yin situation where cold dominates.  Heat caused by an attack of external qi, or that appears on the inside, leads to a yang situation where heat dominates. The situation is often more complex since cold can change into heat and heat into cold, or they may coexist. 

Saturday April 17 (2-4 pm) : Heat (re ),  Summer-Heat (shu ) and Fire (huo ) 

Heat is yang in nature. Its effects on the individual are therefore an excess of what opens, rises, and diffuses, causing abundant sweating, raised temperature and fever, feelings of heat and discomfort or sometimes of oppression.  

After a presentation on heat as part of the normal qi of life, we will focus on its characteristics as a pathogenic agent, both as external and internal heat, its relationship with the other pathogenic agents, its main symptoms and its harmful effects on the organs. 

We will differentiate the characteristics of heat (re ) from those of summer heat (shu ) as well as those of fire (huo ) when they act as pathogenic agents. We will look at the characteristics of the pathology they produce and the major models for treatment and we will study several particular pathologies that are representative of the actions of heat and fire.  

We will clearly illustrate the different levels of the concept of fire (huo ), what they have in common and explain the specifics of fire as one of the Five elements, as the yang of life (as the fire of Mingmen), as a pathogenic agent. 

Sunday April 18 (10am-12pm): Dampness (shi ) and Dryness (zao ) 

Damp is an evil qi of yin nature, it is similar to water and mainly attacks yang qi. It obstructs and blocks movement of the qi, disturbs its rise and fall, renders viscous the circulations of the meridians and the vessels. It slows down communication, increasing the viscosity of fluids and the heaviness of the flesh and the tissues into which it seeps. It disturbs the rising of the Liver and the lowering of the Lung, the ascending of the Spleen and the descending of the Stomach, the movement of the intestines and the transformations of Bladder qi.

Dryness, zao , attacks fluids, dries water, and brings about deterioration of yin. It causes problems in fluid supply and moistening that result in dryness of the mouth, lips, tongue, nose, throat, and skin. Dryness brings on thirst and destroys saliva, removes lubricity of the skin and body hair, leads to constipation, and reduces the quantity of urine.  

After a presentation on dampness and dryness as part of the normal qi of life, we will focus on their characteristics as pathogenic agents, both as external and internal wind, their relationship with the other pathogenic agents, their main symptoms and their harmful effect on the organs. 
We will also present some diseases due to an excess of dampness and dryness, alongside their aetiology and treatment.  

These sessions will be recorded.

Date & Times

The classes will be held over four 2hr Zoom sessions to take place on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings as folllows:

Saturday 13 March 2021 2-4pm
General Presentation and Wind (feng )
Sunday 14 March 2021 10am-12pm
Cold (han )
Saturday 17 April 2021 2-4pm
Heat (re ),  Summer-Heat (shu ) and Fire (huo )
Sunday 18 April 2021 10am-12pm
Dampness (shi ) and Dryness (zao )

Total 8 hours CPD

For more information please contact [email protected]


£160 for four sessions.


Online via Zoom. Links will be sent to join each of the sessions. Sessions will be recorded.

Who is this course for?

This course is suitable for practitioners wishing to deepen their understanding, for students looking for a Chinese classical foundation (after a least one year of study and a knowledge of the basis of Chinese Medicine), and for anyone interested in the way in which life is organised in the body, according to classical Chinese Medicine.


Elisabeth Rochat De La Vallée

Elisabeth Rochat de la ValleeElisabeth is a well-known researcher and translator of ancient Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, and author of numerous influential books in several languages. She is a Member of the Board Ricci Association for the Grand Ricci; Dean of Study in the European School of Acupuncture (; Senior Lecturer of the E.E.A. (École Européenne d’Acupuncture); Lecturer on Chinese Philosophy in the Jesuit University in Paris (Centre Sèvres) and a Member of the French Association of Chinese Studies (A.F.E.C.).


After studying  philosophy, literature and classics at the Paris University where she completed her Masters degree in Classics and Philosophy, Elisabeth met Claude Larre s.j. who was working on his PhD thesis on the Huainanzi and translating the Laozi. As a result of his influence, she began to study Chinese and work with him on Chinese classical texts. She also studied modern Chinese with a native speaker and in 1974 spent a year in Taiwan to further her studies. She holds degrees in Chinese at the Paris University.

In the early 1970s she embarked on a study of Chinese medicine,  together with Father Larre and Dr. Schatz, a western physician with an interest in oriental medicine and the classical medical texts, beginning the first study group of the classical medical texts in Paris which led to the foundation of the European School of Acupuncture in Paris in 1976.

Elisabeth and Father Larre started to offer lectures, seminars and conferences on Chinese classical thought in France and several European countries. In the mid 1980s, Elisabeth began to accompany Father Larre on his teaching engagements in both the UK and the US. Her knowledge of the medical texts combined to Father Larre’s subtle understanding of the background culture and philosophy produced a unique teaching team. They also worked together on the Grand Ricci dictionary, completing the first publication – two volumes of single characters – in 1999. The complete work of seven volumes was finally published, under her direction, just before Father Larre’s death in December 2001. Elisabeth has continued to teach worldwide, working with both medical and philosophical Classics.


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