YIN AND YANG HEALING
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© March 2014, The Center For Development
In Western civilization, the first chapter of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible states that God divided the void or the oneness into the heavens and the earth, dark and light, the land and the seas, male and female. This is the concept of a basic “twoness” of complementary opposites that form our physical world.
In the Orient, the ancient Taoists similarly believed that all physical phenomena arise by a splitting of the primordial oneness into two, which they called the yin and the yang. So the concept of a primordial oneness that is divided into two is a universal principle in both Western and Eastern philosophy.
A BASIC DEFINITION OF YIN AND YANG FORCES OF NATURE
While the concepts are quite complex, and can be expanded upon almost endlessly, I will give a basic definition of yin and yang that should suffice for this article and for healing purposes. This article and this website focus on yin and yang as they apply to healing the human body and mind. One could, for example, discuss yin and yang in terms of physics or even mathematics, but that would be another subject altogether.
What are yin and yang? A general introduction to the concept is to understand them as follows:
of matter. Yang tends to be
more contracted, more dense, condensing,
increasing in mass, warm with more internal heat, dryer and often more physical.
Yin tends to be more expanded, evaporating, less dense, more chaotic, less massive, cold, damp and in some cases more ethereal.
For example, water is more yin, while land is more yang. The warm tropics are more yang, while the areas near the north and south poles are far more yin because they are cold.
Š Basic physics. This is the essence of yang and yin. More yang means the particles of matter are closer to one another (more contracted or compacted) and there is more friction between them, generating more heat, more light and more mass. In contrast, more yin means that particles of matter are further apart (more expanded). This causes less friction between them, which causes less heat or more coldness, less light and less mass. Please memorize this, as it will help all understanding of yang and yin.
of energies. Yang
tends to be a lower frequency or slower moving waves, while yin tends to be a
higher frequency of energy or faster moving waves of energy. This is not always the case, but it is
For example, the color red is a lower frequency and more yang, while the color blue is a higher frequency and somewhat more yin. Infrared is an even lower frequency and tends to be more yang than red, although infrared contains some frequencies that are yin as well, so this criteria is variable.
of movement. Yang tends to be inward-moving or centripetal. It is also generally downward-moving toward the center of the
In contrast, yin tends to be more outward-moving, split apart or centrifugal. It also tends to be upward moving away from the earth. Once again, this is not always true, but is often the case.
For example, foods that grow up in the air on trees, such as fruits, are further away from the earth and this is one reason they tend to be more yin. Root vegetables are much more yang, in part because they grow under the earth’s surface.
PRINCIPLES REGARDING THE IDEA OF YIN AND YANG
1. Nothing is purely yin or pure yang. That cannot exist in a balanced universe. In fact, if it does begin to occur, the one changes to the other, at times. This is the basis for atom bombs, for example, as matter (more yang) is changed into pure energy (more yin) in a violent way.
2. The proportions of yin and yang are always changing. In other words, it is a dynamic concept that is always shifting as conditions change.
3. Yin and yang always coexist and are complementary opposites. They are not “antagonists”, but rather work together to build our physical universe. This means dark and light have their place, as do male and female, hot and cold, contraction and expansion.
4. Most people’s bodies are extremely yin today. This is the cause of most illness, from a yin and yang balance perspective. It also means that the best results will often occur with the use of more yang therapies, diets and healing methods.
Health, today, normally means to become far more yang. Disease, today, tends to mean that one has become too yin. This was not always the case. However, with the amount of toxic chemicals, radiation, toxic metals, yin infections such as yeast infections, and other factors in play today, this is the case in almost everyone.
Rare exceptions many include people whose attitudes are too yang, or who have toxins that could make the body very yang, but these are extremely rare and hardly ever seen. Toxins and attitudes are mostly what I would call toxic yang that is quite temporary. However, exceptions can occur.
APPLYING THESE PRINCIPLES TO HEALING
Applying the principles of yin and yang properly is a key idea in nutritional balancing science, and it is what separates it from most other nutritional healing systems. This is not a new idea, as it was practiced as part of Taoism, ancient Chinese medicine, acupuncture, acupressure and other healing arts. However, nutritional balancing carries it forward into Western concepts of medicine, joining East and West in this regards.
It has application in the recommended diet, the supplement program, the recommended lifestyle, the detoxification protocol, metabolic typing, avoidance of certain toxins, the recommended drinking water, the recommended meditation exercise, and even the suggested beliefs and attitudes that we find favor health over disease.
We find that balancing yin and yang 1) reduces stress enormously, 2) leads to spiritual development in a balanced way, 3) removes more toxic metals and toxic chemicals, 4) favors most enzyme reactions in the body and 5) improves vitality in a way that nothing else can do. It is as though the body is like a seesaw and extremes of yin or yang energy unbalance it, like swinging wildly to one side or the other side. This places tremendous stress on the body and leads to illness. Keeping oneself balanced, on the other hand, reduces stress and greatly favors healing. Let us examine how balancing yin and yang is used in nutritional balancing science.
Metabolic typing is about yin and yang. The ideas of yin and yang is the most comprehensive system available regarding metabolic types. It is the basis for typing the bodies as fast or slow oxidizers.
Fast oxidation is much more yang, while slow oxidation is more yin. In general, the more extreme the oxidation rate, the more extreme the yin-yang imbalance. Several acupuncturists have confirmed for me the correlation between yin and yang and the oxidation rate, as determined via hair mineral analysis using Dr. Eck’s ratios as standards. Other doctors assess the oxidation rate in other ways, and their methods are not as accurate, in my experience. Beware of using blood or urine tests, questionnaires or other means to assess the oxidation rate for this reason.
Mineral ratios and yin and yang. A higher sodium/potassium ratio is more yang, while a lower ratio is much more yin. Other ratios are less clear, although most likely a lower calcium/magnesium ratio is somewhat more yang, while a high calcium/magnesium is often, though not always much more yin.
Supplements. All synthetic and even natural vitamins, minerals and herbs tend to be yin compared to whole, natural foods. Therefore, we are careful not to use too many supplements or any kind.
