Yin and Yang

Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine

Almost every Traditional Chinese Medicine text starts out with a discussion of Yin and Yang. At its origin the Yin and Yang symbol represents the idea that everything has an opposite and everything is meant to be in balance. In order to have light you must also have darkness. The symbol used to describe Yin and Yang shows them opposing each other but at the same time with Yin there is Yang and within Yang there is Yin. It also shows that Yin and Yang are interdependent and they transform into each other. Yin transforms into Yang and vice-versa. A good example of this transformation is the average day. At sunrise the day warms and gets brighter until high noon, when it becomes more Yang. Then as noon passes the day grows cooler to sunset and keeps getting cooler and darker until midnight this would be its most Yin point; then of course the day becomes more Yang as we head toward sunrise.


All the cycles of life can be described as Yin and Yang: the seasons, a pendulum, a sinusoid alternating current wave form. Simply throwing a ball into the air will demonstrate this concept as the ball starts out moving fast at its lowest point, but will stop when it hits its maximum height, and it will increase in speed until it comes back down to earth. The ball starts off in a very Yang state. It is moving fast, and that kinetic energy is converted to potential energy. As it reaches the pinnacle, it represents a very Yin condition which means it contains a lot of energy but has no velocity. Our annual cycle can be described using this concept and so can our very lives. As it turns out the whole of Chinese Medicine can be described in these terms. This medicine is all about balance in the body. It is important to note that when we discuss Yin and Yang that we are using relative terms. That means that a person who is cold would be considered in more of a Yin state than one of normal temperature; but a person of normal temperature would be considered more Yin than a person who is very hot.


Yin and Yang as applied to the body: Just as with building a fire, the fire itself is considered Yang. It is hot and bright where the energy is released. The fuel for the fire is considered Yin and the oxygen to that allows the fire to exist is considered Yin. Within the body this is also true. The actual motion of the body, the moving muscles, the actual processes are Yang while the Yin is the body fluids, the stored energy, the oxygen, and fuel required to run the body. Without the Yang activity of eating & digesting food the body would not be able to produce the nutritive substances needed to move in the first place. This describes a perfect conversion of Yin to Yang and Yang to Yin.


When you go to a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner or acupuncture physician, you might hear that you have a deficiency of Yin. It simply means that you do not have enough nutritive substances in your body to create the Yang you need to function properly. Often this is a matter of making sure you are consuming the proper nutritive substances or insuring that you are correctly processing the nutritive substances so that you can benefit from them. If a balance like this is not corrected you will become weaker. There is also such a thing as having excess Yin such as when your body gets too cold. In this case you have a lot of potential energy stored in nutritive substances but you just cannot convert it to activity energy or Yang energy. Excess Yang would be something like heat stroke where your body has a high activity, a high heart rate and perspiration, the body uses up its fluid trying to cool itself.


The body has a magnificent ability to self regulate, In Western Medicine we call this homeostasis. In my clinic I see a great many patients whose bodies are out of balance due to lifestyle choices. For example, regular exercise is a Yang activity that burns up excess Yin and helps the body fluids to properly move and flow. With a reduction in physical activity without a corresponding reduction in food intake, a Yin excess situation can occur and the person can become overweight or even obese.


So what does all this mean to you? Essentially it is the main message in Chinese medicine and that is to stay in balance.

You can do this by:

Breathing clean air
Drinking clean water
Eating healthy food
Thinking happy thoughts
Visiting you local acupuncturist for wellness visits once a quarter.

The basic message is (just take care of yourself and your environment)




By David Martin – Acupuncture Physician practicing holistic medicine serving Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples