Yin Yang Theory

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-13 (EDT)

See Also Naturopathic Therapies
See Also Traditional Chinese Medicine / Acupuncture

"Every phenomenon in the universe alternates through a cyclical movementof peaks and bases, and the alteration of Yin and Yang is the motive force of its change and development. Day changes into night, summer into winter, growth into decay and vice versa." [1]

Yin-Yang emerges out of oneness, this is the fundamental concept in Chinese medical philosophy. Yin-Yang represent complementary qualities that exist on a continuum; not opposite qualities. It is based on the flow of energy between two extremes. Nothing is purely Yin or Yang, but a combination of them both. Yin-Yang is an expression of a duality in time, the fluidity of a continuum, and the cyclical movement of all of life.[1] It is used to explain the quantitiative and qualitative aspects of nature, physiology, pathology, and treatments. The qualities of Yin and Yang include:[2], [3], [4]

Yin Characteristics

  • Aspects of the body: internal, inferior, front, left side (on the front), right side (on the back)
  • Organs: heart, lungs, spleen, liver and kidneys
  • Physiology: the five viscera, tendons and bones, breath - inhalation
  • Storage of energy from a physiological perspective
  • Yin is held within the inner body to nourish the organs, nutritive Qi
  • Purpose: structure, rest, to give, grow, regulate, spirits, fluids and blood, feminine qualities
  • Characteristics: yielding, nourishing, passive, feeling, intuitive, receptive, creative, listening, gentle, delicate features
  • External: darkness, shade, moon, earth, winter, autumn, west, north

Yang Characteristics

  • Aspects of the body: external, superior, back, right side (on the front), left side (on the back)
  • Organs: gallbladder, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, urinary bladder and triple burner
  • Physiology: the six bowels, skin, breath - exhalation
  • Utilization of energy from a physiological perspective
  • Yang stays in the superficial region to guard against foreign invasion, defensive Qi
  • Purpose: function, activity, to receive, break down and absorb, generate, and to transform, transport and change
  • Characteristics: motion, outgoing, transforming, responsible, expressive, steady, aggressive, action-oriented, large firm and fleshy body, coarse features, high energy
  • External: light, brightness, sun, the cosmos, summer, spring, east, south

Treatments Based on Yin-Yang Theory

Promoting a balance between Yin and Yang is a fundamental principle of clinical practice. The treatments based on this principle involve sedating the excess and toning up the deficiency. The Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine states "A hot disease should be treated by cold herbs; a cold disease should be treated by hot herbs . . . Yin should be treated in a Yang disease, Yang should be treated in a Yin disease."[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Maciocia G (1998) The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh.
  2. Kaptchuk TJ (1983) The Web That Has No Weaver, Understanding Chinese Medicine. Congdon & Weed, Chicago.
  3. Beinfield H, Korngold E (1991) Between Heaven and Earth, a Guide to Chinese Medicine. Balantine, New York.
  4. Lloyd Iva (2009) The Energetics of Health, a Naturopathic Assessment.
  5. Lu H (1994) Chinese Natural Cures, Traditional Methods for Remedies and Preventions. Black Dog & Leventhal, New York.