Progression of Disease

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Latest Edit: Iva 2012-08-04 (EDT)

The concept of disease being a bi-directional continuum and progression of physiological states versus it being a specific point in time, is part of holistic and eastern systems of medicine such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic and Homeopathic Medicine.

When mild symptoms are suppressed, not addressed or properly resolved, or if the body is unable or not allowed to adequately eliminate toxins or maintain homeostasis, a worsening of symptoms often occurs, resulting eventually in chronic disease.[1]

The timing and progression of disease depends on a number of factors that are continuously at play, such as a patient's constitution, their susceptibilities, their adherence to the lifestyle factors, the strength of their personal essence and their exposure to factors that disrupt health.

The initial stages have symptoms that are more excretory and that appear in the more superifical areas of the body. Over time, as disease progresses, the symptoms become deeper and more internal. This coincides with the Yin-Yang theory that acute diseases are more Yang in nature, and chronic disease are more Yin.

The stages are as follows:[1]

  1. Constitution: which dictates a person's strengths, areas of susceptibility, vitality, and their uniqueness.
  2. Health: which indicates a person's ideal state of health, based on their age, personal essence, and health history.
  3. Accumulation or Excretion phase: Initial symptoms often involve a excretoy reaction and result in symptoms such as irritation or inflammatory, sweating, fever, infections, diarrhea, or acute muscle pain or weakness, or psychological disturbances such as mild anxiety or frustration. This phase will work throught the elimination pathways with the aim of regaining homeostasis, ridding the body of toxins and restoring health.
  4. Aggravation: As the excesses build at a greater degree than they are excreted or balanced, the signs and symptoms of disharmony become more intense and more constant. As the quality of one part or organ system of the body becomes exaggerated, it will result in the depletion of another and the hyperactivity of other parts.[2] Aggravation manifests in symptoms such as chronic inflammation, continual stiffness, chronic pain, or intense thoughts. At this stage, symptoms are still relatively easy to remove by addressing the initiating and aggravating factors, and improving lifestyle factors.
  5. Spreading: All organ systems and aspects of the body are a network, where one part feeds and nurtures another part. When a specific organ or part of a patient reaches its threshold, the aggravation spills over into other parts. The area of spread depends on a person's constitution, and the nature of the factors that are disrupting health. Symptoms at this stage are still fairly easy to clear if the person's vitality is strong.
  6. Deposition: It the appropriate steps are not taken to address the signs and symptoms of spreading, the symptoms will become more ingrained in the body. The patterns become more fixed and 'sit' in the areas of susceptibility or in the areas that are affected.[3] Cysts, fatty tissues, caculi, nodules etc. are the type of symptoms that result. Treatment at this stage needs to more aggressive and focused.
  7. Destruction: If the disharmony continues, and toxins within the body build, than tissues and physiological functions start to deteriorate and break down resulting in large groups of cells within an organ being destroyed, leading to significant organ damage. At this stage there is typically a definable disease. Examples include: diabetes, cirrhosis, auto-immune disease, cancer, etc.
  8. Death: Eventually the progression of disease leads to death.

The continuum is part of the transformation between health and disease.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lloyd Iva (2009) The Energetics of Health, a Naturopathic Assessment, Elsevier.
  2. Beinfield H, Korngold E (1991) Betwen Heaven and Earth, a Guide to Chinese Medicine. Ballantine Wellspring, New York
  3. Frawley D (1989) Ayurvedic Healing, a Comprehensive Guide Salt Lake City, Utah