Yin Excess: Full of Yin or Too much Cold

Yin Excess is more common than Yang Excess because it lasts longer. In its own way however, it’s almost as bad.
Man Walking in the Snow
Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

Yin Excess is all too common. (Sometimes it’s called Fullness of Yin.)

Unlike the extremes of Yang Excess, which don’t usually last too long, Fullness of Yin can remain in your body for years, even until you die.

However, it isn’t usually a killer: it just wears you down – so, for long-term health, you really need to clear it from your system.

If you aren’t sure what Yin is, I suggest you first read either or both of the following:


Yin Excess Symptoms

The basic form is that of Cold, Full Cold. However, as you’ll discover, you can get yin excess symptoms in other ways than just from cold.

Cold implies a lack of Yang, which would otherwise warm you up, and many of the other forms of excess Yin also occur because of deficient Yang.

Basic signs of excess Yin, in your system:

  • feeling cold (this happens particularly if the cause is Cold)
  • tightness (but other syndromes also produce tightness, including some kinds of Qi Stagnation)
  • slowness
  • shivering
  • constriction (other syndromes also produce this symptom)
  • stiffness (for example, with Damp invasion)
  • sleepiness (can occur in other syndromes too)
  • listlessness (also occurs in several other syndromes)
  • desire to be covered and kept warm (also occurs in Yang deficiency)
  • desire for warm food and drinks (also in Yang deficiency)
  • pallor (occurs in various kinds of Blood deficiency)
  • desire to curl up (also occurs in Yang deficiency)
  • weak voice (also occurs in Lung qi deficiency)
  • aversion to talking for long (also occurs in Lung qi deficiency)
  • rather weak or shallow breathing (also occurs in Lung qi deficiency)


What does the Patient look like with Yin Excess?


Tired and Pale From Cold food, a form of Yin Excess

The patient looks pale, his pulse feels ‘full’ and a bit slow.

Usually Yin excess develops more slowly than Yang excess. Yin excess also tends to be more common in chronic conditions. (Often, signs of Yin excess develop over a period of many months or even years.)

Why is this? Because Yang is the transforming force. Yin is what is transformed: it tends to continue as it is unless transformed, like our galaxy the Milky Way, which would take a huge ‘yang’ disturbance to push it off course.

Once we get Yin Excess symptoms, they are hard to shift. They become an impediment to change. But we have to clear them before treatment to strengthen Yang energy begins.

Also, being Yin, they have gravity. So if you have one form of yin excess, you’ll probably be more susceptible to other forms of yin excess.

Yin Excess Causes

1. From outside the body

  • Cold exposure (such as from sitting on cold ground, or from exposure to cold air) penetrates through the skin and stops Qi moving along the channels and through the joints. This produces ‘Painful Obstruction Syndrome’ with acute pain, cramps and stiffness, initially in the limbs. Untreated, or wrongly treated, this can become permanent, leading to chronic medical conditions such as arthritis.
  • Cold can enter via the mouth and nose, leading to Stomach Cold, Cold in the Intestines and Cold in the Uterus. Read up on Cold Foods – Foods that Cool you. Cold in the Uterus and Intestines can also come from Cold in the channels penetrating up them to enter the lower part of the trunk, harming the Intestines and the Uterus. This form of Yin excess can become permanent, chronically dissipating the health of the body.
  • Cold, in the form of an external pathogenic factor such as a virus or bacteria, can disrupt the working of the defences of the body, overcome its immune force (its ‘Wei Qi’ and ‘Upright’ Qi) and produce symptoms of Wind-Cold or Cold-Damp.


Umbrella in the rain: Damp - a form of Yin Excess
Photo by Bangkit Ristant on Unsplash


  • Damp can arise from over-exposure to damp, or cold water, including from swimming in cold water for too long, (though it could come theoretically from long exposure to warm water as well), to living in damp environments (think of living ‘rough’, and of damp basements), and to rain or snow.


2. From Inside the Body

When the body lacks the Yang energy to transform or dissipate these Yin energies before they take hold, you get:

  • Damp. This often combines with Cold to create a variety of Western Medicine disease syndromes from arthritis and fibromyalgia to commonly experienced problems like stiffness.
  • Damp, internally-generated damp, often comes from poor diet or eating habits: eating food that is cold when you are cold or unable to warm it sufficiently inside you to digest it properly, or raw food, sweet food or very greasy food.


Alcohol can lead to signs of Yin Excess
Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash


  • From alcohol, which disrupts your digestion
  • Over-eating: a surprisingly common cause of internal Damp. This is eating past the point when you are full, because your metabolism hasn’t caught up with the fact that you’ve eaten enough, and keeps asking for more. Over-eating also causes a syndrome that is called ‘Food Retention‘, which is also a form of excess Yin, (although if you read that page you’ll realise it has other attributes, affecting young and old alike). Usually, if you can control yourself for 30 minutes, you’ll find that the hunger goes.

How do you know that you’ve over-eaten?


Over-eating Cold foods can lead to Yin Excess


By that feeling of fullness

By the sleepy or tired feeling you get soon after over-eating. (People often take caffeine in the form of coffee, tea or chocolate to guard against this, confusing the body’s signalling system.)

By the increase in snot in your nose or mucus in your throat – signs of damp


  • Oedema: arises from disturbance in the natural workings of the body either from weakness, eg of Yang energy, or from invasion by Wind-Cold or Wind-Heat disrupting the Lungs function, or from Damp combined with Heat or from Spleen Yang deficiency, to name a few. See our page on Oedema when it’s ready.
  • Mucus: which can be in the nose, or generated in the genital area, when it is often incorrectly called candida albicans.


The Various Forms of Yin Excess

All these, Damp, Phlegm, Mucus and Oedema are expressions of Yin Fullness. If chronic, they can be hard to shift by yourself without treatment. Western Medicine has quite powerful drugs which may mask the symptoms but usually cause other problems.

I once had a blocked nose – an example of yin excess. See what happened by clicking here!

Another form of Yin excess is Blood Stasis, a whole subject in itself! 

Other pages on this site that you may find interesting include the following, some of which take you off in slightly different directions, including fish!

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4 Responses

    1. With global warming we are moving towards a situation caused by lack of water in many places, a form of yin deficiency. But if you’ve just been deluged in water, from a flash flood or downpour, you’ll be suffering from yin excess!

  1. Hi!

    I am man, 65 years old, and I think I have excess yin energy!
    I am always cold, and I am always tired.
    I am Tao instructor and I am practicing tao yoga every day.
    Can you recommend me some tao practices which will
    decrease my yin energy!

    Best Regard

    1. Hi Blagoj
      You haven’t given me enough information to provide a detailed explanation of what is happening, and although I’ve practised Hatha Yoga for over 55 years, I’m not familiar with Tao yoga, though the internet tells me it is connected with or rather like qigong.
      Most yoga practices, and certainly those of qigong, seek to improve the warmth in the body, so I wonder, first, if your practice is in some way cooling you. (There are, of course, yoga practices to cool yourself but living in a northern climate I’ve never needed to try them.)
      Secondly, is there anything you are doing to dissipate energy and warmth? Maybe you could look at our page on yang-deficiency. There’s even more information in my book on the subject.
      For information about yin excess, read our page on it, then if you have time, read our page on the invasion of Cold, which has been a subject of major interest for Chinese medicine for 1500 years.
      However, if you have low energy as well as a chronic feeling of coldness, probably you have yang-deficiency.

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