Yang Excess: Too Much of a Good Thing!

Angry Woman
Image by npriddey from Pixabay

Yang Excess, like Yin Excess, describes a state our bodies reach when trying to change or overcome something with power. Often it produces heat and inflammation.

It can be a moment of jubilation, but in Chinese medicine it represents a powerful push to deal with an intolerable situation.

Words that describe Yang and in some cases excess Yang include:

  • Heat
  • Inflammation
  • Tension
  • Excitement
  • Changing
  • Transforming
  • Fever
  • Euphoria
  • Rage
  • Apoplexy
  • Elation
  • Orgasm (actually the moment of temporary Yang excess is just before orgasm, which dissipates the excess)
  • Success


As you can see, they cover quite a range! Also, none of them lasts long, or not very long. The body – and mind – can’t maintain Yang excess for long: it’s exhausting!

But the theory says that if the symptoms of yang excess do their job, there will be a change to a more satisfactory situation, no matter how pleasurable or painful the actual moment of yang excess was.

The theory also explains that yang excess transforms into symptoms of yin.

After …

  • the orgasm comes rest
  • euphoria: tranquillity
  • fever: cooling
  • success: satisfaction
  • excitement: boredom
  • tension: relaxation
  • change: stability.


Of course, if the situation cannot resolve in those ways, and yang excess continues, then it leads ultimately to destruction, exhaustion, death.

Think of …

  • mania that tears itself apart
  • continuing fevers that destroy health
  • never-ending war that exhausts the combatants
  • inflammation and itch which drives you crazy
  • elation and euphoria that make you hysterical.

Causes of Excess Yang

Since this site is more about physical than spiritual or mental matters, it tends to concentrate on physical causes of disease. But emotional matters can strongly affect how your body reacts – see what happened to me further down the page.

Mostly, excess Yang is accompanied by Heat.

Where does this Heat come from?

1. Other pathogenic factors


Wind and Heat - External causes of disease, producing yang excess and, often, inflammation
Desert wind – Photo by Luca Zanon on Unsplash


This is where what are called ‘pathogenic factors’ over time or when treated the wrong way turn into Heat.

For example, windcolddrynessdamp, all of which are pathogenic factors that can be of external or internal form, can all turn into heat as the body tries to resolve the challenges they pose. (If you didn’t click on the links to wind, cold, dryness and damp, you’ll have missed out on how Chinese medicine explains our reactions to the bugs we catch.)

Why? Because your body strives to clear them by ‘turning on’ its full power, in combat as it were. Of course this can also happen by mistake as a result of medication or in reaction to other treatment. But your body’s basic design is to produce inflammation.

2. External Pathogenic Factors

If the pathogenic factor is external, it’s easier to see this process and to understand it: inflammation and itch, for example.

Children and young healthy adults can often produce high fever in reaction to even mild ‘bugs’ such as colds or coughs (classified as, for example, Wind Heat or Wind Cold in Chinese medicine).

Their bodies, exuberant with energy, ‘pile’ into the invader without hesitation: sometimes to the alarm of parents, because the fevers produced can rapidly go very high.

3. Wrong Diet

The wrong diet/nutrition can set the process off.

For example, someone who eats too much hot-type food (usually this is spicy, fatty and meaty food, lacking compensatory cool foods like vegetables and fruit).

Or someone keen on alcohol (which is also heating), can begin to produce symptoms of heat, ie inflammations such as eczema or a hot rash.


Curry - delicious - but too much or often leads to yang excess and inflammation

If they keep eating the wrong foods, their diet will ultimately affect their behaviour, leading towards what you might call a kind of mania: certainly rather excitable behaviour, often unreasonable and irritable.

In turn, their body’s habitual ‘heat’ makes them more susceptible to Hot, Yang excess, disease.

4. Emotions

Emotions. Who would have thought that emotions can be so heating, but they can!

