Yin and Yang Deficiency, Part III

By Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc
May 29, 2009

Yin and Yang Deficiency, Part III

By Barbra Esher, AOBTA CI. Dipl. ABT & Ac. (NCCAOM), LAc
May 29, 2009

In the last two issues of Massage Today, I presented the general characteristics of yang and yin deficiency. As previously discussed, yin deficiency has heat symptoms, but milder than with a full-heat condition. You can fine-tune your assessment by determining which primary meridians are involved. This month's article, I'll try to answer the question you all have been e-mailing me about and patiently waiting for a response to: What can you do about yin deficiency? (Thank you, I appreciate hearing from you all!)


Generally speaking, you shouldn't use moxa with any yin deficiency, because of course, you don't add heat to heat. With deficiencies, use soothing, tonifying pressure that draws the yin to that meridian. A general yin treatment protocol is to hold your mother hand on Sp 6 and palm press up the three yin meridians on the legs until you reach Ren 4. Hold those two points together for a few minutes, breathing deeply and encouraging your client to breathe into the points. Then keep your mother (support) hand on Ren 4 as you palm press up the three yin meridians of the legs. Work slowly and deliberately, with the intention of drawing yin up from the earth and gathering it into the hara/belly/dantian area. Repeat on the other leg. Combine this treatment with the following more specific treatments.

In most cases, you can hold the yuan points with the shu points of the particular meridian that seems to be most affected. For example, to treat Kidney yin deficiency, have the patient lie face down and prop up his or her feet with a bolster. Hold Ki 6 and Ki 3, keeping your mother hand there as you gently thumb press into the Kidney meridian, going up the leg, stopping at Ki 9, Ki 10, ending at the Kidney shu points, Bl 23s, holding them bilaterally with your thumb and index finger. Hold this combination for a few minutes. Then keep your support hand on the lower back as you bring the other hand up, slowly thumb pressing the Kidney meridian to meet the hand holding the shus. "Kenbiki" (gently rock) the lower back, then hold your palms over the Kidney area with a vibrating motion. Repeat with the other leg.

For Heart yin deficiency, have the patient lie face down with his or her hands to the sides. Rub the center of the palms vigorously, then hold Ht 7 and Ht 6 together with one of your thumbs while you thumb press up the Heart meridian to the Pericardium and Heart shu points with your other hand. Hold both sets of shus bilaterally with your thumb and index fingers, then follow the hand holding the wrist points up to meet at the shu points. Hold the Heart and Pericardium shus together with both of your hands. Repeat with the other arm.

For Liver yang rising caused to Liver yin/Kidney yin deficiency, you want to subdue Liver yang and tonify Liver and/or Kidney yin. With the patient face-up, hold GB 2 bilaterally and press out to the temples to Taiyang. Still working bilaterally, press around the ears, especially GB 6, GB 8 and GB 9. Work on the neck and occiput, holding both GB 20s, pulling slightly toward you. Move to the patient's side, keeping one support hand on GB 20 and thumb pressing down the top of the shoulders, down the Triple Heater meridian on the arm until you reach TH 5. Hold GB 20 with TH 5. Repeat with the other arm. Do the general yin deficiency protocol on the legs. Have the person lie face down. Thumb down his or her shu points, then do the Kidney yin deficiency protocol. Press GB 38s bilaterally, then GB 41s and 43s, with the intention of grounding the yang to the feet. End by holding Ki 1s and Lv 3s together with your thumb and index fingers bilaterally.

With Lung yin deficiency, position the patient face-up. Hold Ren 12 with Ren 17 for a few minutes, then Ren 17 with Lu 1. Keep one hand at Lu 1 for support as you gently thumb press the Lung meridian, ending and holding Lu 9 with Lu 1 for a few minutes as you encourage slow, deep breathing. Rub Lu 10 vigorously with both of your thumbs to disperse the empty heat. Hold Lu 9 at the wrist as you thumb, press down the Lung meridian from Lung 1. Use Ren 17 and Ren 12 to slowly transition to the other side and repeat with the other arm. Make sure to hold the Lung shu points when you work on the back.

