Do You Have a Yang Deficiency Body Constitution? 

Yang deficiency body TCM

 March 24, 2021

By  Juli Kramer, PhD

People with yang deficiency almost always feel cold and feel weak in windy conditions. They have cold extremities, in addition to feeling cold at their core. (It is possible to have cold extremities with qi deficiency and yin deficiency as well).

In Chinese medicine, the idea is that you have a hard time generating enough energy to heat the body. For example, with yang deficiency, you cannot heat the liver and kidney, two organs that help heat the rest of your body.

Young children with yang deficiency are prone to wetting the bed until after 10 years of age. Older people will often sleep during the day and suffer from insomnia at night, weakening their immune systems. People with yang deficiency are also prone to depression.

Yang qi is considered to be the force of all life activities. It is also essential to have a healthy immune system. When you have deficient yang qi, you are at greater risk for illness and disease. With sufficient yang qi, you will look and feel healthy and vibrant.

What causes a yang deficiency constitution?

Firstly, yang deficiency can start at conception if the parents also have a deficiency.

Much like the concept of genetics in western medicine, according to TCM, at conception your parents set your foundational energetic nature. Wang Chong, a Chinese medicine practitioner in the 1st century CE writes that:

Strength and long life, weakness and short life are connected with the copiousness and scarcity of the receive qi…When the qi is copious, the body becomes strong, and the body being strong, life lasts long. On the other hand, when the vital force is scanty, the body is weak, and with a weak body, life is short…A short life is accompanied by much sickness.

Weak kidneys also play a role in yang deficiency. Your kidneys are weakened by drinking too many cold drinks, drinking too many beverages and eating too many foods with a cold energetic nature (e.g., green tea and seafood), or being on a weight-loss diet.

Other factors include frequently taking antibiotics (which are cold in nature) and exposing your body to cold temperatures without warm clothing.

Often times, people with a yang deficiency constitution are overweight, but not always. Warming up the body and generating just the right balance of internal heat are essential to balance this deficiency.

You can feel better

Here is the good news. If you currently have a yang deficiency body constitution, you have the power be healthier. You might have a predisposition to this body constitution, but lifestyle choices continue to weaken cause an imbalance of yin and yang in your body. Changing your dietary, exercise, and emotional habits can radically shift you from yang deficiency to normal, the ideal, yin and yang balanced, healthy state.

Here are some general patterns associated with a yang deficiency body constitution. You may have overcome some of these tendencies with lifestyle choices you make. Well done! Read on to learn how to improve your health further.

Common physical symptoms of yang deficiency constitution

  • Intolerance to cold
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Preference for warm food
  • Weariness or fatigue
  • Drowsiness or insomnia
  • Overall and lumbar back pain
  • Small joint pain
  • Pale tongue
  • Teeth marks on the sides of the tongue
  • Deep, weak, and slow pulse

Common physical characteristics

  • Muscles feel soft and weak
  • Tendency to being overweight

Common emotional characteristics

People with yang deficiency constitution often

  • Are introverted
  • Prefer being quiet

Greatest points of susceptibility for yang deficiency constitution

  • Tolerance for summer but not winter
  • Susceptible to external pathogens such as wind, cold, and dampness
  • Tendency to have diarrhea after consuming cold/raw food and drinks

Greatest health risks

  • Colds
  • Stomachaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling
  • Gynecological issues such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis
  • Male sexual dysfunction
  • Dark facial spots
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Neuropathic headaches
  • Breast tumors
  • Coronary heart disease

How to off-set your yang deficiency constitution through diet

People with yang deficiency should eat foods warm in temperature and energetic nature. Eating on a fixed schedule to strengthen digestion is essential to provide the fuel your body needs. Following the Chinese medicine body clock, you should eat a large breakfast between 7:00-9:00 AM, an even larger lunch between 11:00 AM-1:00 PM, and a light dinner between 5:00-7:00 PM.

Additionally, if you have a yang deficiency constitution, you should not snack between meals. Snacking take energy away from warming the body and can lead to weight gain. Eat enough at the three meals to energize your body. 

Foods to add

People with a yang deficiency constitution should add foods that tonifying and warming foods. These foods are great choices.

black rice
Chinese chives
Chinese yam
glutinous rice

litchi fruit
longan fruit
pine nuts
star anise
yellow bean sprouts
Chives flower, Garlic chives or Chinese Chive to warm people with yang deficiency and cold constitution

Chinese chives are warming in nature for yang deficiency

Foods and beverages to avoid

If you have a yang deficiency constitution, you want to avoid items that cooling in nature, especially during fall and winter.

bitter melon
citrus fruits
cold or iced drinks
dragon fruit
frozen foods
green tea

loofa/sponge gourd
mung beans
raw foods
sugar cane

Celery is cooling in nature

People with yang deficiency should not eat celery.

