Headaches Part 6: Yin Deficiency

B. Yin Deficiency, or more specifically “Liver Yin Deficiency” and “Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency”

Other patterns which can lead to “Liver Yang Rising” or “Liver Fire” are called “Liver Yin Deficiency” or “Liver and Kidney Yin Deficiency”. For practical purposes, we will consider these patterns as the same, since the symptoms overlap tremendously. This is basically the major Yin Deficiency pattern, as the Liver and Kidneys are the deeper source of other Yin Deficiency patterns. One could also have a Yin Deficiency of the Lung, Heart, Spleen and Stomach as well, but these are not as applicable to the diagnosis of headaches and therefore not elaborated upon in this document. For the sake of simplification, we will call this pattern “Yin Deficiency” with the understanding that it is of the Liver and/or Kidneys. The possible causes of “Yin Deficiency” include chronic emotional frustration or depression, especially when combined with longstanding anti-depressant medications, which are considered a “Fire which consumes the Water” or Yin in the body; chronic heat or fire diseases, especially of the liver, like hepatitis, cirrhosis, or liver cancer; alcoholism; drug addictions; longstanding fevers or infections; excessive sexual activity (this is a relative idea, and warrants its own discussion, but use your common sense). The cause of Yin Deficiency can also be inherited from the genetics of your parents. If they were Yin Deficient, chances are you will express it as well at some point in your life. If your mother was weak or Yin Deficient at the time of conceiving or carrying you, you may be Yin Deficient. It is also a normal part of aging, but in Chinese Medicine you can do many things to preserve or improve the Yin. Severe, usually inherited Yin Deficiency is called Kidney Essence Deficiency, which can manifest as severe developmental diseases like mental retardation or Down’s syndrome, or the inability to conceive a baby (infertility). Severe drug addiction or any long term disease can also consume the Kidney Essence, or create severe Yin Deficiency.
Any serious chronic disease like cancer, AIDS/HIV heart disease, or autoimmune diseases in general will consume the Yin over a period of time, and actually these diseases considered merely symptoms which come from a longstanding Yin Deficiency in the body. The Yin can translate into Western medicine or scientific understanding as the blood, body fluids, hormones, neurotransmitters, immune factors, enzymes, reproductive fluids, and others. That’s why deficiencies of these factors point to the pattern of Yin Deficiency. This is also why Chinese medicine is superior at preventing serious disease. It is able to recognize and treat the symptoms of Yin Deficiency in the early stages when the symptoms are evident but mild. If you can boost the blood quality, balance the hormone levels, neurotransmitters, and immune factors (basically preserve or improve the Yin), you can prevent disease. This is a huge step in Modern Medicine, and it is thanks to the meeting of East and West.
The symptoms of the pattern of Yin Deficiency can include some that fall under the pattern of “Blood Deficiency” as stated above, but also include symptoms unique to the pattern of Yin Deficiency as follows:
1) Night sweats or hot flashes, especially for women.
2) Malar flush or “rosy cheeks”
3) Lower back pain, especially the type that is dull and achy, and not necessarily caused from trauma or injury. The diagnosis in western medicine might be “low back pain of an idiopathic nature or unknown cause”, as evidenced in general debility and weakness of the lower back. It could be caused from changes in the spine or bone, namely osteoporosis, arthritis, degenerative joint disease, stenosis ( a narrowing of the bone on the nerve canal) and others.
4) Night urination or nocturia, basically waking up to urinate at night, the more often, the more severe the yin deficiency (more than 3 times per night shows strong yin deficiency), can be hot or deep yellow urine, but is commonly normal or slightly more yellow.
5) Burning sensations of the face or the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and chest (five center heat) or recurrent low fever
6) Dryness of the mouth, the throat, and especially the eyes (dry eyes is a hallmark symptom of Liver Yin Deficiency as opposed to Liver Blood Deficiency)
7) Thirst, especially with a desire to sip slowly.
8) Constipation with dry stools.
9) Better energy in the morning, but tending toward fatigue in afternoon and evening.
10) Lack of saliva or body fluids in general (including ejaculate for men and vaginal secretions for women), or low sperm count/volume or vaginal dryness.
11) Lack of or low sex drive or libido, although it can also manifest as excess sexual desire.
12) Frequent dreams of sex. Although this seems unlikely to be included with a symptom of low sex drive, there is often a desire for sex, with the inability to perform.
13) Premature ejaculation for men, and a general inability to maintain erections. Easily excited but short lived sex.
14) Chronic vaginal infections or cystitis.
15) Diseases of the eyes, especially those stemming from a deficient or degenerative nature including glaucoma, poor vision, macular degeneration, non-inflammatory retinopathies, corneal dystrophies, blindness, lazy eye.
16) The classic tongue presents as a more red than normal, with little or no coating, sometimes with cracks or fissures, and a longer, thinner body as opposed to a pale, fat, swollen tongue.
17) The classic pulse is wiry and rapid, so feels like a wire or thick guitar string under the finger and rapid would be 90 beats or more per minute.

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