Yin And Yang Theory – Definition And Application To Acupuncture

a yin and yang symbolYin and Yang is a concept in Chinese philosophy, which describes how contrary or opposite forces that are found all around us are actually complementary.

In the natural world, opposing forces such as fire and water or light and dark are actually interconnected and interdependent. The philosophy views everything in relation to its whole and explains every relationship between different objects.

How is Yin And Yang Applied In Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture?

Yin and Yang theory is an underlying concept used in every part of Chinese Medical theory as it relates to everything in existence, including the patient, their symptoms, anatomy and even the treatment approaches.


In acupuncture theory, the body is viewed as an entire organic unity. Depending on their locations and functions, several body parts are categorised into yin and yang accordingly. For instance, the upper body is yang in relation to the lower part of the body, which is the yin. The front part of the body is categorised as yin, while the back is yang. The interior and exterior body parts are also classified into yin and yang respectively.

This gets slightly more complicated when we start to take about the internal structures and substances that are found in the body. For example, organs that have a hollow structure such as the stomach, bladder, gall bladder and colon, to name but a few, are considered yang in relation to the organs that have a more dense nature. As such, organs like the liver, kidneys, spleen and heart are considered to be yin in nature. The heart is a slightly more unusual organ in Chinese medicine theory, as it is considered a yin organ but it is not actually a dense structure like the liver or the kidneys, but is actually a hollow structure. Here is more information on the heart organ in Chinese Medicine.

In Chinese Medical theory, the bodily substances such as the blood, body fluids and essence are considered to be yin, while the Qi, the invisible emotive force that permeates everything in nature and enables movement is considered to be yang. Therefore, the blood, body fluids and essence cannot exist without the yang to enable them to move, whereas these yin substances also give life to and support the Yang energy, so each is interdependent upon each other.

Physiological Application

Traditional Chinese medicine believes that you can only achieve perfect health if the yin and yang are in perfect health. Since the physical form and the overall body functions are balanced dynamically, they depend and restrict each other. For instance, the body can’t function if there is no physical form in place. Likewise, there also needs to be a dynamic movement of the Yang energy to facilitate the nourishment of the body by the various substances within.

Pathological Application

Any disharmony between the two forces results in physiological disorders and illnesses in the body. If this occurs, then it means the two forces are unbalanced and unequal, meaning one force is deficient while the other is in a state of excess, both can result in pathology.

Many factors cause the disharmony between yin and yang, but they are related to all the external influences that cause diseases. The flow of qi throughout the entire body can also cause some disharmony between the two forces. If there is a normal flow of qi, the body functions perfectly resulting in healthy immunity and faster recovery from illnesses. The Deficiency of normal Qi in the body results in disruption of the two forces resulting in disease.

Yin and yang theory has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine to discover the cause of illnesses and restore the body back to its proper function.

For more information on yin and yang theory and how it is used in Chinese Medicine, here is an interesting video form Dr.Wu.