Feeling hot, thirsty, dehydrated or dried up?  Then it’s time to enrich Yin.

The concept of Yin and Yang are part of the founding principles of Asian Medicine (Chinese Medicine).  The two represent the dynamic opposites seen in nature.  In health, Yin and Yang exist in harmony in the body – as represented by the Yin Yang symbol. Troubles arise when one or the other is excessive or deficient.

The qualities of Yin

Literally, the shady side of the mountain, Yin is represented by the black section of the symbol. Yin represents the aspects of nourishing, cooling, moistening, calming and rest in the body. It is quiescence, stillness and rest.  In the body, the Yin organs rule over the water, blood and fluids.  It is the calming waters in the body.  It corresponds with the winter and cooler seasons

The qualities of Yang

Literally, the sunny side of the mountain, Yang is represented by the white section of the symbol.  Yang is hot, movement, growth, immaterial and bright.  It is activity.  In the body, the Yang organs rule over the creation of energy by transformation, fire and heat and corresponds with the summer.

Symptoms of Yin deficiency

When Yin is depleted it can no longer balance Yang’s exuberance – we literally start to burn up.   Symptoms include:

  • 5 Palm Sweet – soles of the hands and feet and the chest is hot. This pattern is seen in menopause, tuberculosis, mono, some gallbladder patterns and diabetes. It’s a tidal fever that comes and goes and the severity is based on the how little Yin you have to quell Yang. You may also see it call “wasting and thirsting syndrome”.
  • Anger and irritation
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis that is worse in hot weather
  • Constipation
  • Dream disturbed sleep
  • Dry, sore throat
  • Dryness – anywhere – skin, eyes, hair, nails, etc
  • Hot flashes
  • Flushing
  • Nervousness
  • Sensation of heat
  • Thirst

What causes Yin Deficiency?

Overall, Yin deficiency can come from an excess or a deficient pattern–let me explain.

Excess that leads to Yin depletion – too much Yang (heat)

In this case, Yin starts out balanced, but excess fire (Yang) burns up the water (Yin).  The fire’s too hot, baby.

  • Working and playing too hard relative to your health – Constant activity, even the fun kind, without adequate rest appropriate for your needs will burn you out.
  • Excessive hot or drying foods – Hot spices, alcohol, meats and dried foods dry up the fluids.
  • Excessive sweating or blood loss – loss of fluids, leads depletion of Yin.
  • Exposure to excessively hot or dry conditions–Deserts are hard on the Yin of the body.  Central heating and air conditioning make for interior conditions that will deplete Yin.
  • Excess childbearing or menses – Yin is required for healthy menses, fertility and childbearing.
  • Medical treatments – radiation, chemo, and many prescribed medications and treatments deplete the Yin.

Deficiency leading to Yin depletion – too little water (Yin)

In this instance, Yang is in balance, but lack of Yin nourishing fails to control the fire in the body.   The fire isn’t actually too hot, but the moistening and cooling of Yin isn’t enough to keep up.  Not enough water.

  • Lack of rest – Resting is doing something – it is recharging your batteries.  This can sometimes be a difficult concept in the American culture that often over emphasizes ‘doing.’ We need adequate rest and recuperation to be able to ‘do.’ Please go sit by a river or lack for a while – borrow a bit of the Yin of water to relax and recharge you.
  • Lack of fluids – Water is the best answer here really.
  • Lack of blood – Western definition – anemia.  Blood deficiency is common in women who have regular cycles and may not replenish after their cycle.  It is also common in vegetarians that are eating poorly.   As an aspect of Yin, if blood is deficient, Yin will be come so too.
  • Lack of vibrant foods – Vegetables and fruits are filled with water.  If your diet is all processed, refined, and dry you will lack moisture.

