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Application of Yin Yang Theory to Body

Every sign, symptom and aspect of the body can be contemplated with yin and yang in mind. Before looking at medical applications and imbalances, first the structure of the body is placed into the two categories by their nature. This includes both the external surface of the body as well as the internal organs and meridians or channels (Surprisingly no introductory texts actually explain the origin of meridians and where they fit, thus I am throwing them in as well).

YinYang Application to Body Structure

There is a story that says the application of yin and yang to the body came from watching the way the noon time sun would hit an animal. Just as every hill had a sunny side and a shady side, so too does the animal. Every part of the animal that touched the sunlight was associated with yang and every part that was in shade was associated with yin. To yang went the entirety of the head, the posterior-lateral arms and legs, the posterior of the torso, etc. To yin went the anterior of the torso, the anterior-medial arms and legs, etc. Internally, those organs which are in direct contact with the outside world, mostly from mouth to anus, went to yang (a.k.a. the hollow organs). Those organs which open to the outside only indirectly went to yin (solid organs). Here are the basics:

Body Structure Aspects
Yang Yin
Superior
Posterior
Lateral
Exterior
Organ Function
Qi
Hollow Organs(Fu)
Inferior
Anterior
Medial
Interior
Organ Structure
Blood/Body Fluids
Solid Organs(Zang)

As for the meridians, the split is correlated to both the meridians organ association and it's location. Interestingly, all of the hollow organs have meridians which run along the posterior-lateral aspects of the arms and legs. Similarly all the solid organs have meridians that run along the anterior-medial aspects of the arms and legs. (What's curious is even though some meridians have a greater percentage of points on one aspect of the body, they fall into the other.)

YinYang Application to Pathology and Treatment

It is the imbalance between yin and yang in the body that is one of the major pathologies in TCM. In addition, the nature and characteristics of an illness and how it runs its course, can also give inclinations to whether the pathogen or pattern is yin or yang.

Pathology Aspects
Yang Yin
Acute Disease
Rapid Onset
External Pathogen
Changes in Pathology
Qi Disease
Hot Illnesses
Dry Illnesses
Hardness*
Hyperactivity
Chronic Disorder
Gradual Onset
Internal Disorder
Lingering Pathology
Blood Disease
Cold Illnesses
Damp Illnesses
Softness*
Hypoactivity
*Hardness and softness refer to lumps, masses and swellings.

Recall the graph from the four properties page (YinYang Graph). It is this property of mutual consuming and supporting that gives us four major pathologies (Yin deficiency, Yin Excess, Yang deficiency, Yang Excess). Each have a set of symptoms and signs discussed in the Eight Principles section. Balance must be achieved, so the strategy is to tonify that which is deficient, and reduce that which is excess. Yin and yang patterns are rather serious patterns and are not as simple as those that are in the table above. Just because you have a qi deficiency does not mean that you have yang deficiency. In these cases, any effect you wish to have on yin and yang should be indirect or subtle.



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