The Basis of Chinese Medicine – Yin and Yang
The philosophical basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the theory of the two dualistic forces Yin and Yang, which contrary to the European dualistic conception of the world, are not two separate entities, but forces interlocking and supplementing each other. Both these forces are in permanent motion. Harmony, the basic principle of the order of the world, depends on the balance between Yin and Yang.
The Yellow Emperor said:
The principle of Yin and Yang (the male and female elements in nature) is the basic principle of the entire universe. It is principle of everything in creation. It brings about the transformation and parenthood; it is the root and source of life and death; it is also found within the temples of the gods.
Yin denotes the shady, gloomy element, while Yang denotes the bright and sunny element. To these two basic forces of the world various qualities are being attached. Thus Yang denotes the sun, day, fire, heat, dryness and light, spreading and ascending, while Yin symbolizes the moon, earth, night, water, cold, humidity and darkness, shrinking and descending. Yang means motion, life and beauty, while Yin symbolizes stagnancy, death and ugliness. Similar differences can be enumerated ad infinitum. It must be borne in mind that these two principles must exist together, they can never appear separately and absolutely, Yang is contained in Yin and Yin is contained in Yang.
All branches of science, including medicine, were influenced by the Yin and Yang theory. The health of a man depends entirely on the harmony between Yin and Yang. As soon as the balance between these two elements is disturbed, illness appears or even death may follow.
According to NEIJING the human body is divided into three parts, each of which consists of the Yin and Yang element. The names of these regions are as the following: Yang (Taiyang, Shaoyang, Yangming), Yin (Taiyin, Shaoyin, Jueyin). Till now these names are being used for the Twelve Meridians. The organs in the human body are divided into Yin and Yang organs as well. The stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and Triple Warmer belong to Yang organs (which derive the energy from the outer world), while the heart, lungs, liver, kidney, spleen and pericardium belong to the Yin organs (which convey the energy Qi).
Vital energy Qi or Chi
In the view of the ancient Chinese physicians, the vital energy Qi circulates in the human body in the course of 24 hours through the Twelve Meridians bearing the names of the organs in the following order:
- large intestine
- small intestine
- Triple Warmer
The incessant and undisturbed flow of Qi suggests the balance and harmony between Yin and Yang, i.e. health.
Qi is what differentiates a live person from a dead one. In the case Qi is broken in any point, it means that one organ has an excess of Qi while the other is in lack of it. The aim of the ancient Chinese medicine was either xie (to release excessive Qi) or bu (the supplement Qi where it is lacking). The method was chosen according to the diseases. In Yang (acute) diseases the method Yin (xie, sedation) was used, while in Yin (chronic) diseases the method Yang (bu, tonification) was preferred. Only thus the balance between Yang and Yin in the human body was restored and health of the patient recovered.