To understand the very basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine is to return to one of the most important naturalist thoughts produced by ancient Daoist thinkers - the Yin and Yang Theory.
Yin and Yang is used to explain relationships, patterns, and change in everything within and around us. The earliest Chinese characters for Yin and Yang were found on skeletal remains of animals dating from as early as 14th century B.C. It wasn't until the 3rd century B.C. that the Yin and Yang meaning became more well known through the philosophical study of cosmologist Zou Yan, who believed that all of life moved through the Five Phases (Wu Xing) - fire, earth, metal, wood, earth - elements that are continuously interchange according to the principles of Yin and Yang.
The two parts of Yin and Yang are seen as equal and opposite elements that complement each other and, as the yin yang symbol shows us, each side has an element of the other (represented by the small dots). Neither part is superior to the other and if there is an increase in one, there will be a decrease in the other. To achieve harmony is to maintain a correct balance between the two parts - to balance both yin and yang.
What is the Yin Yang symbol?
If you look closely at the Yin and Yang symbol, you will notice
The Yin and Yang are equal and opposite parts that complement each other and each contains a part of the other. Neither Yin nor Yang is more superior than the other and if there is an increase in one, there will be a decrease in the other (they have to fit in the circle!) They will always coexist and be in dynamic (curve) relationship with one another.
*Fun fact: Dr. Sun's childhood nickname is Yang Yang - but don't ever tell him I told you so! :-)
Here is how to assess your body your body as either more Yin or more Yang.
More Yin: If you are more Yin, your signs of depletion are expressed in being overly sensitive to outer conditions, showing weakness and easily tired. You may lack motivation and perseverance, which require to find more rest and quiet. You may prefer small frequent meals. You often feel Cold, not very thirsty, enjoys spicy and hot food, slow and passive in behavior. you can have oily/acne prone skin, clammy hair, sticky perspiration
More Yang: you sometimes feel uneasy fullness or pressure in the head chest, or abdomen, more than often are constipated, can never feel very satiated / satisfied with food. You often feel Hot: overly thirsty, provocative and impulsive in behavior. Your body exhibits Dryness: dry skin hair and mouth, enjoys tart juicy and oily foods
My earliest memories of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) began in the living room of my childhood home, where my dad, Dr. Sun, held his first Acupuncture space. At a young age, I saw the myriad of herbs he would pull together for his patients. Our basement was an apothecary, our kitchen filled with my pieces from my Operator set, and the living room served patients. After immigrating to New York City from Shanghai in the 1970s, my parents, like many other immigrants of New York, left everything they ever knew, to build a brand new life from scratch.
As a first generation American-born-Chinese kid growing up in NYC, it was hard to understand why my parents didn't pack me Capri-suns and Fig Newtons in my lunchbox. Instead of letting me wear short-shorts and slurp Ralph's Italian ices all Summer long, I was taught to always drinking warm water no matter what, make sure my feet were never freezing cold, and to listen to my body and treat it well.
While having practiced Chinese Medicine for a lifetime with my dad, it wasn't until a few years ago that I truly started to feel like I wanted to step into this world and be a champion of this beautiful, complex, and deeply connected world of ancient healing and wisdom. My friends and family were all beginning to seek holistic and alternative forms of health, and they would come to me and I would send them to my dad.
My turning point came when I saw the wellness industry seem to explode with all sorts of Qi Balancing, Yin Boosting, He Shou Wu touting products for this-that-and the other. Appalled by the lack of direction consumers face today in navigating "what wellness products should I take and why", I felt the need to step up and bring clear and medically supported guidance in navigating the natural way to being well.
I am making a step towards building a lineage of Traditional Healers and continuing the legacy that my dad, Dr. Sun, has created. This is inspired by a life long learning of my own culture and heritage that came thousands of years before me. And together we will learn, appreciate, and share the wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Welcome to a world of inspiration: here to teach you how to listen to your body, feed it what it needs, and give you the tools to understand how to rebalance the yin to your yang with everyday foods.
Modern Chinese Wellness, from my family to yours.
- Jennifer Sun