BSc (Hons) Complementary Therapies

Semester: 1

Module Title

Chinese Medical Theory

Date Due: 28.01.03

Length: 2000- 2500 words

Module Leader: Li Ping                        SHARNA RICHARDSON.



This assignment, after giving a brief history background  of Yin-Yang theory, will explain the concept of Yin and Yang.  I will then discuss the basic theory by describing  four aspects of the relationship between Yin and Yang.  On a deeper level I will then apply Yin and Yang theory to explain the structure of the human body, the function of the zang fu organs, and the physiology and pathology of the human body.  Finally I will write a patient case study based on Yin and Yang theory and Zang- Fu organ theory.  The case study will discuss the nature of the main problem; which Zang- Fu organs are significant to the case study and what kinds of Yin and Yang imbalance are involved.

Brief Historical Background

The early thinkers of the Han dynasty in China (207B.C. – 9 A.D.) attempted to unify all the rival schools of Chinese thought and philosophy that had developed over the previous 300 years. Rather than reject alternative ways of thinking, they attempted to fuse all the rival schools of thought into a single system. This is known as the Han synthesis, and is an attempt to explain the metaphysical workings of the entire universe. It  is the origin of what is called the Yin-Yang school of Chinese thought. The essentials of the Yin-Yang school are based on the idea that the universe is run by a single principle, Tao. This principle is divided into two opposite principles, which oppose one another in their actions. Theses are called Yin and Yang. This concept is also applied to medicine.

The Concept Of Yin and Yang

The concept of Yin-Yang is probably the most important concept in  Chinese Medicine. Yin-Yang is said to be the basis of Chinese medical physiology, pathology and treatment.  The concept of Yin-Yang is very simple, yet very complex. It is extremely different to the Western way of thinking.  In general, Western thought, which has dominated in  the West for over 2000 years, has a  logic  based upon the opposition of contraries.   For example, according to this logic, contraries such as “the hand is hot” and “the hand not hot” cannot both be true.  However, Yin and Yang represent opposite but complementary qualities.  Therefore each thing or phenomenon could be itself and its contrary. In other words Yin contains the seed of Yang and vice versa, so that, contrary to Western logic, A can also be NON-A.  For example the hand can be both hot and not hot - cold.

Nature of Yin-Yang Concept

The Chinese characters for “Yin” and “Yang” are related to the dark and sunny side of a hill. The characters are:

Yin                                          Yang

        Represents a “mound” or “hill”

       Represents a “cloud”

        Represents the “sun”

        Represents the “sun over the horizon”

        Represents the “rays of light”

The Yin character indicates the shady side of a hill, whilst the Yang character indicates the sunny side of a hill.  Therefore they also indicate “darkness” and “light” or “shady” and “bright”.   Everything in the world can be described and divided further into the Yin-Yang phenomena.  The basic properties that belong to Yin and Yang are as follows:

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Yang; Light, sun, brightness, activity, heaven, round, time, east, south and left.

Yin; Darkness, moon, shade, rest, earth, flat, space, west, north and right.

The Basic Theory of Yin and Yang Describing Four Aspects of their Relationship

Yin and Yang oppose each other and at the same time have an interdependent relationship.  Without Yang there is no Yin, and without Yin there is no Yang. Yang is totally immaterial and corresponds to pure energy, whereas Yin is completely the opposite being material and corresponding to matter.  

“Yin is quiet, Yang is active. Yang gives life, ...

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