Clearing Heat to Restore Vital Yang Energy
Clearing Heat to Restore Vital Yang Energy
For many people drawn to herbs and other tonics to support their perceived diminishing Yang energy, the Yang herbs and tonics are what they are drawn to, and for good reason. These tonics have a lot of sex appeal, they are marketed profusely, and they seem to embody everything that we want for ourselves (and think that we are lacking). The problem is that, for many, these powerful Yang tonics are the last thing our bodies need, and can even contribute to a worsening of our symptoms.
Yang Excess in the Micro and Macrocosms
We live in a very Yang society. For the majority of us, we live very Yang lives and we cherish very Yang ideals and ideas. In this pursuit, eventually, we will experience an overindulgence of Yang energy, creating what is known as Yang Excess, accompanied by a Yin decency. This excess will present itself to us as a lessening of the Yang characteristics, which will draw our attention to herbs that are Yang tonics--those that build Yang energy. The problem is that despite our diminished energy, we actually have too much Yang energy, and what we are lacking is the Yin energy which is needed to balance and potentate the Yang side. By adding more Yang energy into our systems through the use of tonics, we further exacerbate our condition, bringing about a worsening of our symptoms and complaints. What is truly needed is a way to help clear and vent that pent up Yang energy, a way to build and restore Yin, and finally a method for tonifying our Qi.
To do this we need to step away from the Yang tonics, and start to see how unbalanced life is when we focus on Yang and neglect Yin. This should happen on an energetic level, a diet level, for many they need to change the way they exercise, and lastly we need to focus on incorporating herbs which nourish our Yin and clear out stagnate Yang energy.
Understanding and Restoring our Yin Energy
In our lifestyles it is important to focus on building our nurturing sides. Remember that the goal of progress is to be able to share our bounty. In the Chinese Five Elements, we have the growth of spring giving way to the heat of summer, with the goal of moving into the season of Late Summer or Harvest, where we share the bounty of spring and summer with our family, our friends, and our community. If we focus on growth we become Yang excess and Yin deficient. Growth needs to service the Yin purpose of nurturing, and with nurturing becoming the goal of growth, growth becomes healthy and sustainable. Conversely, if we grow for growths sake, without the phases of sharing, rest, and recuperation, we become unbalanced and burn out: personally and socially. In our own lives, as well as in government, industry and environmentally--global warming in a Yang Excess condition, as are stock market bubbles and crashes.
On a dietary level, it is important to reduce foods that cause an excess of heat or Yang, like red meat, and to incorporate more foods that clear heat, like green leafy vegetables.
For exercise we need to build our vital energy instead of spending our vital energy. Our vital energy is a bank account of sorts, we need to bring in more than we are spending, or eventually we will become bankrupt. Movement exercises like Qi Gong and T'ai Chi are especially important, as are reducing the amount of exercises which cause exhaustion to the body. There are two kinds of stress in this life, distress and eustress. Distress is harmful to the body, while eustress is healthy to the body. Create more eustress through exercises that build on an energy level.
Lastly, after we have put focus and attention into our lifestyles, our diet, and our exercise, we can begin to add select herbs into our daily routines which will help to clear out stagnant Yang energy while building the vastly important (but many times misunderstood) Yin energy.
My top tonic herbs for cooling while tonifying Yin, are:
- Codonopsis pilosula;
- American Ginseng (Panax Quinquefolius);
- Saint John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum);
- Xu Duan, known in America as Teasel Root (Dipsacus fullonum).
Additionally, my top herbs for clearing stagnant heat out of the Liver are :
- Common Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale);
- St. John's Wort (Hypericum Perforatum);
- Unprepared rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa).
For many people living in today's fast paced society, our heath, happiness, and vitality depend on our ability to nourish our Yin energy. Here is a sample protocol for people who feel burnt out and tired due to the heavy demands placed on them through modern society. Of course this will not be the right protocol for everyone, but it is a great starting point.
Diet: Eat a balanced diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Limit or completely eliminate red meat. For people that eat meat, pork can help drive and delivered nutrients deep into the kidneys, where our Jing--our vital essence and energy--is stored. Small black and darkly colored foods also build our Jing, include black sesame seeds, burdock and nettle seed, blueberries, and chia seeds into your diet. Use these on a regular basis. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits daily and limit or eliminate red meat. Supplement with at least one of the Jing building foods mentioned every single day.
Exercise: It is important to move on a daily basis, but do not overexert yourself. We are fooled into a "more is better" mentality in every area of our lives, which has caused many of the complaints and symptoms we are now seeking refuge from. The practice of Qi Gong or T'ai Chi will help restore vital energy. Walking for 20 - 30 minutes a day will do wonders for everyone's health, while allowing a much needed time for reflection and introspection. Practice either T'ai Chi or Qi Gong once weekly (or more if time permits) and walk daily.
Herbs and Tonics: Above I mentioned some of my favorite herbs to clear and cool heat, building Yin energy and allowing Yang energy to flourish. However, like everything in life, we must learn that more is not necessarily better. Use a few herbs on a daily basis over a several week period. There is no need to use all of the herbs mentioned above. A sample protocol of these herbs would be the daily use of American Ginseng, along with Saint John's Wort and Dandelion. Use these three herbs on a daily basis, combined with the other elements in this protocol for four weeks, and evaluate your protocol and progress.
It is important to remember that we
have the power to heal alre
ady within us, we are born with that power and we possess it today. Many of our complaints are not a lack of energy, but the inability to allow that energy to flow and to transform. Allow your own personal Yang energy to complete its cycle to the more nurturing phases. Encourage this flow both spiritually, but also through the concepts and the sample protocol above.