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Yang deficiency occurs where the creative, transforming energy
that maintains life in your body, and keeps all your mental and bodily functions going, lacks full
In a city, if the power is reduced, lights are dimmer, machines
work less efficiently, TV pictures are smaller, it’s darker. Things don’t move
or happen as quickly. Mobiles are slow to charge up, cooking takes longer because
the heat isn’t as high, messages are relayed more slowly, decisions protracted, repairs delayed. Traffic lights are underpowered and misunderstood. Everything is more sluggish.
It’s the same in your body!
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Basic Yang Deficiency Symptoms
- Body can’t keep itself warm properly
- Feeling of coldness, better for being covered or warmed
- Poor circulation: cold arms, hands, legs and feet
- Prefer warmth, of weather, clothing, central heating, of
food and drink
- May have low back pain or soreness
- May have pale or transparent urine: often
- Digestion may be poor
- Stools may be loose or contain undigested food (Stomach Yang
- Tendency to withdraw, to reduce communications
- Tongue: often pale
- Pulse: often slow, may be weak
- Yang deficiency leads to Empty Cold
Causes of Yang Deficiency
- Invasion by Full cold that has injured Yang
- Long exposure to cold from not wearing enough: don't ignore this! Many people from fashion consciousness wear too little, especially in winter. They look great - ! - but by continually or frequently exposing themselves to cold, they gradually deplete their Yang energy.
- Consuming too much ‘cold’-type food or drinks. These are either
cold or icy cold to the touch, or raw, or inappropriately cold to the season,
or foods with a cooling or cold-increasing effect on the body.
- Physical work that is too much for your constitution. The exertion or load may
be too heavy, or have gone on for too long: overwork. This includes any form of
physical activity, even if enjoyable and enjoyed, that exceeds the body’s
ability to recover properly in the available time. Some athletes permanently
injure their Yang energy by training at just beyond their body’s capacity – overworking
- Even jogging and running are great, but when they exceed your body's ability to repair itself properly, you'll injure your Yang energy.
- Not giving yourself enough recovery time from even normal levels of physical
activity is another way to overwork.
- Mentally, in impressionable people, bullying may harm
- Fear, prolonged, may damage Kidney Yang.
Yang Deficiency in other areas
The Organ energies of the body, the Zang-fu, more susceptible
to Yang deficiency are:
What can You do about it?
- Rest more! Take more time between bouts of physical
activity. Get plenty of sleep – little and
often naps are good if you can.
- Keep warm. If you’ve recently suffered from exposure to
severe cold, or had an illness that caused full cold in the interior, you must
allow your body time to recover before you resume your former levels of activity.
- Consume nothing that is cold, icy, or raw. Make sure all
food and drink you consume is warm and warming. Chew all foods very thoroughly
- Eat nourishing, warming foods. It is usually better to eat well
within your stomach’s limits rather than to over-eat and stuff yourself. Try to
eat 5 small meals a day rather than 3 big ones.
- Avoid physical exhaustion. Take gentle activity, only slowly
building up to what you did before. As your body shows signs of age, be even
- Sex? Less: or practise abstinence for a while! In some
people regular sex can be very draining when they already have Yang deficiency. This especially applies to Men.
- Enjoy plenty of warm sunlight. Don’t let yourself burn,
however, and realise that over-exposure to heat can also be draining.
giving your eyes a sunbath: take off any glasses or shades you are wearing and if possible take out any contact lenses, though this is less important.
- Then, with your eyes closed, face the sun and, still with eyes closed, look towards the sun for 10 minutes daily.
(Do not open your eyes while they are facing the sun!)
- Don’t talk or sing for too long at a time. Don't shout.
- Avoid worrying and fearful situations or stimuli.
- Let someone else take important decisions for you until you
- Avoid standing for too long, especially if you are carrying
anything, and avoid walking very slowly for long periods. So, no window-shopping! No dawdling as you wait for a friend: go and sit somewhere or arrange to meet them where you can sit while waiting.
Well ... you’d expect us to say acupuncture, this being an
acupuncture focussed site. Acupuncture however, whilst great for mobilising
your body’s Qi to create the circumstances for Yang creation, should be an important
- Moxibustion over the appropriate acupuncture points, and
other treatments that are warming, are initially more important than
acupuncture on its own. Hot stone treatment, warm baths, warm friends and
surroundings will help.
- Don’t try to treat this deficiency yourself. Get expert
help. Why, especially here? Because your body is made up of both Yang and Yin
energies. Strengthening Yang will affect Yin. Too much Yang-enhancing
treatment, especially with herbs, may produce symptoms of heat or over–excitement
of Yang before Yin has had a chance to catch up.
- Also, if there is any sign of Full-Cold, or Damp, or Phlegm, (each of which is a form of excess Yin), as well as Yang deficiency, then the Full-cold, Damp or Phlegm must usually be cleared first before addressing the Yang deficiency. But don't think you're being overcharged for unnecessary treatments! By clearing the Yin obstacle, your Yang energy will naturally begin to recover, just as the tectonic plates under Northern Europe are rising now that the 3 Kilometres of ice-age snow has gone. (Mind you, they seem to be taking their time.)
- Let someone else judge when best to stimulate Yang and when to stimulate Yin. For example, you may think you have Yang deficiency, but your friendly neighbourhood acupuncturist might realise that you also have Yin deficiency. If Yin deficiency predominates, tonifying Yang first with moxa or Yang-tonic herbs might be counter-productive.
- Also, in advising you which foods or herbs are best for you, your acupuncturist will have to decide how strong your digestion is: no point suggesting strong Yang tonics (which can be heavy and cloying) if you can’t digest them. Read our page on Nutrition to begin to get a feel for all this.
- It is seldom correct just to strengthen Yang and to ignore Yin (and the reverse applies too.) In strengthening Yang, you affect your body’s ability to digest food, to perspire, to think creatively, to warm up and cool down. Each of these also has roots in your Yin energy.
So get expert help. See a member of the British Acupuncture Council.
Once you're better from this deficiency?
If you over-strained yourself physically because you don’t
normally take any form (or much) exercise, then do try to take up something
physical that you know you can keep up and that will improve your physical
60 years a Royal Canadian Air Force physiotherapist designed
a 10-minute exercise regime (see left) that all their staff could do every day. It's got
what you need, man or woman, to keep fit without over-straining yourself. You
work through it at your own speed.
I've used it for years and found it kept me fit to run for buses and up stairs, able to lift heavy objects and generally just feel comfortable in my body. (But I also do some yoga.)
Then please read our page on Yin deficiency because you’ll find some of
it applies to Yang deficiency too.
And again, what may seem obvious, please don’t let yourself become
over-exposed to cold! Make sure you keep warm.
Yin and Yang are two of the 8 Principles.
Return from Yang Deficiency to Yin and Yang.
Find an Acupuncturist!
If you live in the Edinburgh area of Scotland, where the author of this site (and of the book(s) described below) works, click on Edinburgh Acupuncturist.
If you live elsewhere, click on BAcC.
3000 years of Chinese being stressed, and at last, here's a book showing how all that experience can help you!
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