Detoxification procedures. Those that are hot and dry such as sauna baths are more yang. those that are cold and damp such as juice therapy or clay baths are more yin.
Toxins. Most toxins are extremely yin because they disrupt life. This includes toxic metals, and toxic organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Their effects on the body can be either yin or yang, but generally their effect is yin. Fungi and parasites such as worms and amoeba in the body are even more yin.
Most medical drugs and almost all herbs, along with the isolated vitamins and isolated minerals are yin, especially homeopathic remedies. For this reason, all should be used sparingly.
Electromagnetic fields generally have a very yin effect, as does ionizing radiation from nuclear power plants and A-bomb fallout. Yin is generally harmful on planet earth today and best avoided.
WHY ARE SO MANY BODIES YIN?
Traditional Chinese medical practitioners would say the reason for so many yin bodies is deficient chi or vital energy. Many factors can deplete the chi including one's diet, lifestyle, stress and other factors.
In particular, since 1940 or so, several factors have combined to render most bodies extremely yin.
Š Ionizing radiation. The atomic bomb, through testing and accidents, has spread radioactive fallout all over the planet. Low-level emissions occur from nuclear power plants, smoke detectors, computer monitors, television sets and fluorescent lamps. Widespread medical and dental use of x-rays, radioactive dyes and radiation therapy add to radiation exposure. Uranium mining is another source of low-level contamination. Fortunately, humanity has learned a lot about radioactive fallout and the safety is improving. However, the problem of rogue nations developing weapons and using them remains a serious problem.
Š Electromagnetic pollution. This is also very yin and growing at an astronomical rate with the advent of cell phone towers everywhere, computers in every home, especially laptop computers and hand-held devices like portable telephones. These all give off fields that are very yin and chaotic. Riding in airplanes with large spinning turbines in them near your head, and even riding in automobiles with large alternators spinning nearby also give off electromagnetic waves of varying degrees of chaos. Even house wiring and common radio and TV signals are quite yin, though not nearly as bad as cell phone radiation.
Š Toxic metals and chemicals everywhere. Industrial development and growth of the chemical industry has spread thousands of yin toxic chemicals throughout the environment. These include toxic metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum and beryllium. It also includes thousands of toxic chemicals such as solvents, pesticides, plastics and many other classes of compounds.
in the food supply.
These have been massive in the 20th and 21st
century, and almost all are more yin.
They include: soils depleted of minerals due to soil mining,
essentially, use of hybrid crops, use of pesticides, use of superphosphate
fertilizers. For example, wild fruit, like crab apples, are small, hard and not
too sweet. Cultivated fruit is
often larger and sweeter (more yin).
Also, food is grown far away and transported thousands of miles in many cases to get to you. Also, some is irradiated, another very yin procedure.
Š Food refining. Most food processing and refining have made food far more yin. This includes refining of wheat, sugar, rice and other grains. It also includes adding thousands of toxic chemicals to prepared food, most of which are yin or have a yin effect.
Š Dietary changes. The diets have also become more yin, with the consumption of much more white sugar, white flour instead of whole grains, and less red meat and fat consumption. Items like soda pop, beer and wine are also far more yin than water, tea or coffee. Sugar-eating is probably the most important of all of these dietary shifts.
Š Medical drug use. This is a more yang approach to health care than some types, but now has turned yin because it is so overused. Especially the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in America in 1967 and similar socialized programs in other nations, have resulted in tremendous use of yin chemicals as medicines. Almost all prescription drugs are yin. This includes most popular drugs such as antibiotics, anti depressants and many others. Surgery and radiation therapy are also extremely yin.
Š Recreational drug and alcohol use. This includes marijuana, heroine, alcohol, tobacco, ecstasy and other psychedelics, all of which are very yin.
Š Planetary pollution. This has caused a mixture of more yin and more yang conditions. As explained earlier, toxic metals are yang, of themselves, but they cause chaos in the bodies, making them much more yin. Oxygen in the air is reduced in the cities, which is more yang. However, this also causes disease that is yin. Polluted air, water and food, overall, has a very yin effect on mankind today.
cycles play a role.
"The age of Aquarius" is not just the name of a song. It is a planetary position in the
25,000-year cycle of our solar system through the Milky Way as the galaxy
revolves around our central sun located in the Pleiades. It will last about 2000 years. Its qualities are a time of change, reflection,
questioning and the chaos that goes with it. It began around 1940 and will last until about 3100.
It is a time when a more yang approach to life and yangizing influences are needed to offset new ideas and concepts which tend to be yin. It is also an age of information which is yin and it is a radioactive age – with nuclear weapons and so on, which is also very yin and these must be balanced with a more yang diet and lifestyle and attitudes that are more yang such as taking responsibility for oneself. The former age, the Piscean age, by contrast was a more yang time with lead in the environment, for instance, and required more fruit and juices and salads in the diet than is required today.
With these rather severe changes have come new diseases, while some older ones such as tuberculosis and typhoid fever are not as prevalent. This is how yin and yang, as well as nutrition, interact with disease states, another complex topic for another article.
CORRECTING THE YIN-YANG BALANCE – FOOD AND DIETARY CONCEPTS
1. The balance of yin and yang in the body is often determined by the food one eats more than any other single factor. Thus, a basic understanding of how food affects one’s yin and yang balance is essential.
2. Many qualities of a food affect its yin or yang qualities. These include, but are not limited to its freshness, nutrient content, animal or vegetable derivation, how it is prepared, how and where it grows, toxins it contains, level of etheric energy, and even such things as its color, texture and other qualitites.
3. The yin-yang balance in foods has little to do with a “balanced” diet in modern dietetics. The Western idea of a balanced diet is based on balancing various food groups such as fruits, vegetables and grains. This is a different idea.
4. Toxins, nutrients, fiber and other chemical factors found in all foods can be yin or yang, depending on their chemical nature.
5. Freshness is a very important quality to determine yin or yang. Fresh food is far more yang in almost all cases. Denatured, processed, refined, old, stale, wilted, or spoiled food is much more yin. This has to do with the etheric energy of foods, discussed below.
