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Nourish yang in spring and summer, nourish yin in autumn and winter

Author: Dr. Richard Zeng (C.M.)
春夏养阳,秋冬养阴Nourish yang in spring and summer, nourish yin in autumn and winter

Nourish yang in spring and summer, nourish yin in autumn and winter

“春夏养阳,秋冬养阴” is a proverb in traditional Chinese medicine that describes the principles of health preservation throughout the four seasons. It means that in the spring and summer, one should focus on nourishing yang energy, while in the autumn and winter, the emphasis should be on nourishing yin energy.

In traditional Chinese medicine, yin and yang are relative concepts that represent the opposing and interdependent forces in the universe. Yang is associated with activity, warmth, expansion, and upward movement, while yin is associated with stillness, coldness, contraction, and downward movement.

Nourishing Yang in Spring and Summer

During the spring and summer seasons, yang energy is abundant in nature, with vibrant growth and ample sunlight. To align with the season and climate, individuals should focus on nurturing their yang energy. This can be achieved through appropriate exercise, consuming light and easily digestible foods, and getting plenty of sunlight. The goal is to adapt to the seasonal characteristics and promote the generation and circulation of yang energy in the body.

Why “Nourish Yang” in Spring and Summer?

“春夏养阳” emphasises the importance of nurturing yang energy during the spring and summer seasons. Despite the warm and hot weather during this time, the principle is based on several considerations:

Abundance of yang energy in nature

The spring and summer seasons are when yang energy is abundant in the natural world. Yang represents activity, warmth, and upward movement. During this time, the earth is teeming with life, everything is growing, and there is ample sunshine. It is easier for the human body to absorb sunlight and the yang energy present in the environment.

Adaptation to seasonal characteristics

The climate in spring and summer is warm and humid, with a relatively abundant yang energy. The human body should adapt to the changes in climate. The purpose of nourishing yang during this period is to adapt to the seasonal characteristics and promote the generation and circulation of yang energy in the body.

Preventing damage to yang energy

Despite the warm weather in spring and summer, excessive consumption of raw and cold foods, excessive fatigue, and prolonged exposure to sunlight can all damage yang energy. Therefore, nourishing yang during this time also means being mindful of avoiding factors that can harm yang energy.

Ways to nourish yang in spring and summer

Methods of nourishing yang during spring and summer may include appropriate sun exposure, engaging in suitable aerobic exercises, practicing tai chi or qigong, promoting blood circulation, and enhancing physical strength. It also involves avoiding excessively cold foods. These practices can help protect and strengthen the body’s vitality and yang energy, improve resistance, and promote balance and health.

Nourishing Yin in Autumn and Winter

During the autumn and winter seasons, yang energy declines, and yin energy becomes predominant in nature. At this time, it is important to focus on nourishing yin energy to maintain balance. This may involve prioritising rest and ensuring sufficient sleep, consuming nourishing and moistening foods, avoiding excessively hot indoor environments, and refraining from consuming spicy and drying foods. These practices help nourish and protect yin energy, adapting to the seasonal demands.

Why “Nourish Yin” in Autumn and Winter?

Although the autumn and winter seasons are characterised by cool and cold weather, traditional Chinese medicine emphasises the concept of “秋冬养阴” (nourishing yin) during this time. This principle is based on several considerations:

Abundance of yin energy in nature

The autumn and winter seasons are when yin energy relatively prevails in the natural world. “秋收冬藏” (autumn harvest and winter storage) reflects the accumulation of yin energy. Yin represents coldness, contraction, stillness, and conservation. During this time, sunlight diminishes, and the weather becomes colder. The earth enters a dormant state, and yin energy starts to accumulate.

Adaptation to seasonal characteristics

The human body should align with the seasonal changes and adapt to the cold and dry climate of the autumn and winter seasons. Yin energy is relatively abundant during this time. Nourishing yin aims to adapt to these seasonal characteristics, protecting and nourishing the yin energy within the body.

Preventing damage to yin energy

Despite the cold weather, excessive exposure to overheated or excessively dry indoor environments, excessive fatigue, and consuming spicy and drying foods can all damage yin energy. Therefore, nourishing yin during autumn and winter also means being mindful of avoiding factors that can harm yin energy.

Way to nourish Yin in autumn and winter

During autumn and winter, it is advisable to avoid excessive consumption of spicy and drying foods, particularly for individuals who already exhibit signs of yin deficiency. Instead, choose nourishing and moistening foods such as pears, radishes, black beans, black sesame seeds, walnuts, and glutinous rice. It is also important to maintain an appropriate indoor temperature, avoid excessive heat or dryness, stay hydrated, and ensure adequate rest and sleep. These practices of “秋冬养阴” can help protect and nourish yin fluids, maintain balance, and promote overall health.

