43. The Principles of TCM. 9. Yin and Yang 2

43. The Principles of TCM. 9. Yin and Yang 2

Yin and yang refer to natural phenomena that contradict each other and complement each other at the same time, as revealed through ancient people’s observation of nature. For example, heaven and earth, sun and moon, day and night, summer and winter, man and woman, above and below, fire and water, life and death, etc. Without relative concepts or phenomena, the phenomenal world itself is impossible to exist. For example, what if there is only heaven and no earth? What if there are only women and no men? What if there is only life and no death? In this way, the concept of yin and yang was derived through philosophical thinking.

In Oriental medicine, the most basic diagnostic method is Palgangbyeonjeung (八綱辨證), and the concept that encompasses all of them is yin and yang. For example, if you catch a cold, the first diagnosis is to determine whether it is a cold or a hot cold.

Characteristics of a cold include feeling chilly, fever, head and whole body pain, stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, clear runny nose, and clear phlegm. They hate the cold, so they feel comfortable when you keep them warm. If you pick up a Mac, you will find a floating Mac.

A hot cold first appears with a sore and sore throat. My mouth is dry and I want to drink water. The nose may be cloudy, show yellow phlegm, sweat a lot, and be constipated. A cold cold can be seen as yin and a hot cold as yang. Once a basic diagnosis is made based on yin and yang, the prescription also changes accordingly.

In the case of a cold, it depends on whether or not you start sweating again. Typical treatments for sweating are Gyeji-tang (桂枝湯) or Galgeun-tang (葛根湯).


The standard prescription for Gyejitang is as follows. 10g of eggplant, 10g of white peony, 6g of licorice, 3 pieces of ginger, 6 jujubes. If you feel cold to the core, add 10g of cinnamon. The ginger tea we commonly take is made from ingredients that are used as food, that is, can be used immediately.

The widely known Ssanghwa-tang is a combination of Samul-tang, which tonifies yin, and Hwanggi Geonjung-tang, which tonifies yang, and is effective in cases of colds with low energy.

In this way, diagnosis and prescription are made considering whether the disease is on the skin or inside, such as the lungs or stomach, and whether the patient is healthy or has a weak constitution. All of this is a judgment and prescription of the state of yin and yang. In the case of acupuncture treatment, diagnosis and prescription are made in the same way as herbal medicine prescriptions.

Wouldn’t Oriental medicine, which believes that the movement of life is made up of the energy of yin and yang, just like in the natural world, and diagnoses and prescribes using yin and yang as a standard, be a much more human-respecting and scientific prescription than giving medicine for a cold? In China, many cold patients actually visit oriental medicine hospitals and receive prescriptions for herbal medicine or acupuncture that are suitable for them.

Dr. Jin-man Kim, director of Peace Oriental Clinic