In Chinese Medicine, we believe that a healthy body is a balanced body. Health issues occur when the body and mind are out of balance.
In the Traditional Chinese Medicine system, practitioners evaluate the systems of the body to uncover the root causes of imbalance. We interview the patient about their symptoms, health history, mental and physical health. We also use a unique Chinese Medicine approach by feeling the patient’s wrist pulses and by observing the patterns of the tongue.
One of the patterns that can come up is an imbalance between yin and yang. In Chinese Medicine, yin and yang should be in a balanced state. If the yin is weak, the symptoms that come up include easily feeling heated, hot flashes, flushing and redness of the face, headaches (especially worsened by dehydration, exertion or the heat/sun), sweating (especially night sweating), quick to anger, and irritability.
How do you support the yin? Foods, herbs, and lifestyle changes support the yin of the body.
Include these foods as part of your diet. These recommendations are not about exclusively eating only these foods. These are healthy foods that you can integrate into your diet to promote balance. Some of these foods may already be part of your diet, so continue on! There might be foods that you haven’t tried before, so it’s fun to experiment by expanding your diet. Food is medicinal, but should also be pleasurable- don’t force yourself to eat foods you don’t enjoy. There are plenty of options on this list.
Grains: barley, buckwheat, millet (avoid millet if you have a thyroid disorder), oats, rice, and wheat.
**Please note: barley and wheat contain gluten. Avoid these if you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease.
Vegetables: alfalfa sprout, artichoke, asparagus, cucumber, mung bean sprout, mushrooms, pea, potato, seaweed, string bean, squash, sweet potato, tomato, water chestnut, yam, and zucchini.
Fruit: Apple, apricot, avocado, banana, blackberry, blueberry, lemon, lime, mango, mulberry, peach, pear, persimmon, pineapple, pomegranate, and watermelon.
Nuts and seeds: coconut (coconut oil, coconut milk, unsweetened fresh or dried coconut), sesame seeds and tahini, black sesame seeds, and walnut.
Proteins: aduki beans, black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans, fish and seafood (except shrimp and prawns), beef, duck, goose, pork, rabbit, chicken and duck eggs.
Dairy: cow, sheep and goat dairy products (if tolerated), ghee. Yogurt is considered especially cooling and yin nourishing.
Other foods: beef bone marrow broth, fish oil, raw honey, and olive oil.
A Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine practitioner can prescribe specific herbs to balance the yin and yang of your body. Some common herbal formulas to support the yin include: Liu Wei Di Huang Wan, Zhi Bai Di Huang Wan, and Zuo Gui Wan.
A weak yin can cause to body to overheat. Here are some cooling foods to include in your diet: lettuce and vegetable salads, raw sprouts, fresh fruit (especially watermelon, melons, peaches), cucumber, celery, seaweed, mung bean soup, yogurt, bean and grain salads, and fish.
Drink mint, chamomile, lemon balm, hibiscus, rose hip and chrysanthemum teas, hot or cooled. Green and white tea are also cooling, but avoid these if you have anxiety or insomnia since they contain caffeine. You can add cucumber, mint and lemon slices to water for a refreshing drink.
If you have night sweats or excessive sweats, use good quality salt like himalayan, celtic, and fleur du sel when salting your food. These natural salts contain vital trace minerals to replace those lost through sweat. Electrolyte powders, coconut water and naturally fermented drinks like water kefir, coconut water kefir, and kombucha also help with hydration.
Avoid foods that are very heating including: hot peppers, chilies, hot spicy food in general, lamb, venison, shrimp, prawns, and trout.
When the yin is weak, it can lead to anxiety. Here are some herbs to calm and cool: oat straw, skullcap, chamomile, catnip, mint, valerian, lemon balm, oyster shell, jujube, and schisandra berries. You can make herbal teas from these herbs or use tinctures. Please consult with an herbalist for doses.
Here’s my favorite herbal relaxant combination: mix together in a glass jar the following dried herbs- 2 cups chamomile, 1 cup peppermint, 1/2 cup nettles, 1/2 cup lemon balm. To prepare the tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1/2 Tablespoon of this mixture in a mug. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain the herbs, and add honey or lemon to taste. You can also place the herbs into a tea bag or tea ball to steep. (This saves the straining step).
Also find ways to “cool down” emotionally by meditating, practicing deep breathing, taking walks, exercising, and decreasing stress in your life.
Protect your yin.
Strengthen your yin with healthy lifestyle choices. Yin energy is all about calm, cool energy. It’s about slowing down, resting, and restorative sleep. Consider these:
- Practice moderate exercise like tai qi, walking, swimming, hatha yoga, and restorative yoga (avoid “hot” yoga which can further deplete the yin).
- Practice meditation, guided imagery, mindfulness, or chi gong. These practices help relax the mind, calm the nervous system, and manage stress and anxiety.
- Go to bed by 10:30 in order to restore yin. Create a healthy bedtime ritual: turn off computers and phones, drink herbal tea, write in your journal, spritz lavender oil on your pillow, wear a sleep mask, or listen to a guided meditation.