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  • Writer's pictureJackie Koenig, L.Ac.

So Your Acupuncturist Says You Have a Yang Deficiency....

Let's explore how to build yang back up with food and activity!

a full moon moving across the sky getting increasingly red

What IS a yang deficiency anyway?

Think of Yang as a pilot light or spark that must exist in order to ignite our vitality. Without it, we may have no energy or motivation to get out of bed, complete daily tasks, and enjoy life.


If you are deficient in yang, you may experience symptoms like:

  • Low energy

  • Low appetite

  • Pale face

  • Weak voice or a voice that requires effort as the day goes on

  • Cold limbs, cold hands and feet

  • Loose, watery stool and frequent, pale urine

  • Low libido

  • Inability to exercise or complete usual tasks because energy is lacking

  • Feelings of fear, withdrawal, depression, finding it hard to leave bed or the house

  • Unmotivated, inability to "stand on one's own feet" or "meet the day"

Often this pattern is seen in those who are of older age, people who eat a lot of cold temperature food and drink (meals right out of the fridge, frozen fruit smoothies, iced drinks, excessive intake of raw/uncooked vegetables), and those who spend time in cold climates.

Other risk factors include people with a history of heavy stimulant or caffeine use- overtime, the body starts to rely on this "fire" from an outside source instead of generating it internally.

An overprotected childhood, being in a relationship with a controlling partner, or a very regimented and rule-heavy job could also dim the "vitality" seen in a yang deficiency.


A hormone panel, sleep study, or other bloodwork might show perfectly normal numbers that wouldn't concern your Western doctor. This doesn't mean we can't improve a yang deficiency and help you feel better!


How can I improve a yang deficiency?

  • Eat more yang building foods (see below!)

  • Avoid cold, uncooked foods such as raw salads, juices, smoothies, and excessive fruit intake

  • Keeping the body warm is necessary- especially your waist, belly, low back, and feet

  • Making it a habit to challenge oneself and get adrenalin pumping. Try exercise!

  • Fear smothers Yang. It's important to get out of one's comfort zone and finds ways to feed creativity like trying a new sport, socializing with new people, or processing fears in therapy.

What foods can help build yang?

Dietary changes are a great place to start alleviating these symptoms.

In general, foods that are warm and stimulating to the palate help spark metabolism and build yang, such as:

  • Leeks, mustard greens, onion, radish, scallion, squash, sweet potato

  • Cooking Herbs: basil, black pepper, caper, cayenne, cinnamon, clove, dill seed, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary, sage, star anise, turmeric, and thyme

  • Nutrient dense meats such as lamb, venison, beef or lamp kidneys, chicken

  • Fish including salmon, anchovy, lobster, mussel, shrimp, trout

  • Nuts and seeds like chestnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts

  • Dried fruit like cherry, peach, raspberry, strawberry

  • Quinoa, black beans, oats, sweet glutinous rice

  • Chai tea, jasmine tea

Note: Roasting vegetables and slow cooking meat is a wonderful way to literally add fire/yang to one's diet. (Bonus points if you also use rosemary, garlic, and other heating spices included in the list above!)


What other supplements and recommendations can help improve a yang deficiency?

  • Acupuncture can support yang building by helping to increase appetite, move some stagnant energy, and improve blood circulation. Moxa, which is a pressed stick of herbal Chinese mugwort, is often used to help promote heat and increase internal warmth.

  • Visiting a sauna regularly can also help build yang. If you're in New Orleans, The Spyre Center has a wonderful infrared sauna and is less than a mile away from our clinic!

  • Many Chinese herbal formulas are excellent at building yang, including Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan, You Gui Wan, and Zhen Bao Fang. Make an appointment with a licensed Chinese Herbalist in order to find out which formula might work best for you!

When can I expect to feel better?

Building yang takes time and it may take several weeks to feel a drastic difference. It is important to be consistent with your dietary changes and to add more activity and movement in your daily routine. Results may come faster when paired with herbal formulas and acupuncture.


If you're in the New Orleans area, book a treatment at Hidden Root Acupuncture for more personalized recommendations from your acupuncturist along your yang building journey!




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