Treat Stomach yin deficiency after finishing the general yin deficiency treatment. Hold Ren 12 with one hand as you press from St 21 down the Stomach meridian to St 36. Hold these two points together. Continuing holding ST 36 with your mother hand as you thumb press with your hand from Ren 12, meeting at ST 36 and rubbing the point gently with your knuckles. Continue holding St 36 with one thumb as you press down the Stomach meridian with your forearm. Repeat with the other leg. End by holding Sp6s, St 41s then Sp3s bilaterally.

Of course, you will have to try to track down the behavior that caused the problem in the first place, like improving eating habits for Stomach yin deficiency. For any yin deficiency, suggest to the client that he or she may want to spend more time at home or make the home environment more relaxing and yin.

According to Hope Karan Gerecht, author of my favorite Feng Shui book, Healing Design:

"To increase Yin, spend more introspective, relaxing, solitary time. Pursue the spiritual, emotional, and intuitive inner sides of life. Work with ideas and imagination. Yin represents one's innate capacity. Cultivate the inner nature by focusing on feelings of receptivity, humility, flexibility, and development of inner essence. Relationships fall under the yin aspect of life. Use cool colors: blue-greens, blues and purples, muted, diffuse colors as well as dark shades of all colors, dimmed lighting, cooler temperatures, heavenly representations in artwork and photography, artwork depicting valleys, curved lines in designs, either in the built environment, furnishings, or patterns in fabric and artwork."

Alex Tiberi suggests buying a pet to help tonify yin. A dog needs you to nourish and take care of it, more so than fish or other types of pets. There is nothing like the feeling of the unconditional love from a pet when you arrive home. Plus, you get the added benefit of gentle yin-tonifying exercise, by having to take it out for a walk regularly! This is particularly true of older people who don't exercise regularly or have the opportunity to care for anyone anymore.

Since people who are yin deficient are already depleted, they need to avoid stimulants that will cause them to use more energy than they have, such as alcohol, coffee and sugar. Pungent spices also should be avoided, as they will create more heat.

Daverick Leggitt writes in Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics:

"Yin tonifying foods combine deep subtle nourishment with moistening and often cooling qualities. Yin tonics travel deeply into the body replenishing our core and soothing our overworked system."

Foods that especially tonify yin are: apples, asparagus, cheese and milk (in moderation), chicken and duck eggs, clams and oysters, crab, cuttlefish, duck, honey (in moderation), kidney beans, lemon, malt, mango, peas, pears, pineapple, pomegranate, pork, rabbit, string beans, tofu, tomato, watermelon and yams. Another excellent reference is Leggitt's book, Recipes for Self-Healing.

Chinese herbs are also beneficial, used in conjunction with Asian bodywork therapy for supporting yin.

With such a focus in our culture on the value of yang -- doing rather than being, and going rather than relaxing -- you may find several of your clients suffer from some sort of yin deficiency, to put it mildly. Even if you forget all of the differentiation and treatments mentioned in this article, and just give your clients the space to receive, feel nurtured and renewed, you will be starting to address and treat their yin deficiency! One of the most enduring and valuable yin-supporting "techniques" is to be present and peaceful.


  • Flaws, Bob and Finney, Daniel, A Handbook of TCM Patterns & Their Treatments, Blue Poppy Press, © 1996, Boulder, CO.
  • Gerecht, Hope Karan, Healing Design: Practical Feng Shui for Healthy and Gracious Living, © 1999, Journey Editions, Boston, MA.
  • Leggitt, Daverick, Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics, Meridian Press, © 1994, Devon, England.
  • Maciocia, Giovanni, Foundations of Chinese Medicine, Churchill Livingston, © 1989, Edinburgh, UK.
  • Xinnong, Chen, Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Foreign Language Press, ©1987, Beijing, China.