Preserving Our Yin to Ease the Way

by Dr. Katie Borchert, Naturopath

There is a widely accepted worldview that as we age in years, the body deteriorates. However, I know it is possible for everybody to be comfortable in their body, no matter their age. I have worked with inspiring elders who are the epitome of health and vitality.

Then what is the difference between them and elders with chronic health issues? One such root cause is a pattern in Oriental and energetic medicine called yin deficiency. Due to our diets and lifestyles, we tend to burn up yin faster than it can be replenished. 

Yin and its counterpart yang make up everything around and within us. Yin as it pertains to the body are the dense, solid, lower and cooler structures. Fluids like blood, lymph and saliva are yin in nature. Structures include bone, kidneys, liver, spleen, uterus and ovaries. Because of the dense nature it can be inherently more work to move fluids and replenish structures. 

A woman experiences yin deficiency symptoms when menses are nearing the end. These are classic signs and symptoms like hot flushes, night sweats, dry skin, thin body frame, thin bones, weak and sore low back and knees. Therapies too hot or aggressive could greatly exacerbate these symptoms. 

A more gentle approach is the use of herbs that support yin. These herbs are energetically sweet or bitter and neutral-to-cool in temperature. This list includes lily bulb, goji berry, black sesame seed, privet fruit, American ginseng, asparagus tuber. They can be prepared as tea or used as food. Other foods to make meal staples: pears, honey, lemons, pomegranate, mangos, yams, string beans, peas and watermelon.  

The lifestyle side of yin is taking the time to really rest. Ensure good sleep hygiene, feel rested upon waking. Take appropriate rest days after workouts and house projects. Do not take on extra activities if you don’t have ample rest time. 

Find balance in your living style to keep the body and spirit fluid, strong and more resilient to the changing environment. This will encourage more youthfulness, playfulness and ease of doing all of your activities.