阴平阳秘,精神乃治 In balance lies harmony; in moderation lies vitality

In balance lies harmony; in moderation lies vitality

The principle of “春夏养阳,秋冬养阴” is derived from observations and understanding of seasons and climate in traditional Chinese medicine. By following this principle, individuals can adjust their diet, lifestyle habits, and wellness practices to adapt to seasonal changes and promote a balance of yin and yang energies in the body. This ultimately aims to achieve a state of well-being where harmony is maintained, and vitality is preserved, as reflected in the phrase “阴平阳秘,精神乃治 ~In balance lies harmony; in moderation lies vitality.”

Pattern Diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

What is pattern diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)


TCM pattern diagnosisPattern diagnosis (辩证论证 Bian Zheng Lun Zhi )  is a fundamental concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It involves the identification and classification of patterns of disharmony within the body, which helps guide the diagnosis and treatment of various health conditions.

In TCM, the body is seen as an interconnected system where imbalances or disruptions in the flow of Qi (vital energy) and other vital substances can lead to disease. Pattern diagnosis aims to identify these imbalances and understand how they manifest in an individual’s signs and symptoms.

Key elements in pattern diagnosis

pulst takingThere are several key elements involved in pattern diagnosis:

Gathering information: The TCM practitioner collects detailed information through questioning, observation, palpation, and listening. This includes the patient’s medical history, current symptoms, and their overall constitution.

Analysis: The collected information is carefully analyzed to identify patterns of disharmony. Patterns may involve imbalances in Qi, Yin and Yang, organ systems, body substances, or the overall flow of energy.

Pattern identification: Based on the analysis, the practitioner identifies specific patterns of disharmony. These patterns are often named according to their characteristics, such as “Liver Qi Stagnation” or “Kidney Yang Deficiency.”

Treatment principles: Once the patterns are identified, treatment principles are determined. These principles guide the selection of acupuncture points, herbal medicine formulas, dietary recommendations, lifestyle modifications, and other TCM modalities to address the root causes of the disharmony and restore balance.

Pattern diagnosis in TCM is a dynamic and individualised process. It takes into account not only the symptoms but also the underlying imbalances and the unique constitution of each person. By addressing the specific patterns of disharmony, TCM aims to restore harmony and promote the body’s self-healing mechanisms. It is important to consult a qualified TCM practitioner who can provide an accurate pattern diagnosis and develop a personalised treatment plan based on individual needs.

Almond Wellness Centre

Almond Wellness Centre located in Victoria’s Coburg and Ringwood areas, is a multidisciplinary clinic devoted to fostering wellness. Our clinics place great importance on comprehensive healthcare that encompasses the whole person. We approach each individual as a unique entity, considering their lifestyle, diet, environment, emotions, and attitude.

Whether you are in search of treatment for a particular health issue or aiming to enhance your overall well-being, Almond Wellness Centre is dedicated to delivering personalised care tailored to your needs. Our goal is to assist you in achieving your health objectives and supporting your journey towards optimal wellness.

As each person is different, if you or someone you care about is experiencing health issues and would like to explore the potential benefits of Chinese medicine acupuncture, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our fully qualified registered acupuncture Chinese medicine practitioners in both Coburg clinic and Ringwood clinic are here to provide information and assistance.

Five Elements

five elements in TCM

Five Elements in TCM

The theory of Five Elements, also known as Wu Xing (五行) in Chinese medicine, is a fundamental concept that seeks to understand the dynamic interplay and relationships between various aspects of the natural world. It suggests that wood, fire, earth, metal, and water are not just physical substances, but also represent energetic qualities and principles that shape the material world.

Wood (木 Mu)

Wood represents the energy of growth, expansion, and vitality. It is associated with the season of spring, the colour green, and the direction of east. Wood is also linked to the liver and gallbladder organs in the body.

Fire (火 Huo)

Fire represents the energy of warmth, transformation, and enthusiasm. It is associated with the season of summer, the colour red, and the direction of south. Fire is linked to the heart, small intestine, pericardium, and triple burner organs.

Earth (土 Tu)

Earth represents the energy of stability, nourishment, and grounding. It is associated with the season of late summer or transition periods, the colour yellow, and the central direction. Earth is linked to the spleen and stomach organs.

Metal (金 Jin)

Metal represents the energy of clarity, precision, and contraction. It is associated with the season of autumn, the colour white, and the direction of west. Metal is linked to the lungs and large intestine organs.

Water (水 Shui)

Water represents the energy of fluidity, adaptability, and conservation. It is associated with the season of winter, the colour blue or black, and the direction of north. Water is linked to the kidneys and urinary bladder organs.

In the theory of Five Elements, these elements are not viewed as static entities, but rather as dynamic forces that interact with and influence each other. The relationships between the elements are categorised into two main cycles: the generating cycle and the restraining cycle.

Generating Cycle

Wood generates Fire, Fire generates Earth, Earth generates Metal, Metal generates Water, and Water generates Wood. This cycle describes how each element supports and nourishes the next in a continuous flow of energy.