How to strengthen your yang energy with lifestyle changes

Regulate your environment

With yang deficiency, your body cannot easily adjust to changing temperatures. You especially have a hard time regulating your body temperature in cold settings. Therefore, you should "avoid cold and approach warmth."

As an illustration for avoiding cold, avoid wind. Do not sit near a fan or air conditioning unit, even if you feel hot. Place yourself in the cool room but not in the path of the wind.

Also, avoid direct heat from a furnace blowing on you in the winter. Wind depletes yang and will further weaken your ability to maintain a stable body temperature.

Furthermore, if you do have to be in the cold, dress in enough layers to prevent feeling chilled. As soon as you feel a chill, add a layer. Do not delay or you risk further weakening your yang energy. Especially make sure that your feet, lower abdomen, and lower back stay warm.

As an illustration to approach warmth, in the summer, imagine you are a lizard basking in the sun. You should spend at least 15-20 minutes in the sun for at least 20 to 30 days in the summer. Ideally soak up the sun on your back, which replenishes yang energy. 

Improve your mood

If you have yang deficiency, you may often be in a bad mood. For instance, people with yang deficiency are susceptible to fear and grief, depending on which organ is affected. You may also be more likely to feel depressed. 

To combat the tendency for a bad mood, avoid situations that enhance your negative emotions. Also, talk more with other people you trust, including a therapist if needed. You can even talk to yourself. In Chinese medicine, you should speak at least 2,000 words each day. Talking to yourself, aloud, clears your lungs and your mind helping build yang energy. 

Listening to music you enjoy, that cheers your mood can also help. Dancing to the music helps even more because you get your qi and blood flowing.

Guided meditation to balance your emotions

Yang deficiency puts you at risk for being in a bad mood. Clearing blockages in your body will also allow you to release negative emotions you might be holding onto. Once the blockages clear away, you can build emotional armor to keep you healthy with a calm mind. This guided meditation will help you start your emotional healing.

How to exercise for your yang deficiency constitution

To balance out your yang deficiency, do not exercise to the point of sweating. Sweating loses qi and depletes yang energy. In the summer, you should not do intense exercises. Your goal is to build up internal heat to keep you warm in the winter. Intense exercise allows the energy to burn up, leaving you depleted when the seasons change.

Ideally, exercise between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. These are the yang hours of the day. Exercising during these hours draws on the yang energy of nature to help power your workout. Think of it like leaving money in your bank account. When you do not need to use yang energy, you have more left.

Quick qigong exercises

Moving consistently throughout your day is a better way to breathe in fresh air and calm your mind than doing a one-hour workout. Enjoy this sample of a quick, qigong exercise to pump your qi. 

Acupressure massage to strengthen your digestion

A strong digestive system will help your body produce essential qi. This abdominal massage is perfect to do after each meal to strengthen your digestive energy.

How acupressure massage and moxibustion can help

Firstly, you should add acupressure massage to your daily routine. It is a powerful tool for people struggling with yang deficiency. When you massage the acupressure points listed below, you stimulate meridian points that can help replenish your yang energy and promote your body's defenses.

Secondly, for yang deficiency is moxibustion is a therapy. This method evolved along with acupuncture millennia ago. Moxa helps open up blocked energy channels and heal the body. It can warm the meridians, invigorate the flow of qi and blood, strengthen the body’s resistance to disease, and help the body eliminate “evils” or harmful and toxic substances and energy.

When you have a yang deficiency condition, moxibustion therapy will bring your body back into balance and help expel pathogens.

Specifically, moxibustion involves using a specially prepared stick or cone made of mugwort and other herbal ingredients. The stick or cone is burned near specific meridian points to warm the organs and heal different conditions. It is primarily used to help cold conditions. Sometimes moxa is performed on people with weak constitutions to boost the immune system and prevent illness.

Acupressure points for yang deficiency

Stomach 36

Stomach 36 acupressure point

Ren 6 for acupressure massage

Ren 4 for moxibustion

Ren meridian acupressure points Ren 6 for yang deficiency

Bladder 62

Urinary bladder acupressure points Bladder 40 and 62 for headaches Bladder 62 for yang deficiency

Body Constitution Assessment

Don't know your body constitution? Take the assessment to learn how you can achieve optimal health.

Juli Kramer, PhD

Dr. Juli Kramer earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a cognate in Counseling Psychology and her M.A. in Psychology. She has a diploma in Chinese Medicine Nutritional Therapy, and certificates in Chinese medicine from Dr. Zhang Yifang, Shanghai World Hospital, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. With over 30 years of experience as an educator, Dr. Kramer founded Radiant Shenti to teach people how Chinese medicine (TCM) can help them lead healthy, happy, and long lives.

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