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A core concept of holistic medicine in general is the idea of how health is dependent on balance within the living system. According to the ancient Chinese, life and health are all about balance and flow. They sustained the flow of life energy (Qi) in the body mostly with acupuncture, massage, and tai chi. At the same time, they balanced the forces of Yin and Yang mostly with herbs and foods. Let’s take a closer look at the equilibrium of Yin and Yang and what this really means for the individual.

Early on in Chinese culture, the people became aware of two dynamic, complementary energies that make up the universe. One force is the hot, dry, active, male energy called Yang. The other is the cool, moist, passive, female energy called Yin. It is the harmonious interaction of these two, forces that is responsible for the existence of the cosmos as we know it. For example, negatively charged electrons interact with positive nuclei to form atoms which are the building blocks of the material world. The Yang light of day allows for activity and then transforms into the dark Yin of night which facilitates recuperative rest. During the cold Yin of winter all of nature retreats. But then the hot Yang of summer wakes up the productive activity of the plants and animals. The primordial flow of Yin and Yang makes it all happen.

The balanced interaction of Yin and Yang is also important in life and health. Male and female unite to create the next generation. Every beat of the heart involves Yang contraction and Yin relaxation of cardiac muscle. Breathing requires active, Yang inhalation and relaxing, Yin exhalation. Even the strongest heart and lungs are of no use without the interplay of these energies. When we eat, the stomach produces Yang acid to digest the food. Once the food moves on, the stomach becomes Yin, cool, relaxed. If this process does not precede smoothly a person, or pet, ends up with heartburn.

The hot and cold aspects of Yin and Yang, and their balance, are noteworthy. No doubt we all know people whose Yin and Yang are out of kilter. I’m talking about the person who is always hot and spends their whole day sweating and fanning themselves. They usually end up in the same building as the person who is perpetually cold, and the two fight over the thermostat. Our pets experience similar imbalances. Think of the animals you have known; some hug the heat register in the winter while others just have to lie on the cool, tile floor.

These temperature preferences can be a sign of an internal disharmony. A subtle symptom such as excessive heat may not affect an animal’s quality of life. Most likely a veterinary exam and diagnostic tests would reveal that the animal is free of all disease. Yet, such a condition can lead to more serious problems down the road. It is much easier to correct a problem in its early stages than to wait until a disease is obvious. Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) therapy can be a proactive health intervention.

Is your pet hot or cold?

2 replies
    • Dr. Doug
      Dr. Doug says:

      TCVM involves a different way of looking at the body, whether healthy or diseased. Treatments include acupuncture, herbs, Tui Na (massage), and food therapy (which I’ll be talking about in future posts.


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