Heat Illness: A Balance of Yin and Yang

In New York City we have already had a number of heat advisories this July.  It is important to stay cool and hydrated to avoid getting heat stroke or exhaustion.

Symptoms of chronic illness often flare up during heat waves.  This can occur due to the extra stress on the body from the weather, but also because the heat itself can lead to many illnesses.

Chinese medicine see illnesses developing from imbalances in the body as well as imbalances between the body and the environment. Heat imbalances are very common

A Balance of Heat and Cool

Heat and coolness are balanced and balance each other in the body.  Chinese scholars have described this terms of yin and yang: yin is the cooling properties while yang is the warming properties.

This symbol, the Tai Ji, represents the concept of yin (black) and yang (white).  The yang comes to an end and the yin begins.  The yin gets large, and yang recedes.  And vice versa.  In the center of the yin, we see yang, and in the center of the yang, there is yin.

Yin and Yang are Balanced 1 scaled 1
Yin and yang are balanced
Excess Yang 1 scaled 1
yang level is too high
Deficient Yin 1 scaled 1
yin level is too low

Types of Heat

There are two major types of heat, when there is excess heat itself, and when there is a lack of cooling in the body.  Either of these imbalances make the body susceptible to the an exacerbation during the hot weather.  Chinese medicine and acupuncture work by restoring the balance of heating and cooling, or the balance of Yin and Yang.

I am going to use images of water glasses to explain the types of heat.  In this image, you can see that yin and yang are at equal levels in the body.

They are balanced which is normal and healthy.  In the image below, Yin gets too low.  You can see there is relatively more yang.

This results in too much heat in the body because there is not enough cooling properties of yin.  This is the most common cause of hot flashes.  In order to treat yin deficient heat, I use acupuncture and Chinese medicine to increase the yin in the body and restore balance.

There can also be too much yang.  In the image on the lower left, you can see the levels of yang are too high, leading to too much heat which overpowers the cooling of the yin.  This is a common cause of headaches and digestive illnesses.  I treat this by using acupuncture and herbs to reduce the amount of excess yang.

Illnesses Caused by Heat

There are too many illnesses that come from heat to list. Here are some of the most common.  It is common for the hot weather to exacerbate your symptoms because they are caused by heat imbalances.

  • Headaches
  • Hot Flashes
  • Hyperhydrosis
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Burning and painful urination
  • Joint pain

The Treatment of Heat

Chinese medicine and acupuncture work by restoring the balance of yin and yang.  The treatment focuses on the specific type of heat.  For yin deficient heat, the yin properties of the body are increased.  For yang excess heat, the heat is drained from the body.

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Images: Wikipedia

Joseph Alban

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.

Joseph Alban is a Doctor of Acupuncture, New York Licensed Acupuncturist, and NCCAOM Board Certified Herbalist providing the highest quality Acupuncture and Chinese medicine care tailored to your needs.

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