Lack of Yin can run rampant throughout the body or it can target specific areas.  The Yin organs, in particular, are vulnerable. For example a

  • Heart Yin deficiency will appear as agitation, palpitations, anxiety, nervousness and dream disturbed sleep.  The very tip of the tongue will be red and dry.  
  • Stomach Yin deficiency is a lack of fluids and enzymes to digest foods, leading to heart burn, GERD and burning hunger.
  • Lung Yin deficiency will appear as a dry cough, dry throat and sinus, hot flashes and burning sensations in the chest.
  • Kidney Yin deficiency – by the time Kidney Yin becomes Yin deficient we can be assured that several other organs are Yin deficient as well as Kidney is the root of Yin and Yang in the body. We will be looking for hot flashes and all wasting and thirsting disorders like diabetes and tuberculosis. Menopause is also a pattern of Kidney Yin deficiency.

Ideally, we want identify what patterns and organs systems are at the root of the problem to focus treat – whether we need to clear excess or nourish Yin.  But even without identify the exact root cause of the Yin deficiency, you can begin to replenish Yin which will help relieve symptoms.

How do you replenish and enrich Yin?

Drink Water

Water is the basis of life and Yin in nature.  You simply will not manifest Yin without proper hydration – and water is the best source. Watch out for sodas, coffee and some teas that can actually dehydrate.

Eat Yin nourishing foods

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • aloe
  • apple
  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • bamboo shoots
  • berries
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • Chinese cabbage
  • coconut
  • cucumbers
  • kelp
  • kidney bean
  • lemon
  • lettuce
  • lime
  • mango
  • melons
  • micro-algae
  • mint
  • mulberry
  • nettles
  • papaya
  • pea
  • pear
  • pineapple
  • pomegranate
  • seaweeds
  • sesame
  • spelt
  • spirulina
  • string bean
  • sweet potato
  • watermelon
  • wheatgrass juice
  • yam
  • zucchini and summer squash

The following foods are Yin nourishing but may be overly dampening–use with caution  of the following if you have phlegm, excess mucus or other damp conditions. Banana, cheese, egg, honey, milk, pork, rabbit, royal jelly, tofu, tomato & wheat.

Although shellfish is Yin nourishing, I often don’t recommend it because of the toxins.

Use Yin cooking methods

Steam, boil or eat vegetables fresh or raw.  Raw or cold foods may not be recommended for all clients, especially those with very weak digestions.  Grilling and baking are hot and drying and might be the opposite of what you want right now.

Rest appropriately

Going, going, gone.  If you are always on the go, you will deplete your yin, after time blood and other vital essences will follow.  Rest, take time to replenish, nap in the heat of the day if you can.  How much a person needs depends on their overall health, age, work and stress level.

Exercise appropriately

Exercise is vital to health.  However, it needs to be matched to the person.  Running Robie Creek may be ideal for some, but a someone just recovering from surgery or illness, it’s not optimal.  With Yin deficiency, I do not recommend clients run in the heat or do hot yoga.  Exercises that induce excess sweating will cause fluid loss–the opposite of enriching Yin. If you are unsure of what the right exercise is for you talk to your Asian medicine medicine practitioner.

Go to bed

For deep Yin nourishing you need the night – which is Yin.   Staying up late or not getting a full night’s sleep depletes Yin.  If you don’t take the time to rest you will end up running on your reserves – Kidney Jing (essence) and your adrenals.  These reserves are there for times of need, and you only have a set amount for life – choose wisely.  Ahhhh!   So don’t pilfer your reserves unless you must.  Many people use caffeine, chocolate and sugar to give them a boost.  Although this gives a blast of Yang (energy, activity) it does so at the expense of Yin.

Store it up

Just because you have a little energy to run or dance–don’t over do it.  Try to end the day without being exhausted!

Avoid drying and heating foods

Put away the curry and hot spices for now.  Leave out the alcohol, caffeine and dried packaged goods.

Stop over-thinking

Yeah, really.  Constantly thinking, worrying and mental activity depletes Yin.  Take a look at pictures of Einstein before his discovery of the Theory of Relativity.  Early greying or whitening of hair is depletion of Yin.  I’m not saying don’t create or don’t think.  Just recognize that mental overwork can deplete Yin.

Get near water

If you are needing to replenish Yin and fluids, use the element itself to help. Get the rivers, lakes or ocean. Use a humidifier or vaporizer to moisten the air you breath. Meditate by a river can be lovely.

Here’s to your Yin!

Be well,