In my mind, real “summer” didn’t begin until mid-July, so I am really hoping that we have a warm September and a nice looooong Indian Summer!

In Chinese Medicine, early autumn is the time that Yang (pronounced Yäng not Yāng) begins to recede. Since the last newsletter focused on Yin (, I thought I would dedicate this one to Yang….

Yin and Yang are the two sides of the Tai Ji symbol ( Yin is black and Yang is white. In Chinese philosophy, the Tai Ji symbol illustrates the foundation for natural cycles and reveals relationships between the 24 hour day and the four seasons. Highest Yang (expansiveness, brightness) occurs at noontime / summer. Greatest Yin (contraction, darkness) occurs at midnight / winter. Because humans are part of nature, we flow with nature. Yin and Yang are therefore contained within us. It is my job to help you balance this opposing but complementary nature through diet, lifestyle, acupuncture, and herbal medicine.

Yin is the non-blood fluid portion of the body (spinal fluid, lymphatic fluid, joint fluid, mucous membranes, etc.) Think of it as that which nourishes connective tissue and structures: fascia, muscle, bone, ligament, tendon, nerves, veins, arteries. Yang is energy, motion, physiology. Yin holds, Yang moves.

I first started seeing an acupuncturist when I was healing from shoulder surgery. At that time, I was training for a Half Ironman triathlon and had a daily yoga practice. I gave myself very little time to recover post surgery before getting right back to training. I thought that was healthy. I was wrong….

I was very active, but was always exhausted. My acupuncturist told me that I was woefully Yin and Blood deficient and recommended formulas to nourish the Yin and Blood. I kept telling her that I needed more Yang, not more Yin. I needed more ENERGY. Eventually, I understood that it is the Yin that supports the Yang. If I wanted more energy then I would have to nourish the Yin….

Most people from around age 35-60ish are Yin deficient in some capacity. Excessively active lifestyles (and those with poor diet, high stress, or little sleep) deplete the Yin more quickly. People with Yin deficiency run a little warm at night even though they might run cold during the day. They maybe don’t sleep well, particularly from 1-3am. They tend toward constipation. The skin is starting to thin, and the skin tone is a little blotchy. The cheeks are more flushed than they used to be, particularly in late afternoon. They tend to be thirsty and might have a chronic scratchy throat. Their energy is more of the distracted / nervous type. The list goes on….

The exhaustion that I felt was Yin deficiency that led to Yang deficiency. By nourishing the Yin I was able to recover Yang. Yang deficiency occurs where the creative and transforming energy that maintains life in your body and keeps all your mental and bodily functions going, lacks full power. If the Yin goes under-nourished for years then it will eventually lead to true Yang deficiency.

True Yang deficiency is seen primarily in children and adults fighting serious illness and in the elderly. Yang deficiency is exemplified by subjective feeling of cold most of the time, poor circulation and water metabolism, poor digestion (watery stools or constipation), and tiredness. Most of us have experienced what this feels like when suffering from the flu….

Yang deficiency can also occur from prolonged exposure to cold, from consuming too many cold/raw foods and cold drinks, overexertion, overwork, and prolonged fear.

Here are some ways to nourish the Yang:

Get sufficient rest

Stay warm – wear appropriate clothes for the weather

Avoid prolonged exposure to wind

Consume little that is cold, icy, or raw (ice cream is at the top of the list!)

Eat smaller meals consisting of warming, cooked foods. Depending on the state of your digestive system, five small meals might make you feel better than three large meals.

Add *fresh* ginger or turmeric root to recipes

Avoid physical exhaustion

Enjoy plenty of warm sunlight

If these changes to diet and lifestyle are not enough, come in for acupuncture treatment(s) and an herbal consultation. There are some great herbal formulas to help “jump-start” the Yang without damaging the Yin….