Welcome to Natural Health by Karen Vaughan, MSOM, Science writer, Licensed Acupuncturist, and Registered Herbalist (American Herbalists Guild) A photo of Acupuncturist Karen Vaughan

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Foods for Yin Deficiency

Yin represents the energy that is responsible for moistening and cooling bodily functions. When this energy is depleted your body begins to show signs of “heating up”. This is not a true heat but rather a lack of the moistening and cooling functions that are necessary to maintain a healthy balance. Foods to tonify Yin include;


Barley, millet, oatmeal


Alfalfa sprout, artichoke, asparagus, kelp, mung bean sprout, okra; pea, potato, seaweed, string bean, sweet potato, tomato (especially tomato paste), water chestnut, yam, zucchini


Apple, bilberry; blueberry; blackberry; apricot, avocado, banana, goji berries, lemon, lime, mango, mulberry, pear, persimmon, pineapple, pomegranate, watermelon


Adzuki, black beans, black soya, kidney, lima, mung

Bean Products

Tofu (not too much for potential thyroid or osteoporosis issues)

Nuts and seeds

Coconut milk, sesame seed, black sesame seed, walnut


Fish in general but especially clam, fresh water clam, crab, cuttlefish, oyster, octopus, sardine


Beef, duck, goose, pork, pork kidney, rabbit


Cheese, chicken egg, cows milk (especially raw and grass fed), duck egg

Herbs and spices

Marjoram, nettle slippery elm, marshmallow, holy basil

Oils and Condiments

Honey, malt, coconut oil, ghee, red palm oil for cooking, extra virgin olive oil as condiment. Carlson’s lemon flavored fish oil as condiment.


American ginseng, royal jelly, blueberry solid extract, tomato solid extract, cod liver or fish oils, Vitamin D

Foods especially useful to tonify Kidney Yin Deficiency.


Potato, squash, sweet potato, yamAlfalfa sprouts, asparagus, kelp, potato, seaweed, string bean, sweet potato, yam


Lemon, lime, mulberry


Aduki, black bean, black soya bean, kidney bean

Nuts and Seeds

Black sesame seed


Fresh water clam, oyster


Duck, pork kidney


Chicken egg

Examples of every day western foods that can be used to build yin

• Fruit smoothies with honey and banana
• Oatmeal with slippery elm powder and goji berries
• Fruit salad made with the fruits listed above
• Fish dishes with coconut milk and stir fried okra
• Omelettes with cheese and vegetables
• Japanese seaweed salad
• Asparagus and egg salads with sesame seeds
• Tacos made with Kidney beans and topped with a small amount of cheese
• Baked Potato stuffed with tofu with soya sauce and sesame seeds.
• Pork and apple dishes
•Liver, especially pork liver stir fried with sesame oil and mushrooms
• Miso soup with tofu and seaweed

Foods to avoid

It is important to ensure that stimulating foods are not being consumed, as these will only further depleate yin. Caffeine, alcohol, sugar and strong heating/ pungent spices all belong in this category. Note. Yin building foods like yin tonifing herbs have a tendency to be congest the spleen and promote stagnation if large amounts are consumed.

It is therefore important to consume small quantities frequently rather than large helpings irregularly.