The give-and-take of yin and yang in the human body is a concept foreign to Western experience, but is a cornerstone of Oriental acupuncture thought. Fortunately, understanding yin and yang is not essential to benefit from acupuncture treatment, but getting comfortable with the concept can be very enlightening.

In Chinese philosophy and culture every entity in the universe carries both negative and positive influences. The negative influence is called yin, the positive influence yang. Yin dark, yang light; yin cold, yang warm; yin passive, yang active; yin night, yang day, etc. The shady (yin) side of a hill balanced by the sunny (yang) side is a classic example. Yin and yang are indivisible, never static, always fluctuating. They are the opposing balancing influences of every entity, and with yet another interesting factor: there is always a little yin in yang and a little yang in yin.

This concept flows into Chinese medicine where the symbol for yin and yang helps us visualize the balancing act that goes on constantly in every entity of the human body, from the organs and bodily systems to the smallest cell, as well as the vital force itself.

If one is to enjoy good health, Chinese medicine teaches that a harmonious balance between yin and yang influences must already exist in organs and meridians, or it must be attained. The attainment of such harmony is the goal of acupuncture treatment.


Dark represents yin, white represents yang. The curved line separating the two speaks of their fluctuating interplay, an ever-changing influence on each other. The small dark and white dots tell us there is some yin in yang and some yang in yin.