How It Works

The theory of Yin and Yang is fundamental to TCM. Yin and Yang are terms used to describe two polar opposites.

Many are eluded by this universal symbol Yin and Yang. In Chinese philosophy the concept of Yin (internal, receptive) and Yang (external, creative) is used to describe how opposing forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, giving rise to each other in turn.

Many natural dualities – e.g. dark and light, female and male, low and high – are cast in Chinese thought as yin yang. According to the philosophy, yin and yang are complementary opposites within a greater whole.

Everything has both yin and yang aspects, which constantly interact, never existing in absolute stasis. (taken from Wikapedia) Body parts, organs, and symptoms in the body can all be described in terms of Yin and Yang. four possible states of imbalance:

  • Excess of Yin
  • Excess of Yang
  • Deficiency of Yin
  • Deficiency of Yang

In treating the overall pattern of disharmony, the TCM practitioner uses acupuncture and Chinese herbs to address all imbalances of Yin and Yang.

The 5 Elements

Imbalances between Yin and Yang can be remedied though the treatment of the 5 Elements (or 5 Phases) in the body.

The theory of the 5 Elements looks at 5 interrelated forces that have specific relationships to one another. The five images used to describe these forces are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Each of these elements has corresponding organs, emotions, colors, tastes, tissues, human sounds, and endless other correspondences. The following table shows some of these 5 Phase correspondences:

long 5 element chart

The elements are described as “phases” because they have relationships to one another which are defined by movement and motion. These phases interact according to patterns of “generating” and “controlling”.

As an example, Fire is said to “generate” Earth and “control” Metal. Therefore, disharmonies in both the Earth and Metal phases can be addressed by treating Fire. This kind of 5 phase diagnosis can be very useful clinically in determining an acupuncture treatment.