The yin-yang theory is one of the fundamental theories of Chinese Medicine. It originates in the Taoist philosophy of ancient China. Yin-yang theory provides a basis for analyzing and understanding the human body including its internal function and its relationship to the outside world.
From a medical perspective, the yin-yang theory helps explain imbalances in the body and how these can lead to dysfunction. It also provides guidance and methodology for the treatment of such imbalances and of disease.
The Yin and the Yang
The yin-yang theory states that all things in the universe are governed by opposing, yet interdependent forces. Yin represents the passive and yang represents the active.
One can find many ways to describe these opposing forces like night and day, or cold and hot. These concepts cannot stand alone, we need to know hot to understand cold and so on.
Characteristics of Yin and Yang
The relationship between yin and yang is governed by unique characteristics. These include opposition, interdependence, relative waxing and wanding, and transformation. By understanding these characteristics of the yin-yang one can truly understand the interconnectedness of different part of the body.
Yin-yang forces work in opposition to each other and can thereby work to create balance.
Opposing forces are connected, one can be used to influence the other and vice-versa.
Waxing and Wanding:
This describes the different stages of yin and yang as they transition and interact. For example- morning, noon, and evening are all used to describe a different time (stage) of the day (yang).
Yin can transform into yang, and yang can transform into yin. This relationship is observed in the day and night cycles, day turns into night and night turns into day.
The Yin-Yang in All Things
The concept of yin and yang applies to all things in the universe. There needs to be an outside for there to be an inside. There needs to be day for there to be night and so forth.
The yin and yang of a concept divides into more yin and yang components. For example, the peripheral nervous system divides into the autonomic (involuntary) and somatic (voluntary) components, which represent yin and yang respectively.
The autonomic nervous system divides into parasympathetic (rest-and-digest) and sympathetic (fight-or-flight) systems, which also represents yin and yang respectively. In other words, the parasympathetic nervous system represents the yin of the yin and sympathetic the yang of the yin.
This multi-level application of the yin-yang theory to the body helps to analyze function and disease at various levels. It provides a platform for a holistic approach to the treatment of disease.
Ying-Yang in Chinese Medicine
Yin-yang components apply all throughout the human body. These are helpful in understanding the cause of disease, its progression, and how to treat it.
For example, yin in closely related to anatomy- the organ itself. While Yang is closely related to physiology- the organ’s function. In other words, the relation between shape and function. A change to an organ’s shape (yin) will affect its function(yang), and a change in function (yang) will affect its shape (yin).
This shape and function relationship is visible everywhere in the body. In blood vessels, for example, a change in shape (like a plage) will alter its function (ability to deliver blood). The opposite is also true, a change in function (like hyperglycemia) will alter shape (vascular damage).
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