Traditional Chinese Medicine

Yin Yang

Ancient Chinese people were greatly interested in the relationships and patterns that occurred in nature. Instead of studying isolated things, they viewed the world as a harmonious and holistic entity. In their eyes, no single being or form could exist unless it was seen in relation to its surrounding environment.

The Origin of the Yin Yang Theory

The original concept of yin and yang came from the observation of nature and the environment. “Yin” originally referred to the shady side of a slope while “yang” referred to the sunny side. Later, this thinking was used in understanding other occurrences, which occurred in pairs and had complementary and opposing characteristics in nature. Some examples include: sky and earth, day and night, water and fire, active and passive, male and female and so on. Working with these ideas, ancient people recognized nearly all things could have yin and yang properties. Yin and yang can describe two relative aspects of the same phenomena such as the example of the slope, or they can describe two different objects like sky and earth.
Usually, yang is associated with energetic qualities. For example, movement, outward and upward direction, heat, brightness, stimulation, activity and excitement are all yang qualities. Yin, on the other hand, is associated with the physical form of an object and has less energetic qualities such as rest, inward and downward direction, cold, darkness, condensation, inhibition, and nourishment. See Table 1 for a description of yin and yang characteristics.

yingyangearth

 

Five Phases Theory
Five Phases (五行wǔ xíng), sometimes also translated as the “Five Elements” theory, presumes that all phenomena of the universe and nature can be broken down into five elemental qualities – represented by wood (木mù), fire (火huǒ), earth (土tǔ), metal (金jīn), and water (水shuǐ). In this way, lines of correspondence can be drawn:

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Phenomenon
Wood
Fire
Earth
Metal
Water
Direction
east
south
center
west
north
Color
green/blue
red
yellow
white
black
Climate
wind
heat
damp
dryness
cold
Taste
sour
bitter
sweet
acrid
salty
Zang Organ
Liver
Heart
Spleen
Lung
Kidney
Fu Organ
Gallbladder
Small Intestine
Stomach
Large Intestine
Bladder
Sense organ
Eye
Tongue
Mouth
Nose
Ears
Facial part
above bridge of nose
between eyes, lower part
bridge of nose
between eyes, middle part
cheeks (below cheekbone)
Eye part
iris
inner/outer corner of the eye
upper and lower lid
sclera
pupil

Correspondences between the body and the universe have historically not only been seen in terms of the Five Elements, but also of the “Great Numbers” (大數dà shū) For example, the number of acu-points has at times been seen to be 365, in correspondence with the number of days in a year; and the number of main meridians – 12 – has been seen in correspondence with the number of rivers flowing through the ancient Chinese empire.
The term zàng (臟) refers to the five entities considered to be yin in nature – Heart, Liver, Spleen, Lung, Kidney -, while fǔ (腑) refers to the six yang organs – Small Intesrine, Large Intestine, Gallbladder, Urinary Bladder, Stomach and Sanjiao.

Fire (火) = Heart (心xīn) and Small Intestine (小腸xiaǒcháng) (and, secondarily, Sānjiaō [三焦, “Triple Burner”] and Pericardium [心包xīnbaò])

Earth (土) = Spleen (脾pí) and Stomach (胃weì)

Metal (金) = Lung (肺feì) and Large Intestine (大腸dàcháng)

Water (水) = Kidney (腎shèn) and Bladder (膀胱pǎngguāng)

Wood (木) = Liver (肝gān) and Gallbladder (膽dān)

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