Yang quality and etheric energy. Etheric energy is sometimes also called vitality or life energy. Some people have instruments to measure it. A food that is higher in etheric energy, or a cooking method that preserves or enhances etheric energy, will be more yang. Fresher foods have much more etheric energy and are therefore much more yang. Old, stale or canned foods have much less etheric energy and are more yin.
Frying food actually seems to preserve the etheric energy a little more. This is why Oriental cooking recommends stir-frying, and it is one reason that organic blue and yellow corn chips may be excellent foods, even though they are made with cooked vegetable oils.
6. Macrobiotics is a modern version of this approach to dietetics. This science was introduced to America by Mr. Michio Kushi in the 1960s from Japan. While some of it is excellent, some parts of it must be changed, in my opinion, based upon hair mineral analysis research. For more on this subject, read Macrobiotics, And Modifications For Nutritional Balancing Science.
Macrobiotics is based on ancient Japanese and Chinese Taoist philosophy. It divides foods into those that are more yin in nature, versus those of a yang nature. The chart below depicts the way foods tend to be classified on a scale from yang to yin:
Salt Eggs Red Meat Poultry Fish Grains Vegetables Fruit Sugar Drugs/Alcohol
YANG NEUTRAL YIN
Yang foods. The most yang foods are sea salt, meat, eggs, poultry, fish and cooked vegetables. Plants that grow beneath the ground are more yang, while those that grow up in the air such as most fruit, are more yin. Cooked grains, cooked beans and cooked vegetables are in the middle.
Yin foods. Raw vegetables, and even more so fruits, juices, sugars, alcohol and drugs are more yin (watery and expansive). Also, anything made with water is much more yin such as soups, smoothies, and watery foods such as eggplant and all fruits. Dried fruits are less watery, but are still extremely yin due to their sugar content. Most raw plants and herbs are also very yin. Also, chopping a food into tiny parts, grinding it up, blending it, pureeing it, or juicing it also causes the substance to become much more yin in nature. In contrast, whole foods that are not chopped up are more yang. Let us discuss specific types of foods:
Meats. The most yang are cooked eggs and red meats such as lamb, beef, rabbit and especially wild game. The next most yang are poultry such as chicken, ostrich, duck and turkey. Dark meat is more yang than white meat due to its iron content and other differences. Fish tend to be more yin, especially today as they contain more mercury and other toxins due to contamination of the oceans.
Cooking the meat and adding some salt makes it even more yang. Eating food raw or pureed makes it more yin.
Grains. Grains that are most yang include millet, rice, amaranth and buckwheat. Corn is somewhat less yang. However, blue corn is a superior food today because it is less hybridized and contains a very helpful form of selenium. Quinoa, kamut and other grains are slightly more yin but fine to eat. Oats, rye, barley and wheat are less yang due to extensive hybridization. These are not as healthful today mainly for this reason. Please avoid all wheat, as it has become an irritating food due to hybridization.
White rice and white flour are much more yin than natural brown rice and natural whole wheat. This is one reason we recommend brown rice, in addition to its superior nutrient content.
Methods of preparation:
Cooking grains or any food, and adding some salt, makes them more yang.
Pressure cooking makes a food a little more yang, but not too much. The same is true of cooking at high temperature or for a long time. Do not overcook food, however, as it damages the nutrients in the food.
Fermenting grains or any food, tends to make them more yin because ferments (yeasts and fungi) are very yin organisms. Also, aldehydes produced by most fermenting organisms is a more yin toxin.
Sprouting grains makes them more yin. Some sprouts are fine as a vegetable, but sprouts contain a toxin and should be eaten in limited quantities only.
Soaking any food makes that food a little bit more yin, though not that much.
Stir-frying or deep frying makes a food more yang. This is one reason why Oriental cooking uses stir-frying. The problem with deep frying is 1) overheated oils may be toxic.
Vegetables. Those that grow below ground are more yang, such as rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, carrot, onion, garlic, and ginger. Yams and sweet potatoes grow below ground, but are much less yang because they contain more sugar and starch.
Those with leaves are less yang but also excellent. These include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, celery and a few others.
Nightshade vegetables are much more yin because they are really fruits. The botanical definition of a fruit is something with seeds (an expanded ovary of the plant). The nightshade vegetables include potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and all peppers. They contain a toxin called solanin. These include white and red potatoes, all types of tomatoes, eggplant and both sweet red and yellow peppers, green peppers, ground pepper, and all hot chili peppers. Of these, the chile peppers are the best if one wishes to have a little salsa now and then.
Other vegetables that are really fruits and therefore more yin are cucumbers, okra, and the entire squash family. These include zucchini, summer squash, butternut, spaghetti, acorn squash and others. Some of the winter squashes are not too yin (butternut, spaghetti, and acorn types), but the summer squashes such as zucchini are quite yin and best avoided.
Fungi, such as mushrooms are more yin because this is a quality of all yeasts and fungi.
Raw vegetables are far more yin than cooked vegetables. Fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut are much more yin.
Eggs and dairy products such as milk, cream, cheese and yogurt. Since these are animal-derived, they tend to be more yang foods. Eggs are among the most yang foods available as they nourish a young life that starts out very yang.
Dairy products are much less yang than eggs or even meats, but still more yang than fruits and raw vegetables, in most cases. Fresh, unpasteurized and unhomogenized dairy is best, as it is more yang. Pasteurizing adds heat, but damages the milk so it becomes toxic and thus more yin.
Cheese and yogurt are quite a bit more yang than milk, as they have much less sugar in them. Butter, and especially ghee (clarified butter) are also much more yang than milk. Ghee is used in India, in part, for this reason. Ghee is butter with the milk solids removed by gently heating it for a few minutes.
Fruits: All fruit tends to be very yin. Fruit grows above ground, and anatomically all fruits are expanded parts of plants. The least yin are small, tart fruits such as some berries. The sweeter the fruit, the more yin, since it contains more sugar. Some, such as strawberries are very yin, even if they are not sweet. This is due in part to the fact that the seeds are scattered throughout and on the outside of the plant.
