What is yin?
In Chinese medicine, yin is a major concept that represents the negative aspects of the universe: cold; dense, wet or damp substances; night; shadows, etc. Many of us have seen the classic tai chi symbol, which depicts the imperfect balance between yin and yang. Women are female principles and are associated with yin while men are associated with yang. Yang represents the positive side of the universe: energetic, ephemeral, warm, daytime, sunlight, etc. Yin and yang may seem simple to understand, but is actually a complicated academic topic in Chinese medicine. These two forces cannot exist without each other. They are in constant flux and transforming into each other ad infinitum. Our bodies possess some very yin organs with a minimal yang function or mechanism, and there are also very yin organs that, to the casual observer, may function more like a yang organ.
In general, the deepest aspect of the fluid part of our body is our yin. It is believed to be the basis of our deeper body substance or blood that creates/engenders blood. It comprises the denser aspects of our bodies. Each organ in our body is classified as either yin or yang organs. The yin organs are the non-hollow, denser organs like the pancreas, spleen, lungs, heart, kidneys, and liver. The yang organs are hollow organs such as the gallbladder, bladder, large intestine, and small intestine. The time of day influences yin, and twilight, evening and night are deemed yin. One yin activity is sleep.
When your yin organs are healthy, all throughout the day, your energy cycles will be smooth. Sleep is no problem for you and you sleep approximately 8 hours a night. You’ll have enough energy to tackle your work. Like our blood, our yin can stabilize our emotions. Managing stressful events (demanding jobs, domestic problems, financial worries, etc.) will not be a problem and it will help stave off activation of a stress response.
Symptoms of deficient yin that overlap with deficient blood are often worse. For example, both deficient yin and blood both usually result in fatigue. Deficient yin combined with fatigue can result in deeper fatigue.
Deficient Yin Signs and Symptoms
- Dry mucus membranes, dry skin, dry hair, dry skin
- Spontaneous sweating in the afternoon
- Frequent waking all through the night or difficulty staying asleep
- Night sweats
- Fatigue — deeper than fatigue associated deficient blood
- Hot flashes–especially in the afternoon and evening
- Five palm heat— This means that throughout the day, the soles of your feet and/or the palms of your hands will become periodically hot. When this happens, you may feel kicking your feet out from under the blankets throughout the night.
- Frequent nocturia (urination at night)
- Frequent urination throughout the day
What Causes Yin Deficiency?
Yin deficiency or deficient yin can be caused by a gamut of reasons. If people living in a dry climate do not utilize dietary measures to maintain their yin level, this will surely and slowly tax their yin.
Yin can be exhausted by refined foods, medications, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, over consumption of hot spices, prolonged periods of worry, living in a very noisy environment, stress, and extremely vigorous exercise.
A lot of wasting disorders, autoimmune diseases, and chronic illnesses will begin with a deficient yin picture or may develop yin deficiency along with other symptoms. These instances are innately more complicated and require guidance from of a trained health care provider. These conditions can be better addressed by including a few of the nutritional therapy below, but will require more individualized supervision than this article can provide.
Treating Deficient Yin with Food
Eggs, dairy, meat, broths and bone stocks, butter and other animal products can aid in the replenishment of yin deficiency. Meats are utilized more as a garnish than the main aspect of a meal. Certain meats like abalone, sardine, clam, oysters, duck, and meats can help rebuild yin. If you have a tendency to develop significant allergies or mucus, then stick to the animal products of butter, stocks, and broths, whilst you limit dairy, eggs, and meat.
Yin can also be replenished by eating a wide range of non-animal products. These products include watermelon, tofu, string beans, seaweeds, rice, raspberries, quinoa, persimmon, mung beans and their sprouts, millet, kidney beans, grapes, blackberries, black beans, beets, barley, banana, and amaranth.
As a rule, if you are diagnosed with deficient yin, you need to prepare your foods as congees, stews, and soups that definitely help in the regeneration of yin. Since the deeper fluid aspect of your body is yin, recovery can be speeded up by consuming more watery or fluid meals. Each day, try including soup to your meals, either as a side dish or main course. In fact, simply drinking a cup or more of animal stock or broth throughout the day can flood your body with fluids.
Various health concerns can accompany yin deficiency and this can result in complicated patterns within your body. Some examples of more complicated patterns include patterns that involve wasting diseases, problematic digestion, and lots of mucus and phlegm. For people suffering from complicated health issues with a deficient yin component, it may be advisable to seek nutritional guidance from a qualified trained Chinese Medicine specialist or acupuncturist. Some people will find consuming yin nourishing meats beneficial, while individuals suffering from complicated patterns may require a vegetarian approach.