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  • Writer's pictureJackie Koenig, L.Ac.

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

Let's explore how to build yin with food and nourishing activities!

a landscape of dry, scorched earth with deep cracks with a mountain in the background

What IS a yin deficiency anyway?

You may experience symptoms like:

  • Insomnia

  • Dry skin, dry hair, dry eyes, dry mouth, dry throat

  • Body temperature feels hot, especially at night

  • Night sweats, or sweaty palms and feet

  • A deep ache felt down to the bones

  • Dry stool or often tends towards constipation

  • Vivid dreaming, sometimes disturbing dreams

  • Palpitations, anxiety, a general feeling of restlessness

  • Consistently in "fight or flight" mode or "always busy"

  • A feeling of being ungrounded emotionally- easily ruffled, easily upset

Often this pattern is seen in those who have "burned the candle at both ends" through overwork, overexercising, parenting young children born close together, or after years of night shift work. Yin deficiencies are also common among peri-menopausal or post-menopausal women, people with thyroid imbalances, and those who have a history of smoking, alcohol, or substance abuse.

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 the yin deficiency and help you feel better!


How can I improve a yin deficiency?

  • Eat more yin building foods (see below!)

  • Deep rest is necessary- this includes improving sleep and time spent "doing nothing"

  • Cut back on the t0-do list and scheduling midday breaks

  • Improve emotional grounding through meditation, therapy, exercising (ideally outside)

  • Avoid drying and stimulating foods such as coffee, alcohol, sugar, and spicy food

What foods can help build yin?

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

In general, foods that have a high water content and are mineral and vitamin rich help build yin, like:

  • Eggs, especially egg yolk

  • Oily seeds and nuts like sesame seed, black sesame seed, walnut

  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams

  • Avocado

  • Pear

  • Coconut milk

  • All fish, but especially clam, crab, oyster, octopus, sardines

  • Nutrient dense meats, like beef, duck, goose, pork, pork kidney, rabbit

  • Dairy like cheese and milk (in moderation)

  • Beans, especially adzuki, black beans, kidney bean, lima bean, mung bean

  • Tofu

Additional vegetables: Alfalfa sprout, artichoke, asparagus, mung bean sprout, pea, string bean, tomato, water chestnut, zucchini

Additional fruit: Apple, apricot, banana, lemon, lime, mango, mulberry, persimmon, pineapple, pomegranate, watermelon

Grains: Barley, millet


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

  • Acupuncture can support yin building by helping to calm the nervous system and improving sleep.

  • Make sure you're properly rehydrating by adding electrolytes to your water 1x a day. We've found this electrolyte powder by HRDWRK to be really helpful (no sugar, no additives, it's great)!

  • A daily cup of Sleepmix Tea. This formula made of Western herbs such as Chamomile, Hops, and Catnip was developed to help clear heat and improve sleep. Ask for a few sample bags during your appointment at Hidden Root Acupuncture!

  • Many Chinese herbal formulas are excellent at building yin, including Lui Wei Di Huang Wan and Tian Wan Bu Xin Dang. Make an appointment with a licensed Chinese Herbalist in order to find out which formula might work best for you!

  • Spend time in water- this can include regular baths or foot baths. Adding epsom salts are a bonus.

  • Ask for foot rubs! A foot massage helps bring the excessive fire down towards the more yin part of the body. Kidney 1 is a special point that is good for grounding and nourishing yin.

drawing of kidney 1 acupuncture point with a description of what the acupoint does

When can I expect to feel better?

Building yin 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 time to rest 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 yin building journey!




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