of the major assumptions inherent in Chinese traditional
medicine is that disease is due to an internal imbalance
of Yin and Yang; therefore disease can be treated by correcting
the Yin Yang imbalance, thereby returning the body to a
healthy state. The Chinese assume that the body is a whole,
and each part of it is intimately connected. Each organ
has a mental as well as a physical function.
authors, such as Ivan Illich, have been hypercritical of Western
medicine and thus some people have looked upon Chinese traditional
medicine as not just an alternative but a superior system
of medicine. But it is just another medical system, with ideas
that may be of benefit to the individual patient and Western
medicine as a whole, but it cannot be promulgated as either
superior or a cure all. The major disadvantage of Western
medicine is that it has the potential to cause a great deal
of harm. Chinese traditional medicine, on the other hand,
is most unlikely to cause any serious damage as it is a particularly
safe form of therapy; this is undoubtedly one of its main
Yin and Yang
theory of yin and yang is a kind of world outlook. It holds
that all things have two opposite aspects, yin and yang, which
are both opposite and at the same time interdependent. This
is a universal law of the material world. These two aspects
are in opposition to each other but because one end of the
spectrum cannot exist without the other they are interdependent.
ancient Chinese used water and fire to symbolize yin and yang;
anything moving, hot, bright and hyperactive is yang, and
anything quiescent, cold, dim and hypoactive is yin.
yin and yang properties of things are not absolute but relative.
As an object or person changes so the yin and yang components
change at a gradual rate. Each of the yin and yang properties
of the object is a condition for the existence of the other;
neither can exist in isolation.
two opposites are not stationary but in constant motion. If
we imagine the circadian rhythm, night is yin and day is yang;
as night (yin) fades it becomes day (yang), and as yang fades
it becomes yin. Yin and yang are therefore changing into each
other as well as balancing each other.
The Application of Yin and Yang to Chinese
organ has an element of yin and yang within it. The histological
structures and nutrients are yin, and the functional activities
are yang. Some organs are predominantly yang in their functions,
such as the gan-liver, while others are predominantly yin,
such as the shen-kidney. Even though one organ may be predominantly
yin (or yang) in nature, the balance of yin and yang is maintained
in the whole healthy body because the sum total of the yin
and yang will be in a fluctuating balance.
a condition of prolonged excess or deficiency of either yin
or yang occurs then disease results. In an excess of yin the
yang qi would be damaged, and a disease of cold of shi nature
would develop. Excess of yang will consume yin and a disease
of heat of shi nature would develop. In a deficiency of yin,
diseases of heat of xu nature develop, while a deficiency
of yang causes diseases of cold of xu nature.