Yin (and Yang) and Damp Weather

This is the first article that I have written regarding these mysterious ideas of Yin and Yang. Today I want to focus on Yin. I think this has come to my mind because of the amazing amounts of rain we are having, and the effects that I am seeing on my clients and my self.

Yin and Yang can be likened to water and fire, though this is a very simplistic and limited idea. Traditionally, Yin is thought of as representing the shady side of a mountain where it is always damp and still. Yin is interior, downward moving, dense, cool, wet, female, stillness. Yang is the sunny side of the mountain, warm, hot even, exterior, upward moving, diffuse, male, activity.

When we evaluate a patient in the clinic, one of the first things we ask is ‘is this person more Yin or more Yang?’ So this is a basic way of beginning to assess our patient. The same can be asked of a weather pattern.

In the land of rain, where we have found ourselves lately so much, Yin is predominant. Yin in this case can be seen in the rain and humidity that seems constant these days. Yin can also be seen in the fact that because of this weather pattern, we are not inclined to go outside and walk, or to be active much in other ways. We are feeling more like sitting inside, reading, playing scrabble, or catching up on some quiet chores we have neglected this summer.

The symptoms of Yin excess in the body are showing up as well. These include stiff, sore, and swollen joints, runny noses, clammy skin, sinus type things, and increased numbers of fungal growths and damp rashes. People may be having more loose stools, even. Some report heavy headedness and sinus fullness. Or just feeling like sleeping a lot.

The dampness of the environment provokes the development of dampness in the human body.

Chinese medicine has noted these patterns for centuries. In fact, many of the diagnostic terms sound like weather patterns. This basic idea reflects the concept that the human body is part of the patterns of earth, and therefore responds or resonates with the earths activities at any given time.

So, if you go to your acupuncturist and they say you are suffering from dampness lodging in your joints, don’t be surprised. This is our way of understanding. And our way of developing a treatment. We have herbs for dampness, and acupuncture points that help the body deal with dampness.

It might also be a good time to avoid foods that contribute to the development of dampness, and instead try to consume more foods that warm the body and help it dry out. So we’d recommend that you avoid dairy products, alcohol, raw vegetables and fruits (I know that is hard when it is so hot out), and try eating more warm spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric and curry powder, and squashes and yams to help the organ called Spleen in its ability to transform and rid dampness from the body.

Hopefully soon we will get back to a better balance of Yin and Yang for the summer.