Feeling hot and very, very bothered? If you wake up sweating in the middle of the night, deal with hot flashes by day, and feel parched from your skin to your fingernails, it may be a Yin deficiency.
Yin deficiency is one of nine body constitutions in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM practitioners believe that we each have a unique combination of structural, physiological, and psychological features. This could determine how susceptible we are to certain diseases and illnesses. Those features can include everything from age and gender to diet and lifestyle habits — even the time of year. Though not all the factors that contribute to your body constitution are changeable, once you know which type you are, you’ll know how to ease your discomfort from the root.
Yin Deficiency: the Tell-Tale Signs
Do any of these physical characteristics, temperaments, and other attributes sound familiar?
Common physical characteristics of yin deficiency are:
- Hot Flashes
- Night sweating or involuntary sweating in the afternoon
- Thin physique
- Warm palms and soles
- Mouth dryness
- Nose dryness
- Dry stools or constipation
- Discomfort in hot and dry environments
- Constant coughing
Common temperaments and other non-physical attributes of yin deficiency are:
Possible Causes of Yin Deficiency
One fundamental concept in TCM is the importance of a balance between yin and yang energies. When they’re out of balance, your body will feel disharmonious. Yin in particular is responsible for cooling and moistening the body — when there’s not enough yin, those uncomfortable heat- and dryness-related symptoms can spring up.
The reasons for yin deficiency are related to prolonged stress, not enough rest, sleep deprivation, and eating spicy food. Chronic illness like diabetes could also lead to Yin deficiency.
Possible Links Between Yin Deficiency and Health Conditions
Research shows that hypertension and diabetes originate from yin deficiency. To decrease the fluctuation of your blood pressure or blood sugar levels, TCM can transform your body constitution and make the appropriate adjustments to balance your qi. People suffering from either one or both conditions may benefit from looking at their symptoms through the lens of TCM and yin deficiency.
Restoring Your Balance with Diet and Lifestyle Changes
If you are yin deficient, you may want to stay away from caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and spicy foods, as all of those further deplete yin. The most yin-nourishing foods tend to be moist, cool, and dark in color. Some foods and drinks that fit the bill in these categories:
- Grains - Wheat, barley, glutinous rice, black sesame
- Fruits - Pear (with Skin), Watermelon, grapes, apples, bananas, lemons, mulberry, red dates, tomatoes, black plum
- Vegetables & legumes - Spinach, cucumber, lotus root, bitter gourd, yams, eggplant, soybeans, goji berries, mung beans, black beans, bean sprouts
- Meats and dairy - Milk, soy, fish, eggs, cheese, tofu
- Seafood - Oyster, cuttlefish, mussels, clams
Your day-to-day lifestyle and habits can also play a big role. Here’s what can make a difference:
Find time to rest, restore, and rejuvenate.
If you’ve been burning the midnight oil, schedule some time off to relax — whether that’s with a week on vacation, a day spent in nature, or 10 minutes of stretching.
Don’t be afraid to address chronic emotional issues with a professional.
If you’re dealing with chronic stress, anxiety, anger, and resentment, they create heat and deplete the yin, so even a vacation won’t get you back in balance in the long-term.
Stick to thin fluids
If you’re used to thick smoothies and the like, take a break — thick fluids tend to stagnate because of a yin deficiency and can lead to a qi deficiency. Stick to thin fluids like water, herbal tea, clear soups and watery fruits.
Improve your bedtime routine
According to TCM, the blood has a chance to be produced and circulate while you sleep. Create a bedtime routine that helps you fall asleep and get deeper rest. Swap your phone for a guided meditation to reduce your exposure to blue light that keeps you awake, and get into bed with time to spare before your ideal bedtime.
Habits like eating while you work, chewing too fast, and not having set meal times can deplete stomach qi and eventually stomach yin. Give yourself time to eat without distractions, chew thoroughly at every meal.
Skip the late-night snacks
The most common cause of Stomach yin deficiency is eating late at night. If you often crave an end-of-day treat, look at gaps in your diet during the day — skipping meals can also deplete stomach yin.
Ease up on your exercise routine
Heat and overexertion depletes the yin, so swap the workouts that get you hot and sweaty for something more gentle, like yoga, swimming, or walking. If you are menstruating or in the first few weeks of pregnancy, this is especially important — keep your energy output under 70% of your normal capacity.
Remember, our body constitutions aren’t fixed
Reaching balance isn’t a one-and-done deal for most people. Follow your natural ebbs and flows, adjust your lifestyle and nutrition as needed, and your body will thank you.
Want to know your constitution? Take our quiz to find out!