Restraining Cycle

Wood restrains Earth, Earth restrains Water, Water restrains Fire, Fire restrains Metal, and Metal restrains Wood. This cycle illustrates how each element has the ability to control or restrain another element to maintain balance and prevent excessive energy.

The theory of Five Elements is utilised in traditional Chinese medicine for diagnosis, treatment, and understanding the interconnections between various aspects of health and well-being. It provides a framework to analyse and address imbalances in the body’s energy system and guide the use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, dietary adjustments, and lifestyle recommendations to restore harmony and promote optimal health.

Yin Yang – The Principle of Opposites Part 3

In diagnosis

“The skilled practitioner examines the countenance and feels the pulse. First dividing them into Yin and Yang, he judges the pure (Yang ) and the impure (Yin) and thus knows the diseased part of the body… He feels the pulse to ascertain whether it is floating (Yang), deep (Yin), slippery (Yang) or rough (Yin) and knows where the disease orginated. Thus, no mistake would be made both in diagnosis and in treatment.” – Su Wen (Plain Questions)

In treatment

In the treatment of disease:

  • If Yang is hot and over-abundant, thus injuring the Yin fluid (Yang excess causing a Yin disease), the surplus Yang can be decreased by a method called “cooling what is hot“;
  • If Yin is cold and over-abundant, thus injuring the Yang Qi (Yin excess causing Yang disease), the surplus Yin can be decreased by the method called “heating what is cold“.


  • If Yin fluid is deficient and so, unable to control the Yang, causes it to become violent; Or
  • If Yang Qi is deficient and unable to control Yin, causes it to become over-abundant, then the deficiency must be tonified.

The Neijing (Internal Classic) describes the method:

Thus: “In Yang diseases treat the Yin; in Yin diseases treat the Yang.”

Yin Yang – The Principle of Opposites Part1

Yin Yang – The Principle of Opposites Part2

Yin Yang – The Principle of Opposites Part1

Yin Yang is one of the most fundamental concepts in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as well as the foundation of diagnosis and treatment.

What is Yin Yang?

Yin Yang is:

  • The Tao of heaven and earth (the basic law of opposition and unity in the natural world),
  • The fundamental principle of the myriad things (all things can only obey this law and cannot transgress it),
  • The originators (literally parents) of change (change in all things is according to this law),
  • The beginning of birth and death (the birth and creating, death and destruction of all things begins with this law).
  • The storehouse of Shen Ming (the location of all that is mysterious in the natural world).
  • The treatment of disease must be sought for in this basic law (man is one of the living things of nature, so the curing of disease must be sought for in this basic law).

~ Shu Wen (Plain Question)

For life as we know it to be possible with all its richness and variety, its infinite potentialities for good and ill, this world had to be split in two. The Unity had to become a duality; and from this duality arose the idea of the complementary opposites, the negative and the positive, which the Chinese called the Yin and Yang. These two principles are at the very root of the Chinese way of life; they pervade all their art, literature and philosophy and are therefore also embodied in their theories of traditional medicine.

These principles are of course, up to a point, accepted in the West. Every phenomenon can be divided into its two contrary components. Male and female, hard and soft, good and bad, positive and negative electrical charges, laevorotary and dextrorotary chemical compounds – all these are “opposites “. It is indeed a fact that nothing can happen in the physical world unaccompanied by positive or negative electrical charges.

The perpetual interplay of the Yin and the Yang is the very keystone of thinking. It is the law operating throughout all existence that the states of Yin and Yang must succeed one another, so that, in a Yin condition, the corresponding Yang state can be precisely foretold. The practical application of this law to acupuncture can be illustrated thus:

Yang Yin

In the natural world

day  – night

clear day – cloudy day

east/south – west/north

spring/summer – autumn/winter

upper – lower

exterior – interior

hot – cold

fire – water

light – dark

sun – moon

In the body surfaces of the body interior of the body

spine/back  – chest/abdomen

male  – female

energy (Qi)  – blood

In disease acute/virulet – chronic/non-active

powerful/flourishing – weak/dacaying

hot feeling – cold feeling

dry – moist

advancing – retiring

hasty – lingering


Gall bladder – Liver

small intestine – Heart

Stomach – Spleen (pancreas)

large intestine – Lung

bladder – Kidney

triple warmer – pericardium


The qualities of Yin and Yang are relative, not absolute.

For example, the surface of the body is Yang, the interior is Yin. But this relation also remains constant within the body, for the surface of every internal organ is always Yang and its interior always Yin, down to the individual cells that compose it.

Similarly, gas is Yang, solid Yin; but among the gases the more rarefied are Yang, the denser are Yin. Life and death belong to Yang, growth and storage to Yin, so that

“if only Yang exists, there will be no birth; in only Yin exists, there will be no growth.”

The life of every organism depends upon the correct balance of its various components.

Yin Yang – The Principle of Opposites Part2

Yin Yang – The Principle of Opposites Part3