Congratulations to incoming Fall 2015 doctoral student Dixie Leigh Young Small, LAc, a 2008 MAcOM graduate of OCOM, and winner of the 2015 Standard Process Scholarship! She will join the program with two additional scholarship awards, the 2015 Practice Development Scholarship, and the Board of Trustees scholarship.

About her most recent award, she says “the process of writing this essay allowed me to take a deeper look at Standard Process' long history of dietary therapy with the use of supplements, as well as the way in which I communicate the options available to my patients for improving the basic building blocks of their body.

"It reminded me that we must try and then try again to expose our patients to ideas that may be unfamiliar, making those ideas eventually understood and then more easily incorporated into their lifestyles. Actually being granted the scholarship reinforced to me that I can meet this challenge and should move forward with starting the DAOM program this Fall. I am very grateful!”

To view more information on OCOM scholarships, visit You can read Dixie’s winning submission below.

The earliest concept of yin-yang is approximately 700 B.C. The concept describes how seemingly opposite forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world. Eighty-five years ago, Standard Process founder, Dr. Royal Lee, began talking about how nutrition plays a significant role in a person’s health. Describe how you will couple these philosophies and explain them to your patients.

In this essay I am going to explain how the concept of Yin and Yang are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and can be coupled to the philosophy that nutrition plays a significant role in a person’s health, as set forth by Dr. Royal Lee, founder of Standard Process. I will go into detail about these philosophies and how they can be effectively communicated to my patients with different communication tactics. The first tactic of communication discussed is based on the teaching methodology wherein the giver of information should: “Say what you are going to say, then say it, then ask the pupil to tell you what was said.” [1]The last aspect of having the listener, or patient in our case, say or write back to the provider what they have been told, is vital. A few minutes of the provider questioning the patient and having them make a few notes that they will keep, can help solidify this information in the patient’s mind.

We will also refer to modern studies that show how populations are more able to integrate health information into their lives when such information is seen as familiar and as coming from their own community. [2]This shows that using a tactic of information sharing on a personal rather than doctor to patient level may be more empowering to the patient to make more positive health choices themselves. This subtle difference relies heavily on a provider’s interpersonal communication skills or the (long held as vital in a health care provider) good-old bedside manner.

In addition to traditional didactic methods of information sharing, and the way of presenting what is perceived as accessible healthy options and allowing a patient to choose them, communication tactics such as anecdote, allegory and metaphor must be used to convey such complex ideas to patients. The patients do not have to understand Yin, Yang and Qi as the TCM practitioner does. What will help them however is to understand their bodies as an interconnected whole ecosystem, with all parts connected and affecting one another. This information can be understood by gardener, administrator, mechanic and chef, by us all, really.

Combining these last two methods of communication with the first one is vital. Even in the world of design, best practice is to avoid jargon, and “Always keep in consideration your client’s level of interpretation towards our work and make it a habit to communicate as simply as possible.” This is referred to as ‘aesthetic communication‘ and is carried out in a very subtle, indirect and artistic manner.[3]

To illuminate what we are about to discuss, a few key concepts will be explained.  First we must look at the different Forms of Qi, which are Vital Substances in TCM and the foundations of all the Yin and Yang energies in the body. All of the functions of the body rely on access to the proper building blocks to function.

There is the Original Qi or Ancestral Qi (Yuan Qi), which is created by the interaction of the body's Yuan yang (original yang) and Yuan yin (original yin). The Zhen Qi is the combination of prenatal original Qi (Yuan Qi) and postnatal Qi derived form air and food or Zong Qi / Gu Qi. Central Qi (Zhong Qi) is the Spleen and Stomach Qi, it processes Gu Qi and lifts Qi to keep it from sinking and the associated illnesses, such as diarrhea and prolapse, that come with sinking Qi. Food Qi (Gu Qi) is derived from Food as the name suggests and is the basis for Ying Qi and Zhong Qi. Ying Qi is derived from food essence, circulates with the blood, combines with fluids to create blood.Gathering Qi or Qi of the Chest (Zong Qi) is formed from combining fresh air with Qi derived from Spleen and Stomach. Protective Qi (Wei Qi) circulates outside of the vessels, opens and closes the pores and because of this active function has yang properties. Upright Qi (Zheng Qi) is the combination of Ying Qi and Wei Qi; it effects the body’s response to disease and can boost all of the body’s functions. Upright Qi’s strength is linked to the strength of the Original Qi or Yuan Qi. Zangfu and Jingluo Zhi Qi is organ and channel network Qi. Zangfu Qi is organ Qi and refers to the respective functions of different organ networks. Jingluo Qi is Channel network Qi refers to the Qi flowing through the meridians.