Juicy fruits such as apples, peaches, pears, plums, apricots, loquats, and others are in the middle among the fruits.
The most yin fruits, and therefore those to be avoided, generally, are:
1) Very sweet fruits, (figs, dates, raisins and bananas).
2) Tropical fruits, such as coconut, palm and all citrus fruits. These include orange, lemon, lime, tangerine, pineapple and grapefruit). Of these, grapefruit is probably a little better as it is less sweet, but all are very yin and should be eaten extremely sparingly, if at all while on a nutritional balancing program. Those who are ill are best avoiding all fruit.
Water for drinking. Quality spring or mineral water is the most yang. The quality will depend upon the minerals that are in the water. Tap water is often a little more yin due to the toxic chemicals found in it and the chemicals added to it such as chlorine and fluorides. Soft water is more yin than hard water, which contains more minerals.
Distilled and reverse osmosis water are more yin, as they contain virtually no minerals. Reverse osmosis is extremely yin and to be avoided. Distilled water may be used for only a few months to remove some toxins. Then one must change to a spring or mineral water or the body will become demineralized by drinking distilled water.
Alkaline water is more yin than a slightly acidic pH water. Alkaline water sold in stores or made in machines at home is much more yin, and harmful for this reason. The yin quality may have to do with how it is made, or for other reasons that I don’t understand.
The amount of water one drinks. Drinking the correct amount of water, which I feel is about 3 quarts, 3 liters or 96 ounces, tends to make the body much more yang. One might think that drinking less water would make the body more yang, but it does not. It makes it more yin, perhaps by upsetting digestion and elimination, affecting the kidneys, or for other reasons. Drinking too little also seems to raise blood sugar, a yin condition.
Drinking too much water – more than about 3 and a half quarts or liters, also makes the body more yin.
Other beverages: Juices are all very yin. They are raw, cold, and broken apart. However, we suggest 10-12 ounces of carrot juice with a few greens due to its superior nutritional qualities. 1-2 ounces of wheat grass juice as an alternative (not both on the same day) is also excellent because of its nutritional qualities.
Teas are cooked vegetables, basically, and are more yang than juices, for example. Non-caffeinated mild teas are okay, but do not add sugar or other sweeteners, as that would make them more yin. Coffee is a more yang beverage, and one cup daily of regular coffee (not cappuccino, or other strong coffee) is generally okay. Adding sweeteners, chocolate, etc. makes the coffee much more yin, however, and makes it much less healthful.
Alcohol is extremely yin and to be totally avoided in all forms. If you must have a little alcohol, beer is probably the best alcoholic drink, in our experience. Wine is not only yin, but generally contains many more pesticide residues with arsenic and lead. Distilled alcoholic beverages such as gin, whiskey, vodka, tequila and others are even more yin as most of the minerals have been removed during distillation.
Food additives. Almost all food additives such as preservatives, sweeteners, dough conditioners, natural or artificial flavors and colors, and thousands of others, are almost all very yin. In particular, synthetic chemicals are all yin.
Food Processing. Cutting up vegetables, grinding grains, refining food, juicing it or eating food raw is more yin. Eating foods whole is much more yang.
YIN AND YANG SUPPLEMENTS
Animal-derived products such as glandulars, and fatty substances such as vitamins A and D, are among the most yang supplements.
Minerals. Almost all mineral supplements are more yang than other supplements.
Food-based and all-natural products. These tend to be more yang than other supplements, but it depends how they are made.
Isolated vitamins and other isolated chemical supplements. These tend to be more yin than whole foods. This includes all powders, liquids tablets and capsules. Water-soluble vitamins are much more yin than fat-soluble ones. So, for example, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are more yang than vitamins B and C.
Synthetic supplements such as ascorbic acid, MSM, and synthesized B-complex vitamins tend to be somewhat more yin.
Freeze-dried extracts. These tend to be more yang, and excellent for this reason. These are used in glandular products and some herbs.
Herbal extracts, teas, powders and others. Almost all herbal extracts are yin and should be used only in small amounts for short periods of time for this reason. Those made with alcohol are more yin due to the alcohol. Glycerin is less yin. Kelp has a lot of salt in it, so it is a lot more yang than most other herbal supplements. You may read more about Herbs on this website.
Products derived from bacteria, yeasts, algae and fungi. These are very yin due to their origin. This is generally not helpful. They may include yeast-based vitamins, fungally-derived “vegetable enzymes”, and algae such as spirulina, chlorella, blue-green algae and others. The latter appear to be toxic as well. Chlorella is a chelator, and not helpful for this reason. You may read more about Chelation on this website.
Cooking And Food Preparation. This is a very important area, as it changes the quality of foods dramatically. Cooking makes food “hotter” or more yang. The higher the cooking temperature and the longer the cooking time, the greater the effect. Roasting is most yang as it is a high-temperature method, as are stir-frying and other frying in hot oil or butter. Steaming is milder, as are baking and boiling. While this may seem academic, it does affect food chemistry and the yin-yang balance.
Salt. Salt tends to contract foods and dry them out, which is more yang.
Herbs and spices. Adding these while cooking or afterwards usually makes the food more yin, but it might depend on the spice.
Combining foods, either in cooking or during meals, makes the food more yin in its effect. Adding chemicals always makes food more yin.
Soaking grains, beans, nuts or seeds tends to make them more yin.
Sprouting beans, seeds or grains makes them more yin.
Wine, vinegar, fruit, sugar, honey and sweet herbs. These add a lot of yin energy to one’s cooking. Fermenting foods tends to make them more yin, because the ferments are fungi or yeasts, in general, which are very yin. Therefore, we do not recommend cooking with sweet spices, wine or vinegar, in general. Some quality fermented foods are okay such as cheeses, yogurt and a little of other fermented foods once in a while. Some people eat far too much fermented foods and it makes the body very yin.
