Short summary: yin/yang, qi and 5 phases / Elements

An explanation of the basic terms of Chinese medicine

Yin and Yang

Yin stands for “substance and the juice of life”, our material basis.

This is shown in the ability to relax, restful sleep, good nerves, serenity, patience and calm. The effect is directed downwards. Further assignments are: the night, autumn and winter, cold, passivity and our blood. Yin is assigned to the storage organs. These are the lungs, kidneys, liver, heart, pericardium and spleen.

Yang stands for “energy and vitality”, dynamism and movement.

Yang is involved in all active processes in our organism. The effect is directed upwards. Further assignments are: the day, spring and summer, light, warmth, activity and our life energy Qi. Yang is assigned to the hollow organs. These are the Large Intestine, Bladder, Gall bladder, Small Intestine, Triple Heater (regulates temperature and energy movement) and Stomach.

We are healthy and our self-healing powers are active when Yin and Yang are in a balanced relationship to one another. Illness is always an imbalance between in Yin and Yang.

Qi – a definition

Qi is the energy, our life force, it flows through and invigorates all physical, emotional and spiritual processes in the body. It is assigned to the Yang. Blood (in Chinese: Xue) is the material basis for Qi and is assigned to the Yin.

In TCM a distinction is made between prenatal and postnatal Qi. The prenatal or innate qi is inherited from parents and ancestors. This is stored in the kidneys and is our essence.

The postnatal Qi is obtained from food and the air we breathe, which is why nutrition and exercise are so important. The Qi flows in the so-called meridians, but also circulates freely in the body – such as the Wei Qi, our defense energy. The Qi expands during the day and is active (Yang), at night it retreats inside to regenerate (Yin).

Qi can be abundant or deficient, stagnated, blocked or knotted. Abundance manifests itself in yang or heat symptoms such as inflammation, rather sharp pain, high fever and acute events, deficiency, on the other hand, are mostly yin or cold symptoms such as chills, numbness, edema, chronic and rather dull pain.

The five phases of change – The 5 Elements

The doctrine of the five phases of change or the five Elements describes the relationships and principles according to which dynamic processes (changes) take place. The five elements in TCM are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each of these phases of change is assigned different qualities / characteristics:

WOOD: the rising Yang, Liver and Gallbladder, anger (also suppressed anger) and creativity, spring, birth and growth, morning, the color green, the taste sour,

FIRE: Yang, Heart and Small Intestine, the joy, training and development, the summer, the blossom, the noon, the color red, the taste bitter

EARTH: Yin and Yang in balance, Spleen / Pancreas and Stomach, worry and brooding, maturity and transition, the late summer or the middle, the afternoon, the color yellow, the taste sweet

METAL: the small Yin, Lungs and Large Intestine, the sadness, the parting and structure, the autumn, the harvest, the retreat, the color white, the evening, the taste sharp,

WATER: Yin, kKdney and Bladder, fear and anxiety, inner contemplation, winter, the color black or dark blue, the night, the taste salty

All Elements are connected and interact with one another.