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Friday, April 11, 2014

Understanding the Basic Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine

I wanted to share this information with you because it is a very large part of my herbal practice.   I have found that the correlation of the organs to the elements allows us to be able to pinpoint and more clearly understand the origin of disease and imbalances that Western medicine can't even fathom. 

The ancient principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is deeply ingrained in their beliefs and concepts that the human body is a miniature version of the larger, surrounding universe; their theory of yin and yang: harmony between two opposing yet complementary forces, called which supports health, and disease results from an imbalance between these forces; the yin and yang nature of each of our 12 body organs, the nature of the symptoms of illness as well as the nature of the herbal remedies we select; the Five elements—fire, earth, wood, metal, and water—symbolically represent all phenomena, including the stages of human life, and explain the functioning of the body and how it changes during disease; and the purpose and presence of Chi in our body and in every organ.
The theory of yin and yang is a kind of world outlook. It holds that all things have two opposite aspects, yin and yang, which are both opposite and at the same time interdependent. This is a universal law of the material world. These two aspects are in opposition to each other but because one end of the spectrum cannot exist without the other they are interdependent.
The ancient Chinese used water and fire to symbolize yin and yang; anything moving, hot, bright and hyperactive is yang, and anything quiescent, cold, dim and hypoactive is yin.

The yin and yang properties of things are not absolute but relative. As an object or person changes so the yin and yang components change at a gradual rate. Each of the yin and yang properties of the object is a condition for the existence of the other; neither can exist in isolation.
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These two opposites are not stationary but in constant motion. If we imagine the circadian rhythm, night is yin and day is yang; as night (yin) fades it becomes day (yang), and as yang fades it becomes yin. Yin and yang are therefore changing into each other as well as balancing each other.


Each organ has an element of yin and yang within it. The histological structures and nutrients are yin, and the functional activities are yang. Some organs are predominantly yang in their functions, such as the liver, while others are predominantly yin, such as the kidney. Even though one organ may be predominantly yin (or yang) in nature, the balance of yin and yang is maintained in the whole healthy body because the sum total of the yin and yang will be in a fluctuating balance.

If a condition of prolonged excess or deficiency of either yin or yang occurs then disease results. In an excess of yin the yang chi would be damaged, and a disease of a cold nature would develop. Excess of yang will consume yin and a disease of a hot nature would develop. In a deficiency of yin, diseases of a hot nature develop, while a deficiency of yang causes diseases of a cold nature.



Starting from blue going clockwise: Water,
Wood, Fire Earth and Metal.
The yin organs are: the kidneys, liver, heart, spleen, lungs and pericardium. 

The yang organs are: the small intestine, large intestine (colon), stomach, gall-bladder, urinary bladder and triple warmer.


The yin organs are of paramount importance in the body, as they coordinate with the yang organs and connect with the five tissues (channels, jin, muscles, skin-hair, bones), and the nine openings (eyes, nose, ears, mouth, tongue, anus and external genitalia), to form the system of the Five Elements. The pericardium and triple warmer are not considered to be important yin/yang organs though they play an important part in maintaining body temperature.

To be continued . . . .