One can grasp the role that food plays in the formation of all Qi in the human body when considering the way Qi is formed. The Qi that is derived from food is refined to become, at least a portion of, the basis for all of the other forms of Qi present and necessary in the body aside from Yuan Qi or our Original Qi inherited from our ancestors. In light of this, it should be clear that the quality of nutrients in the food we eat will dictate the quality of our Qi and therefore of all our bodily functions and overall health.

Then we turn to the concept of Yin and Yang, which may always only be considered together and as in relationship to one another. Think of the popularized Tai Ji symbol that illustrates the relationship of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang only work in concept as they relate to each other. As one is growing, the other is waning. If one is up, the other is down- but only so far as it can be considered as up again. In a book the cover is yang, the pages yin... but when you open the book, this changes. They must always both be present together and nothing is ever 100% Yin or 100% Yang; everywhere in the universe, in every thing they will always contain just the smallest aspect of each other. If one is absent, then they both have ceased and there is only a great void... until the void is noticed or in some way defined at least, and then there are, once more, yin and yang, in perfect relation and opposition.

An easy way to think of them is that Yin is the shady side of the mountain and Yang is the sunny side, and derive similarities from there: Yin is up Yang is down, Yin is moist and cool, Yang is dry and warm, Yin is still, Yang is active, Yin is substance, Yang is energy. A common mistake is to classify things as Yin and Yang being an intrinsic characteristic of themselves as opposed to when compared to another thing. Women are not intrinsically Yin, but when compared to men, they are more Yin than men.

Dr. Royal Lee, founder of Standard Process, held the theory that the best sources of vitamins and minerals are found in whole foods. This idea was an original one to his time. He was also familiar with Yin-Yang theory and holism, applying these principles to his knowledge of the human body and in particular the endocrine system.  He recognized that chemical constituents in whole foods are synergistic and in presence of each other can be properly absorbed and utilized to provide the body with proper Qi and nutrition, yang and yin, respectively. With this philosophy as his basis, he began developing supplements to fill the gaps in the modern American’s diet. 5. By 1929 Dr. lee was producing the world’s first raw food supplement. [4]

Dr. Lee placed a huge weight on the endocrine system of the body in maintaining vital functions throughout the whole. He saw that with the necessary components of nutrition, the endocrine system could properly direct the body and prevent illness from occurring. These components were not to be single chemical constituents derived from plants. Dr. Lee saw that isolated parts of whole foods, or what many thought of as the contemporary vitamins, were the not compatible with the holistic principle of biology. He likened this to the components of a watch, they can work perfectly when balanced and together, but not worth a nickel to tell time on their own. This is a concept rooted in Yin-Yang theory and holism alike – extraction of one element from food leaves an incomplete nutrient. His work has been expounded upon for almost a century and continues to find validation in modern nutrition theory.

We must be able to make this kind of thought as readily accessible to our patients mental process as is the idea that has permeated modern American culture of when we are sick we reach for an antibiotic. This type of mental accessibility to complex ideas and unfamiliar terms comes through frequent exposure and familiarity. If we are going to use terms such as Qi, or Yin and Yang, we must make then familiar and understood by exposure... or just use more familiar words that can be combined to have similar meanings. The next step is to make the understanding translate into change.  

Real change in how people address their own health concerns, or whether they do at all has been shown to be linked to feeling included in the community bringing this message and having a sense of choosing this path or action themselves, as opposed to being told to take it. Another element of effective health communication that has been shown to have a large impact is the perceived demographic similarities that exist between the educator and the target audience.

While demographics are not malleable and no provider should choose to treat only in their own demographic, the provider as health educator should try to be accessible to their patients, and make efforts to connect to the patient on multiple levels with the aim of having the health information more readily accepted. The lesson learned form modern studies on health communication is that understanding a health issue alone does not lead to a change in behavior, “awareness alone does not hold people responsible for their own health” and that “inclusion, participation and self-determination” help “defeat the major problems seen with solely increasing comprehension of why a certain health behavior is wrong”. [2]

With appropriate application of communication and the solid basis of TCM founded in Yin Yang theory we can affect positive health outcomes and our patients can make lasting lifestyle changes.  Our own awareness of how we are perceived and the best way to relay information to those in our communities will allow quality health care practices to ripple outward into increased awareness around us as well.


[1] Dr. Brian Small, BFA, EdD, taken from direct in - person interview questions and answers 03/23/2015.

[2] A Brief Look At Effective Health Communication Strategies in Ghana:

[3] 5 Effective Communication Tactics for Designers:

[4] Bio or Dr. Royal Lee: