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Climate Change and Chinese Medicine

Updated: Jun 4, 2021

Connection to our environment

Chinese Medicine relates the body as a microsystem of the natural world. It also views our personal health as being shaped by environmental factors (temperature, moisture levels). This is along the lines of "catching a cold" or when your joints know if it is going to rain.

As the climate progresses through significant changes read how our health is affected and what we can learn from the lens of Chinese Medicine.


Yin and Yang

The notion of yin and yang are a centerpiece of Chinese Medicine and an idea that permeates to everything, including our bodies and the natural world.  There is a little piece of each energetic force in the other, making them interconnected. Movement is continual in our bodies and planet. As one energy changes, the other will adjust.

What exactly is yin and yang?


  • water, moisture, governed by the moon

  • cold, dark, shade, night

  • rest

  • matter (blood, fluids, tissues)


  • heat, fire

  • day, light, sun

  • action, energy


Yin Deficiency

Disease and ecological imbalance both occur when yin and yang are not proportional. When yin is deficient, yang becomes dominant. This is what a yin deficiency pattern looks like:

In our body...

When there is not enough yin (due to ongoing stress, chronic illness,  hormone fluctuation, diet) increased characteristics of yang appear. Yin is cooling, moistening, and related to nighttime.

  • signs of dryness (cough, dry eyes, throat)

  • heat (night sweats, hot flashes)

  • joints sore and brittle

  • insomnia, waking frequently through the night

  • anxiety

In the planet...

The earth also has built in mechanisms for maintaining and regulating balance. When there is not enough yin, or cooling features (due to decreased permafrost, melting polar ice caps and mountain glaciers) there is an increase in yang.

  • changes in water resources

  • more intense heat waves

  • changes in the jet stream creating extreme weather patterns

  • increase in pathogens caused by warmer temperatures


Health effects from climate changes

How will warmer temperatures and declining air quality impact our health?

  • Increase in allergy symptoms from longer and and more intense seasons 

  • Aggravation of respiratory issues (asthma, wheezing, infection)  

  • Increased prevalence of infectious disease spread through insects

  • Skin cancer

  • Mental health trauma due to effects of adverse weather events.


As extremes around, and within us, become more predominant use acupuncture as a way to focus on maintaining balance.

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