Canned and frozen foods. These are slightly more yin, though not much if they are eaten soon after canning. In some cases, frozen food is better quality than fresh if fresh must be transported thousands of miles, for example. Freezing food at or near the farm is one way to preserve its etheric energy content. Drying food tends to make it more yang, as it removes water. Freeze-drying is therefore an excellent way to preserve some food qualities.
Food Quality. Food quality alters the yin-yang balance drastically. Older, spoiled and rotted food are much more yin. Below is a general chart showing the effect of food quality.
Generally the best quality today Most food chemicals and sugars
YANG NEUTRAL YIN
This is vital today, when most prepared and processed food has been stripped of its natural nutrients and other components, and hundreds of chemicals have been added. As shown on the chart, most of these chemicals are very yin. Roughly ninety percent are yin in their effect. A few, however, such as salt are yang. Another that is yang is MSG or monosodium glutamate, sometimes sold as Accent. It is, of course, related to salt.
EATING NEAR ONE’S YIN-YANG BALANCE POINT
One should eat foods that are somewhat yang, but often people prefer to eat near their own yin-yang balance point. This means that if the body is very yin, as most are, then many people prefer eating more fruit, sugars and perhaps refined grains and raw vegetables. This is not helpful, however, in most cases. In some cases, it is necessary for a while, however. An example of this is in cancer patients. They cannot digest and absorb meat and eggs very well, and must avoid most of these foods for a while until their bodies become more yang.
Understanding why one craves food is important to help some people overcome their habits. Vegetarian, raw foods, fruit and other yin foods often “feel good”. This is because they resonate or vibrate at a yin frequency. In other words, such people are more like sugar, inside, or more yin, so sweet foods and raw food and less meat seem more compatible with them energetically. We sometimes call this phenomenon obligatory vegetarianism or obligatory raw food, because these foods make a person feel better temporarily. However, we find that sooner or later these habits are quite harmful and will deplete the body and make it much too yin.
Overeating makes one more yin. However, eating a lot of a fairly balanced food such as blue corn chips, it is not as harmful as overeating on an unbalanced food such as sugar or even red meat.
We recommend eating loads of cooked vegetables. Since they are very balanced, this does not upset in the yin-yang balance. Eating a lot of fruit, however, is extremely damaging because fruit is an unbalanced food to begin with as it is so yin.
This concept is very important for Western people who tend to eat a lot of the extreme foods – red meats, salt and sugars. These are okay in small amounts once in a while. When eaten every day, however, they can stress the body. Western science is coming to this conclusion as well. That is, too much red meat or any meat, and too much sugar are harmful for health.
Fasting has a very yang effect, as one eat little or no food. This is why a short fast of a day or two is fine, once in a while. Longer fasts are not recommended, because the bodies today are so depleted and toxic that it does not work well, as it did in the past. Books about fasting written 50 or 100 years ago simply do not apply today. I have some experience with this as I was the medical director at a Natural Hygiene fasting spa for several years, and was sorely disappointed in the results of this procedure.
The effect of food quantity is illustrated by the chart below:
The right amount and type of food Excessive Food
EXAMPLES OF DIETS AND HOW TO IMPROVE THEM
Most people do not realize how yin their diets are today. Here are some examples and how to improve them:
Breakfasts. Many people have white bread toast with jam. Instead, have whole grain toast or blue corn chips with butter or toasted almond butter.
Many people have a smoothie for breakfast consisting of water or fruit, or fruit juice, with uncooked green superfood powder, herbs, isolated vitamins or minerals and perhaps raw or pasteurized milk. This is extremely yin! And very hard on the digestion. Instead, have whole eggs lightly cooked, or a hot cereal. Most people will feel better on this than on smoothies, even if the smoothie contains only “healthy” ingredients.
Other yin breakfasts are sweet rolls, pancakes with honey, or even eggs with sugar on them or coffee or tea with sugar. Instead, have eggs alone or with a little whole grain toast and butter, and skip most pancakes and baked goods, all of which are very yin. Do not put sugar in coffee or tea. A little cream in coffee is okay, especially if it is fresh cream, not chemical “creamers”.
Lunches and suppers often include a large salad, often topped with a sweet dressing. Skip the salad or make it very small, and substitute many more cooked vegetables.
Many people have a potato or white bread, both of which are very yin. Instead, have some whole grain rice, sweet potato, yam and no bread since wheat is not a healthful product today, even organic whole wheat. Also, skip the red or green peppers, eggplant and preferably skip all tomato products, which are nightshade vegetables and very yin.
Common condiments such as ketchup, mustard with sugar in it, and hot sauce are also very yin. Even worse are diets with cola drinks, prepared foods in restaurants or at home that contain food additives such as colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and even stevia or xylitol. All of this is quite yin. Instead, have a small quantity of natural herbs as spices, preferably fresh, such as oregano, garlic, ginger, rosemary, dill, thyme and others. (Garlic and ginger are among the most yang, as are the East Indian spices such as turmeric and cumin.)
Common snacks to avoid include nuts and seeds, (especially if raw or raw nut butters), crackers with sugar in them, fresh or dried fruit, fruit juices, most cold cereal with milk, cookies or candy. Instead, have some turkey or beef jerky, since meats are more yang. Other snacks can be leftover chicken and cooked vegetables, a little egg, yogurt or cheese, or a handful of blue corn chips or some rice crackers with a little almond or other nut butter or just butter.
In addition, many people are taking handfuls of vitamins, herbs, chlorella, superfood powders or pills, mushrooms that are extremely yin, isolated protein powders, meal replacement bars or powders, and other extremely yin products. High-dose vitamins such as high-dose vitamin C are the worst of the supplements due to its high quantity of a yin substance. I realize these have benefits, but in terms of yin and yang, they are extremely yin.
LIFESTYLE, AND YIN AND YANG
Rest. Enough rest makes the body much more yang. This is about 8 to 10 hours nightly and perhaps a short nap during the day. Not enough rest, or too much laying in bed all day, for example, tend to make the body more yin. Too much rest is not a problem today. Not getting enough rest is almost a universal problem.
Bedtime is important. Going to bed earlier – by 9 PM or earlier – makes a person quite a bit more yang. going to bed later – after 9 or 10 PM – makes a person more yin. This is quite an important factor in some cases. Napping is very good to make one more yang as well. The nap need not be a long one. Fifteen minutes or more is fine.
Muscle tension is also very yangizing, at least for a time. Muscle tension is a compressive force, so it tends to make one more yang. To tense up the body is a common yang or confrontive response to stress.
Of course, if the muscle tension continues too long, or squeezes off the blood or nerve supply to an area of the body such as the neck or back, then it eventually becomes a yin force as it destroys the body.
Exercise. Exercise, which tenses the muscles, as explained above, makes the body more yang. Deep breathing also makes the body more yang, adding oxygen to the body. However, too much exercise, especially vigorous exercise, wears out the joints, depletes nutrients too much, weakens the adrenals, and makes one more yin, over time.
The correct amount of activity and exercise is helpful to make the body a little more yang. Not much is needed, however, for most people, such as a half-hour walk or gentle workouts with a treadmill or weights several times a week. No exercise makes the body a little more yin. Exercise is not as important a factor in making a body yin or yang compared to diet and rest.
Sexual activity. All sexual activity with orgasms and ejaculation tends to make a person much more yin. Sex play without orgasms and ejaculation is not a problem, however. No sexual activity tends to preserve a certain yang energy in the body.
Sex with orgasm and ejaculation more than once weekly is excessive for most people. It definitely makes the body more yin, as it depletes zinc, selenium and other vital minerals. Women reabsorb some of their sexual fluids, and they obtain some minerals from the men’s sexual fluids, so it may affect them less, but not necessarily because woman’s orgasm is quite different from a man’s and it opens her up, which is a yin condition. Orgasm for a man, however, is quite depleting of yang energy, according to Chinese acupuncture philosophy.
Breathing. Deep breathing makes one more yang by removing toxins, improving circulation and oxygenation of the body, enhancing the oxidation rate, and perhaps by other means such as balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Toxin exposure. Living a very clean life with little toxin exposure definitely makes one more yang today. Exposing oneself to poor quality air, toxic and chemicalized foods, toxins in water, or other toxins through contact, for instance, makes one much more yin.
Stress. Sress in one’s life can have a yang effect or a yin effect. It depends on the type of stress and on the individual. This is more complex. Stress can be a compressive or yang force, but it can also destroy or just scare the person, and this would be an extremely yin effect.
Three highs or four highs pattern. This is seen on hair tests in which a person is in a four highs pattern and appears like a fast oxidizer in many ways. However, when the person relaxes, he or she changes to slow oxidation and the attitudes and attributes change to a more yin tendency. In Chinese acupuncture, three or four highs pattern is called yang rising, or perhaps toxic yang. This is the same as saying a stress yang, rather than a healthful yang quality.
A calcium shell pattern on a hair analysis is a more yin response to stress, in contrast. Here the person withdraws and hides, essentially.
Excessive stress. Too much stress, however, depletes vital nutrients, allows toxic metals to accumulate, damages body tissues and structures, and eventually destroys the body, making it far more yin. This is what happens when one is in slow oxidation as one ages.
Also, in many, but not all slow oxidizers, when more stress is applied, they tend to become slower oxidizers. This has to do with the type of stress and the general condition of the body.
Dissociative or yin, versus confrontive or yang, responses to stress. While some stress elicits a yang response, other types of stress in some people elicits a more yin or dissociative effect. For example, a calcium shell pattern is extremely yin and represents a dissociation of splitting off of the personality, which we say is a withdrawal from society psychologically. This is very yin or hiding or running away.
Four highs, in contrast, is a more confrontive response to stress or more yang response of fighting back. Why some respond in a yin manner and others in a more yang manner has to do with many factors including one’s nutritional state, psychological tendencies, early childhood traumas, and perhaps other factors.
BALANCING SYMPATHETIC AND PARASYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEMS
The sympathetic nervous system has a yin or catabolic and destructive effect on the body. However, it is yang in nature, meaning hot and active.
The parasympathetic nervous system has a more yang effect on the body, as it is regenerative and restorative of health. However, it is much more yin or passive in its quality. The parasympathetic nervous system is associated with rest and relaxation.
This is a good example of where a factor may appear one way (yin or yang) but its effect on the body is the opposite.
PSYCHOLOGY AND YIN-YANG BALANCE
Another powerful factor that modifies the yin-yang balance as much as food in all cases is psychology. This means that certain approaches to life, attitudes, emotions and such, are yin and others are yang.
Here is where a total approach to healing is so important, rather than just diet, or just lifestyle, or just some therapy. Without this total approach, many factors will invariably be missed by the practitioner. It may not be necessary to consider all the lifestyle, dietary and other factors in the beginning, but eventually they matter a lot.
Here we also see why in ancient Chinese holistic medicine the doctor was taught to look at many things, from the shape of the head, the hands and other body parts, to the color of the skin, the tongue, the pulse, the excretions and more. We must do some of this, too, though the hair analysis offers a remarkably simple means to evaluate a person’s overall condition, though it does not always tell us why one is the way he or she is. Along with a few other simple items we will discuss later, it will suffice in most cases.
Yang Psychology = fast oxidizer psychology. The fast oxidizer mentality is yang. People with these traits tend to be more confrontive, more engaging, more expressive emotionally, and more aggressive, arrogant, tight or uptight, angry overtly or easily angered, and in extreme cases paranoid. The voice tends to be higher, and the person more extroverted, positive in outlook, fun and happy, usually physically stronger and future-oriented rather than past-oriented. There is usually more interest in sex, especially among the men. They are “hot”, to use a teenager term, meaning they have higher hormone levels and are more interested in being social and sexual. These traits are understood chemically very well and explained in the book, Nutritional Balancing And Hair Mineral Analysis and other articles.
Other yang psychological qualities are groundedness, centeredness, reality-based rather than fanciful, hard-nosed, domineering, controlling, practical, business-like, on time, detail-oriented, mentally sharp and basically present in this reality. In excess, they are too grounded and self-centered, closed to new ideas, selfish or self-centered, and too hard-nosed.
Yin Psychology = slow oxidizer attitudes and traits. These traits tend to include being more relaxed, slower-moving, weaker, more emotional, often more fearful and depressed, apathetic, cloudy or mentally foggy, ethereal, and not nearly as well grounded or centered. They tend to be less confronting, and more repressed or suppressed emotionally. Their general demeanor is more “shattered”, which is a very yin tendency or direction of movement.
They are often eccentric in a different way, with lower energy, more confusion, and sometimes less interest in sex. They are often more serious, definitely more negative in their outlook, and more often think and live in the past or what they believe was a happier, more glorious past. They are more likely to use yin drugs such as marijuana, and are more dependent and often more child-like. Children, however, are actually more yang than most adults because they are healthier and their bodies are more compact. Hippies, for example, are much more yin in their attitudes and behavior than are most blue collar and physical laborers, who tend to be far more yang in their attitudes.
Most people, of course, are a mixture of these traits, just as their body chemistry is a mixture of various imbalances both yin and yang. However, one or the other prevails. A hair mineral analysis is often amazingly accurate to help one to know which set of traits is more likely present. Note that all adult fast oxidizers are just slow oxidizers under a tremendous amount of stress, even if the mineral ratios appear good. However, an adult with a fast oxidation pattern is much more likely to demonstrate more yang psychological qualities.
Other Major Influences On Yin And Yang. Personal habits matter, such as answering the call of nature quickly. Otherwise one becomes quite depleted and yin. Other factors are the colors one wears, aloneness versus being more social, one’s companions and partners, and more. These may be discussed in a later article. However, they are generally not as important as the factors discussed above.
SYMBOLS OF BALANCE OF THE FORCES OF NATURE
It is interesting that the symbols of most major religions are those of balancing the forces of yin and yang. This applies to the Christian cross, the Jewish star, the Taoist circle of yin and yang, and some others. The Muslim symbol is not one of balance, interestingly.
Environmental Yin And Yang. Colder and wetter climates are more yin, while tropical or hotter and drier areas are far more yang. Yin climates require more yang foods. This can be why Eskimos do well on a diet of mostly meat and fat, two yang foods.
In contrast, people who live in tropical climates often eat more fruit and less cooked food, in general. When people in a hot country eat more meat, they become too yang and often ill. This often translates into aggressiveness, for example, as seen in a hot area – the Middle East. Similarly, Eskimos would not fare well on a diet of fruit and would become ill. Even the US army discovered this during World War II and had to alter its rations for the soldiers depending upon where they were fighting and living.
People in tropical climates often eat more hot peppers, in such nations as Mexico, India, Thailand and many other nations. At first, this might seem strange since the peppers are “hot” in their taste. However, peppers are, in fact, very yin foods although they may taste spicy or hot.
Altitude and other environmental factors. A higher altitude is more yang, while a lower altitude is more yin. This has to do with air pressure, specifically of oxygen, a very yin element. So, for example, living by the ocean in sunny, warm California is quite yin. One notices the attitudinal differences here, compared say to living in cold, high altitudes of Asia or even America.
The elements. Solid, heavier matter is more yang, while lighter elements are more yin. So uranium, lead, cadmium and mercury, for example, are more yang. However, radioactivity is extremely yin, so uranium is not quite as yang as the other heavy metals for this reason.
Lighter elements such as lithium, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and even calcium and aluminum are more yin elements. They also happen to be more alkaline-forming as well.
This is confusing, however, because although as one becomes healthier one removes the heavy metals, replacing them with the lighter, more yin elements, the body becomes much more yang, overall. The reason is that the heavy metals, while more yang, are also incorrect for the body and cause total chaos, which is a very yin trait. Reducing their amount and effect in the body thus reduces chaos and this has a very yangizing effect.
Weight and yin-yang balance. An overweight body tends to be more yang in some ways because it is more massive. However, in most cases today, the overweight people are far more yin because they are more ill, chaotic, “expanded” and toxic with too much sugar, water and other yin material. Often, overweight people look waterlogged or “puffy” and expanded.
It is very different from a body that is large but muscular only. This body is much more yang, as muscle is more yang and dense than fat and water.
Body shape. The shape of the body is also related to yin and yang, as is everything. Tall and slender is yin, generally, while short and stocky is much more yang. This has to do with glandular effects, diet, genetics and other factors. Not surprisingly, I have mentioned in other articles that fast oxidizers tend to have a shorter, stockier build. Slow oxidizer often have a tall and more slender build.
YIN AND YANG HEALING
Western medicine largely ignores the concept of yin-yang balance in healing, but is still a central idea in many Eastern systems of healing, particularly acupuncture. It creeps into Western medicine as normal ranges for blood sugar, blood pressure and many other functions. One knows that too much or too little of these are indicative of disease.
About ninety-five percent of bodies today are yin in Chinese medical terminology. Many are extremely yin. Yin is associated with the qualities of being cold, still, expanded and chaotic. This corresponds exactly to slow oxidation on a properly performed and interpreted hair mineral analysis. The hair must not be washed at the laboratory and the oxidation rate is determined by calculating the calcium/potassium and the sodium/magnesium ratios. Yin or slow oxidation is defined as a calcium/potassium ratio greater than 4:1 and a sodium/magnesium ratio less than 4/17:1.
YIN AND YANG ILLNESSES
Illness may be classified anatomically as yin or yang. For example, osteoarthritis is characterized by deposition of calcium and other substances in the joints and may be said to be yang. Rheumatoid arthritis is a degeneration of the joints and is more yin. Solid tumors are more yang, while blood cancers such as leukemia are more yin. Inflammation is generally “hot” and more yang, as are all painful conditions. In contrast, the growth of silent tumors inside the body, as with most cancers, tends to be a very yin condition. Indeed, cancer cells are somewhat like yeasts and fungi in their metabolism and these are “cold” infections. Meanwhile, bacteria tend to cause “hot” or yang infections. This can get quite complex.
More important for the correction process is whether the cause is yin or yang. Many times the same symptom can have either a yin or a yang cause. In hair analysis interpretation, one finds that the same symptom may be due to fast oxidation or slow oxidation. This is saying the same thing – that the cause can be yin or yang.
Osteoporosis, for example, may be due to a calcium or copper deficiency in a fast oxidizer. Part of the sympathetic nervous system response is excretion of calcium. However, the same symptom may be due to biologically unavailable calcium in a slow oxidizer, a more yin condition.
Since most bodies today are yin, most illness has a yin cause at its basis. The symptom may appear yang - hot, hard or contracted. However, the underlying cause is usually a yin imbalance. A yin therapy such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy may eliminate a hard tumor, but the long-term effects are less curative and usually harmful.
YIN AND YANG HEALING METHODS
Yang therapies. Among healing methods, the most yang are those involving heat and dryness. Dry saunas, hyperthermia, fever therapy, sweating, heating herbs like ginger and burdock, coffee enemas, hot baths, exposure to the sun, heat lamps and fasting are examples. Other are chiropractic manipulation, biofeedback, acupuncture, acupressure, some meditation that moves energy downward, some psychotherapy when it involves confronting the person, some hands-on healing or body work, and some color therapy with reddish, orange or yellow light.
Yin therapies include raw foods, juices, cool or cold baths, colonic irrigation and Epsom salt baths. Others are homeopathy, visualization, imagery, psychedelic drugs and the use of electrical machines. Still others include most pharmaceuticals, surgery, radiation therapy and the use of most herbs and nutritional supplements. Most meditation, relaxation and self-hypnosis also has a more yin effect.
Detoxification. Yin detoxification methods flush toxins with cool and watery energy. They slow down overheated metabolism and reduce congestion. Yang detoxification methods tonify and energize the system, and contract the cells, forcing poisons out. The principles of yin and yang healing apply equally to conventional as well as holistic therapies.
A need for yang therapies today. As more people become yin, they require more yang therapies. This is one reason for more and more problems occurring with antibiotic overuse and vegetarian diets – both of which are more yin.
It is also a problem with some natural therapies. For example, a friend is a cancer counselor who has observed the results of many alternative cancer therapies. She reports poorer results with the Gerson therapy and related approaches that rely on raw foods and juices. This therapy used to offer excellent results. Most likely, this is because more bodies were more yang at the time Dr. Gerson developed the therapy in the 1920s and 1930s. Yin therapy may get rid of tumors which are yang, but cannot fully rebuild a body that is more yin.
This is the approach I suggest for most people. It involves a diet of kelp, sea salt, meats and especially cooked yang root vegetables. One avoids yin foods such as sugar, sweet juices, most fruit, most raw food, and the nightshade vegetables and other vegetables that are botanically fruits.
To this are added food supplements and herbs that are primarily yang or less yin. We do not use most herbs, most green drinks, or high doses of vitamin C or other vitamins, for example.
More yang herbs include ginger, burdock, dandelion, milk thistle, skullcap, nettles and black radish.
Mineral therapy is somewhat yang and very necessary today due to congenital nutrient deficiencies, refined food diets, poor quality food, stress and other factors that deplete nutrients.
Yang procedures. Nutritional balancing may also involve dry sauna therapy, infrared lamp therapy and red light therapy. Red light assists the first chakra and organs such as the liver, kidneys and adrenal glands. This is exactly what most people need.
Some say light therapy should focus on the upper chakras - blue, green and violet. However, I find that most patients I see live in those upper chakras most of the time. Copper toxicity, which is very common, has the effect of speeding up mental processes and enhancing emotions and analytical thinking.
Rest and sleep, and other lifestyle factors. Another vital yang therapy is rest and sleep. Most people do not get nearly enough rest. I also suggest spending about half an hour a day in the sun, if possible, another yang therapy. Also excellent is to let go of all victim thinking, as this is very yin and disempowering. This includes all political philosophies that endorse and promote the concept of victims and victimhood. Feeling sorry for some group or other, and offering them special benefits is extremely popular today, but not particularly beneficial for anyone.
Much better are political and moral belief systems that support people learning to help and govern themselves, rather than accepting 'benefits' or 'entitlements' of any sort. This view promotes personal empowerment and is more yang. Unfortunately, this perspective is not so popular today.
Yang therapy is appropriate for about 95% of adults and a somewhat smaller percentage of children. The others require less cooked vegetables, less animal products, fewer saunas and more fruit and juices.
Many who appear yang are not really so. They are merely toxic in a certain way that appears yang. Certain toxic metals such as cadmium are either so yang themselves or they cause changes in the nervous system that make a person appear very yang. However, they are weak underneath, often extremely so. When toxins such as cadmium, lead, mercury and others are released, the person’s true yin condition becomes obvious.
Understanding yin and yang detoxification helps explain why a particular therapy may work for a while, but then stops working. It also explains why a therapy may have worked well one hundred years ago, but is less helpful today. It can also explain why a therapy or approach such as drug medicine helps some people, but not others.
MORE ABOUT YIN AND YANG
There is some disagreement among acupuncturists and those who study oriental philosophy regarding what is yin and what is yang. Most agree, however, that yang is contracted, hot, masculine, active, aggressive, salty, loud, red in color and under the earth as opposed to above. Yin is cold, damp, still, receptive, feminine, grows above ground, blue or purple in color and more ethereal.
Yin and yang organs. Hollow organs are more yin such as the lungs, intestines, heart and stomach. The lungs are the most yin, as they are literally spongy and airy. The more solid organs are more yang such as the liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas and all the glands.
For more about acupuncture and nutritional balancing science, read Acupuncture on this website.
Nickel, D., 1995, Int. J. Acupuncture and Oriental Med, 6:1-4; p 26-29. (this article explores how supplements used in nutritional balancing science correlate with acupuncture herbs in their mineral content. The latter are based on assessing yin and yang with the acupuncture pulses and many other methods of assessment.