Yin and Yang are underlying principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory and good health is believed to come when they are perfectly balanced. While Chinese Medicine can be complex, it simply nets down to the relationship of Yin and Yang. Chinese Medicine by nature is a preventive system of medicine: if one listens to signals of their body, they can return to harmony quickly by identifying imbalances.
What is Yin and What Does Yin Deficiency Look Like?
Yin is responsible for moistening and cooling the body. It is considered matter like blood, fluids, tissue. Yin depletion does develop slowly over several years, even times without symptoms until it is depleted (hint: this is why it’s great to see your Acupuncturist who can detect if you are heading down this path).
Yin deficiency is a lack of nourishment in the body which affects a person's ability to cool down, calm down, sleep, digest and much more. This Yin depletion disrupts harmony in the body.
One major clinical manifestation is dryness. We can keep our "Yin bank account" full by eating proper foods and living our best lifestyle (there are also herbal formulas that can help - read on). Natural Yin declines with age from the late 30s leading to dry skin, eyes, hair, nails and more if the Yin bank account is not tended to. You can check out this article here to learn more about general symptoms that may mean Yin deficiency.
What are the Different Kinds of Yin Deficiency?
Once a Chinese Medicine Practitioner determines there is Yin deficiency, she will then determine which organ system is out of balance. Below is an introduction to the types of possible Yin depletion symptoms due to different organ systems.
Kidney Yin Deficiency: Issues with the brain, bones, ear such as dizziness, vertigo, poor memory, tinnitus, low back pain or even imbalance in menstrual periods or fertility
Lung Yin Deficiency: may mean a dry, unproductive cough or blood-tinged phlegm. The mouth may also be dry. A long term cold or flu can also depletes the fluids of the Lungs
Stomach Yin Deficiency There may be a lack of appetite and the feeling of nothing that is appealing enough to eat. Tongue, lips, mouth and tongue may be dry. Bad eating habits such as eating while working, eating too quickly, or skipping meals also worsens this imbalance.
Heart Yin Deficiency: Palpitations are a common symptom of any Heart pattern, a fluttering uneasiness in the chest or feeling of the heart beating. Issues with insomnia, worry, anxiety may also be present.
Liver Yin deficiency with Liver Yang Rising: If Liver Yin is depleted, the yang becomes too abundant and “rises up.” There may be headaches, dry eyes, dizziness, tinnitus or emotions such as irritability and anger.
Yin Now, Yang Later
Autumn marks the beginning of the Yin cycle of the year so it’s important to have the real conversation to find out, “are you burning through your Yin?” Consider your lifestyle especially this time of year. This is the time to preserve Yin and build Yin (in the Northern Hemisphere).
There are holidays, there may be lots of travel, there are many opportunities to eat out. If Yin is preserved instead of used up, one will be ready for spring and summer. As DAO practitioners say: Yin Now, Yang Later.
Think about banking six months to one year worth of Yin savings.
Throughout your life, it is important to remember to take time to let your body and mind rest from the chaos of life and work. This will help prevent burnout and Yin deficiency due to overwork and little rest, also a surefire way to burn through Yin that depletes quickly as result of prolonged stress levels. Do stressful times outweigh the amount of time we spend at rest? List your activities that deplete you, and those who build you up. Which column is longer? Can you carve out time to restore and rejuvenate?
Build Yin Through Diet
One way to build and preserve Yin is through diet. Poor dietary habits can lead to Yin deficiency. It is important to ensure that stimulating foods are not being consumed, as these deplete Yin. This includes caffeine, alcohol, sugar and spicy foods. Think about adding in Yin nourishing foods. Helpful foods tend to be dark and black colored. A diet with plenty of seafood is especially beneficial for Yin deficiency. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
- Barley Risotto
- Pear Soup
- Pomegranate Pudding
- Sweet Potato Gratin
- Seaweed Elixir
- Adzuki Beans Burger
- Simple Salmon Recipe
- Coconut Milk Elixir
- Yin nourishing balls
Herbs for Yin Deficiency
The popular blend of DAO Lab’s Physical Tranquility can nourish yin, thanks largely to the 16 herbs that comprise this formula (inspired by Tian Wan Bu Xin Dan). The irritability and issues surrounding quality sleep due to yin deficiency can often be addressed with this formula. Moreover, the herbs help “calm the spirit” and “tonify the heart and kidneys”.