  • I got very angry a few years ago about a situation that was largely out of my control but for which I was held responsible.
  • I began to develop Heat symptoms. For example, a rash on my legs, smelly diarrhoea, sleep disturbed by dreams and, in hindsight, an intolerant and over-sensitive attitude.
  • Everyone agreed with my point of view (well … I was telling them the story, so of course they agreed with me!) and eventually I went to a colleague for acupuncture.
  • The diagnosis was Liver qi stagnation, beginning to turn into Heart Fire.
  • Fortunately the treatment helped me calm down and take the appropriate action (I resigned, much to the consternation of the other parties) and I felt much better.
  • But this goes to show that even those of us who are supposedly knowledgeable can be affected by them.
  • Your emotions can be powerful causes of disease

What Happens to your Yang Excess?

If you are healthy and balanced, your body will exteriorise the symptoms.

That means that if the cause is a relationship or situation, you’ll deal with it assertively, leading to effective changes.

If your body has produced symptoms, those will also be externalised as a rash or a fever, or eczema or some other sign of heat such as offensive and urgent bowel movements.

These can be embarrassing and unwelcome, but this is how your body is designed: to keep the problem as far from the centre as possible. You don’t want a rash on your liver organ!

If your body can’t exteriorise the problem, either because of impossible circumstances, or because of infirmity or age, then the Yang Excess will start to interfere with your Zangfu organs. Then you can get something approaching auto-immune type disease – but usually this will start off as one of a number of zangfu syndromes.

Symptoms common to all kinds of excess Yang are:

  • Restless
  • Thirst
  • Urine is dark and may be scanty
  • Feeling of Heat


Bush fire
Fire and Heat – neil-thomas-unsplash
  • Tongue: tendency to be red often with a thick coat, depending on associated conditions. Also, research reported in the Journal of Chinese medicine Vol4, No.1 March 1984 found an increase in the number of fungiform papillae, with swelling and redness which often occurred with excess Yang heat, perhaps signifying a strong reaction of the body’s disease-resisting process – its immune system.
  • Pulse: tends to be rapid rather than slow.

Which zangfu organs are most likely to be affected by excess yang?

  1. Lungs. Here you may get a cough, for example, or difficulty breathing. Your energy may suffer. Skin will probably be affected. You may sweat more. With excess Yang, your mucus membranes and skin may get dry.
  2. Heart. Symptoms here include palpitations and a sense of loss of control. Sleep may be disturbed.
  3. Liver. Many kinds of tension appear, with headaches. Anger and frustration with depression, are common.
  4. Stomach. Difficulty thinking, nausea, vomiting, changes in appetite.
  5. Any yang excess can produce dizziness and ear noises, tightness in the upper parts of the body. Even hypertension.

Avoid Suppression if you can!

So, if you notice any of these happening, head for your nearest experienced acupuncturist! Or seek help from someone who can give you objective and helpful advice.

Remember, it’s all too easy to get medication from your doctor, or over-the-counter. Taking medication to quell Yang Excess is not a good idea, except in absolute emergencies. Modern medicine’s medication is often suppressive – it’s supposed to be! But crushing the yang excess of an angry child does little good in the long run: it just forces the problem to a deeper level, where disease begins.

Primary and Secondary Actions

Also, do realise that medicines have primary and secondary actions. Of course, any form of medicine has this, including Chinese herbal medicine, but with the latter the secondary actions are utilised and ‘guided’ with ancillary or ‘assistant’ herbs.

And if you wonder about homoeopathy, in many ways it’s the secondary action of the ‘remedy’ that is curative, so is actually necessary – this is unique to homoeopathy. This is because the primary action of the remedy is to match or exaggerate the symptoms (“Similia Similibus Curantur” – ‘Like Affections are cured by their Similars’). The secondary action is the body’s response to the remedy’s action, working in the opposite direction, towards health.

So do read our page on Suppression. For some Yang Excess situations you may be overwhelming what little yang you have!

If you would like to know more about yang energy, I invite you to read my book on the subject: “Yang Deficiency – Get Your Fire Burning Again“. Although its title is ‘Yang Deficiency‘  you’ll get a much better idea of what it’s all about than from this page.

You should also see a link to it in the column at right, or below.

Jonathan Brand colours

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