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As the symbol represents, the universe is divided equally between the Yin and Yang. However, the division is not straight – Yin and Yang merge in a continuous cycle. The control and become each other while maintaining a precise balance. As represented by the small black circle within the white and the white circle within the black, all that is Yang contains a small amount of Yin, and all that is Yin contains a small amount of Yang. An example can be found in the transition from night today. There is no distinct transition from daylight to nighttime, but rather a slow fade to dusk. 

Yang is associated with heat, brightness, activity, and upward or outward movement. Yin, in contrast, is associated with cold, darkness, rest and downward movement. Everything is relative, however. For example, water is Yin when compared to steam, but water becomes Yang when compared to ice. 

In health, the body must be in balance on several different levels. A TCVM practitioner treats disease by returning balance between Yin and Yang. Four pathological states of Yin and Yang exist, each causing disease due to imbalance. 

  • Yang Excess (excess heat) – an invasion of excess heat overwhelms the body’s cooling abilities and causes heat signs. 
    • Treatment principles – clear heat and reduce Yang
  • Yin Excess (excess cold) – an invasion of excess cold depletes the body’s warming ability leaving the animal cold.
    • Treatment principles – clear cold and reduce Yin
  • Yang Deficiency (false cold) – a deficiency warmth (Yang) leads to cold signs.
    • Treatment principles – tonify Yang to restore balance
  • Yin Deficiency (false heat) – an inability to cool the body (Yin) leads to signs of heat.
    • Treatment principles – tonify Yin to restore balance


Emily Falk, DVM