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ADHD Symptoms and Yin Deficiency


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ADHD symptoms are associated with Yin deficiency. Getting a sense of what Yin energy is and what happens when it’s deficient helps us see ADHD in a different light. Most of us are familiar with the black and white Yin/Yang symbol and its meaning. Yin and Yang represent complementary opposites – night and day, darkness and light, cold and hot. We all embody these opposing forces and our health is optimized when they are in balance. If either Yin or Yang becomes dominant, it will consume the other. People exhibiting ADHD symptoms therefore tend to have excess Yang energy.


Yin Energy: Water and Stillness


Yin energy is the black half of the symbol and represents female characteristics such as receptivity and relaxation. Yin nourishes the body’s blood, bones, organs (viscera) and tissues. It’s traditionally associated with:

  • night
  • earth
  • water
  • fall and winter
  • the body
  • the parasympathetic nervous system (governing relaxation and digestion)
  • left side of the body (right-brain)
  • potassium

Yin is linked to the night because of its association with rest and recuperation. Yin’s archetype is the nourishing mother – always there to provide a warm embrace, a healthy meal, a listening ear plus a sense of safety and unconditional love.


Yang Energy: Fire and Movement


Yang energy is the white half of the symbol and represents male characteristics. It’s active, outward oriented, expansive and light. Yang energy is traditionally associated with :

  • day
  • heaven
  • fire
  • spring and summer
  • the mind
  • the sympathetic nervous system (governing action)
  • right side of the body (left-brain)
  • sodium

Yang is like a fire that creates heat and movement within us. It activates mind and body and drives us from one action or thought to the next. Yang’s archetype is a loving and kind yet authoritative father – always there to motivate us and instill discipline. Yang energy has many positive aspects, but in excess it depletes Yin, causing ADHD symptoms or other health problems.

When we possess insufficient Yin, typical ADHD symptoms like lack of concentration, impulsivity and over-activity start to occur. On a physical level, Yin deficiency inhibits the metabolic processes in liver and kidneys, two important Yin organs. As a result, nutrient absorption becomes impaired. This can lead to hormonal imbalances, mineral depletion and dehydration. On an emotional level, Yin deficiency can lead to anger, fear and anxiety. In TCM, the kidneys are associated with fear while the liver is associated with anger. Therefore, keeping stress levels to a minimum helps soothe the kidneys, while healthy anger management relieves the liver. Practicing mindfulness is a good way to become more aware of any emotional issues that may be blocking or draining your energy.

What depletes Yin:

  • working long hours
  • excessive worry
  • mental, emotional and physical stress
  • irregular meals
  • excessive consumption of spicy foods
  • too much coffee and alcohol (more then two cups/glasses daily)
  • emotional conflicts
  • insufficient down-time
  • chaotic lifestyle
  • lack of sleep
  • extreme cold, heat, wind
  • long (over 45 mins) and intensive cardio-vascular workouts
  • artificial coloring, synthetic chemicals and/or other toxic elements found in processed foods

How to replenish Yin:

Yin is replenished through relaxation, contemplation, restful sleep, quality food and ample hydration – the benefits of a proper diet should definitely not be underestimated!


Is the World Suffering From a Yin Deficiency?


Sometimes it seems like the entire human population is experiencing ADHD symptoms. This comes as no surprise. We live in a Yang-oriented society where the importance of ego, status and achievement is highly exaggerated. As Lily Allen sings in the appropriately titled song ‘The Fear’: “life’s about film stars and less about mothers.” This is a plain observation about what today’s society lacks – a sufficient amount of motherly, calming Yin energy.


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