Yin Yang Acupuncture Theory and Clinical Applications

Yin and Yang are the two interrelated forces which together with the concept of Qi form the foundation of eastern medicine. Yin and Yang are mutually exclusive and together form a whole which in balance constitutes a state of harmony and health and when out of balance indicates illness. From a medical perspective, the relationship between Yin and Yang form the general basis for all diagnoses and treatment protocols. A clinical example would be a person who has Liver Fire signs such as headaches, flushed face and anger. In this case the Yin Yang relationship may be 70% Yang and 30% Yin, leading to excessive Yang symptomology. The information below discusses the Yin Yang theory and clinical applications in detail.

Basics of Yin Yang Theory

Yin and Yang:

  • Are opposite qualities
  • Never exist in isolation: Everything contains both Yin and Yang aspects, even extreme Yang contains the seed of Yin and vice versa
  • Never exist in a static 50-50 balance: While a theoretical ideal, in reality Yin and Yang are always in a dynamic relationship
  • Are always spoken of in relative terms: Antartica's climate is more Yin than Alaska's and Mexico's climate is more Yang than Ireland's
  • Are interdependent: One cannot exist without the other, they can be distinguished but not separated
  • Are mutually consumptive: Extreme Yin (cold/wet) extinguishes Yang (fire), extreme Yang (fire) burns up Yin (water)
  • Are mutually transformative: Extreme Yin ultimately transforms into Yang and vice versa

Yin Yang Relationships

Yin and Yang Pathological Relationships

Yin

Yang

chronic conditionsacute conditions
fatigue/tirednessinsomnia
dampnessdryness
cold/coolhot/warm
lethargicrestless
underactiveoveractive
weak musculaturetight musculature
lack of thirstthirst
palered
softhard
curled upstretch out
pale tonguered tongue
empty pulsefull pulse

Yin and Yang Constitutional Relationships

Yin

Yang

introvertextrovert
calm quiet environmentsstimulating energizing environments
prefers rest and balanceprefers socializing
lower blood pressurehigher blood pressure

Yin and Yang Body Relationships

Yin

Yang

bodyhead
organssurface
yin organsyang organs
blood and fluidsqi
lower bodyupper body
inside of limbsoutside of limbs
anteriorposterior

Yin and Yang Organ Relationships

Yin

Yang

solidhollow
store pure essences, vital substances (qi, blood, shen, jing)no storage - transform, digest and excrete impurities
yin organsyang organs

Pathology and Clinical Applications of Yin Yang Theory

From a clinical perspective the theory of Yin and Yang is used to help determine the overriding factors involved in a particular condition. A condition is most likely to involve the Yin energies of the body if the problems are present or aggravated during the evening. Conditions such as insomnia and night sweats, for example, are often Yin related conditions. If the symptoms occur during the day, the condition is more likely to be related to the Yang energies of the body. Symptoms of Yang deficiency include fatique, weakness and lethargy.

In accordance with the general principles of Yin Yang theory, there are four general patterns of disharmony.

Pattern

Symptoms

Excess Yin/Full Cold

60% Yin - 50% Yang, Full Excess Yin
Cold limbs, weakness, contracture, pain improved with heat, pale tongue, slow pulse
Excess Yang/Full Heat

60% Yang - 50% Yin, Full Excess Yang
Restlessness, headache, irritability, pain worse with pressure, red tongue, full pulse
Yin Deficiency/Empty Heat

50% Yang - 30% Yin, False Excess Yang
Signs of heat but arising from a deficiency of Yin, night sweats, heat in the 5 palms, insomnia, red tongue, thin and rapid pulse
Yang Deficiency/Empty Cold

50% Yin - 30% Yang, False Excess Yin
Signs of excess cold but arising from a deficiency of Yang, fatigue, weakness, pain which improves with heat and pressure, pale tongue, slow and weak pulse