Yin and Yang
WHY are Yin and Yang Important to human health?
It is important to understand what Yin is and what Yang is, how they work in the universe and how they influence our overall health. There are four aspects of the relationship of Yin and Yang: opposition, interdependence, mutual consumption, and inter-transformation. These aspects indicate that Yin and Yang are opposite, but they cannot exist without one or the other. The comparison that is often made to describe this relationship is day turning into the night, in that, Yin transforms into Yang; and night turning into the day, in that Yang transforms into Yin (Wang, 2017).
What are Yin and Yang specifically?
how do they exist in nature?
According to Merrian-Webster, Yin is:
"The feminine passive principle in nature that in Chinese cosmology is exhibited in darkness, cold, or wetness and that combines with yang to produce all that comes to be"
"The masculine active principle in nature that in Chinese cosmology is exhibited in light, heat, or dryness and that combines with yin to produce all that comes to be"
In correspondence with the ancient Chinese theory, Yin is a passive, negative force; Yang, on the other hand, is an active and positive force. The interactions of these two forces in the universe produce the five essential elements of life: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. Some correspondences of these two forces that can be observed in Mother Nature are the moon and sun, winter and summer, cold and heat, wet and dry, dark and luminous, hard and soft, heavy and light, etc (Wang, 2017). The Yin-Yang relationship can also be seen inside the human body, such as in the Liver-Gall bladder, Heart-Small Intestine, Spleen-Stomach, Lungs-Large Intestines, and Kidneys-Urinary Bladder (U.S. National Institute of Health, 2012).
What are Yin and Yang in TCM?
Yin and Yang act as the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in determining how human health works. The theory is used for making a diagnosis and treating illnesses. The concepts of Yin and Yang were first introduced in an ancient Chinese book called, Yi Jing, which means the Book of Changes (Wang, 2019). TCM is a system that believes everything in life is interconnected, just like Yin and Yang. Therefore, if the body parts function like how they are supposed to, then they are in harmony. On the other hand, if a part doesn’t function correctly, it creates a disturbance throughout the human body. This harmony could also be applied to the societal aspects, such as family, community, and/or the environment (University of Minnesota, 2016). It means that both Yin and Yang have to flow smoothly within the body or the environment to maintain health and homeostasis.
When speaking of the human body, the fluctuation or imbalance of Yin and Yang can create illnesses. An example is due to Yin being cold, and having an excess of Yin can cause illnesses, such as insomnia (Wang, 2019). Furthermore, having Yin deficiency may cause general dryness, which can lead to stagnation of thick fluids, such as blood. When the Yin is balanced, the skin would be more plumped and elastic (Thambirajah, 2009). On the other hand, since Yang is heat, having a Yang deficiency could result in cold limbs and a pale complexion (Wang, 2019). Differently, having an excess of Yang means having excess heat from the interior and exterior of the body; therefore, causes dryness as well (Beijing Tong Ren Tang, 2014).
What modalities do TCM doctors or acupuncturists use to achieve Yin and Yang balance?
As a way to achieve homeostasis of Yin and Yang, acupuncture is one of the modalities that is practiced in TCM. The question that you may ask is, "what is acupuncture?" According to the University of Minnesota (2016), acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles that can be made from stainless steel, gold, or silver, to a specific point in a meridian that can influence the circulation of the human body (para. 1). Acupuncture is based on the flow of "Qi," which is the manifestation of Yin and Yang, through the meridian system called, "Jing Luo" (University of Minnesota, 2016). Modern science has found evidence pieces that confirmed the effectiveness of acupuncture; that, "the acupuncture points contain dramatically decreased electrical resistance, as compared with the surrounding skin" (The American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, aka AAAOM, 2021, para.7). Acupuncture research has improved over the last decade. National Health Institute (NIH) states that "there is sufficient evidence of acupuncture's value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value" (AAAOM, 2021, para. 37). With this claim from the United States' Health Institute, one can be assured that acupuncture is not too strange to Western Medicine, but it can also be incorporated into our healthcare system as it is less invasive to treat illnesses. Moreover, acupuncture stimulates the human brain to naturally release endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which help to reduce pain and stress, and fight inflammation. It also stimulates the nervous system and promotes energy circulation within the human body (AAAOM, 2021).
Why is it important to see an experienced TCM doctor or acupuncturist?
Knowing how acupuncture therapy works is only half of the equation because it is more important to get a correct diagnosis from a TCM professional. TCM practitioners/acupuncturists have to be licensed by a rigorous accredited program in the US - National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). This organization offers a master's degree certificate and doctoral level programs in acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Furthermore, the academic curriculum is designed by the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM), to construct a program that can sufficiently educate its candidates (AAAOM, 2021). Acupuncturists have to keep up with their licensure education, which is a continuing education that requires physicians to get updated with the latest scientific supported evidence techniques.
If that reason is not compelling enough, this one should emphasize the importance of visiting an experienced licensed TCM practitioner/acupuncturist. Before acupuncture has proceeded, acupuncturists have to examine the human body from a holistic point of view to find out the exact place of the imbalance using the Four Examinations method (Si Zhen): inspection (Wang), auscultation and olfaction (Wen), inquiry (Wen) and palpation (Qie). Zang-organ-related Yin and Yang imbalance is difficult to be differentiated and is often mistaken. Unfortunately, this misdiagnosis creates a cascade of negative outcomes. Patients will probably receive inadequate or inappropriate treatment that will not alleviate the symptoms or impairment of the disorder and may even further damage their overall health.
The clinic director and chief acupuncturist at Rapha Acupuncture, Dr. Weon Seob Lee, holds a board-certified Diplomate in Oriental Medicine from NCCAOM since 2003 and is licensed in the states of Florida, Georgia, and California. He has been practicing TCM and acupuncture in 7 countries and states for more than 25 years. Check out Dr. Lee’s full bio here.
Give us a call to schedule a wellness consultation with Dr. Lee to find out Yin and Yang condition in your body.
American Academy of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, (2021). What is TCM? http://www.aaaom.edu/about/aomtcm/
Beijing Tong Ren Tang, (2014). Ying & yang in chinese medicine. https://www.btrt.com.au/en/content/yin-yang-chinese-medicine
Merriam-Webster, (n.d.). Yin. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yin
Merriam-Webster, (n.d.). Yang. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yang
Thambirajah, R. (2009). The blood, yin, yang and qi in all organs. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/yin-deficiency
The University of Minnesota, (2016). What is qi? (and other concepts). Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/traditional-chinese-medicine/what-qi-and-other-concepts
The University of Minnesota, (2016). What is acupuncture? Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/what-is-acupuncture
U.S. National Institute of Health, (2012). Classics of traditional chinese medicine from the history of medicine division. National Library of Medicine.
Wang, C., (2017, February 7). What are yin and yang correspondences? Acupuncture Massage College. https://www.amcollege.edu/blog/yin-yang-correspondences
Wang, C., (2019, May 9). Yin-yang in traditional chinese medicine | acupuncture and massage college | miami, FL. Acupuncture Massage College. https://www.amcollege.edu/blog/yin-and-yang-in-traditional-chinese-medicine