Everybody knows that the functioning of the Kidney organs are very important for our body. Even many medications come with reminders that if taken without proper care they can have a poor effect on the kidney function. To avoid Kidney function disorders it is best to become aware of how the Kidneys work for our body, how to take care of the Kidneys and how to identify your own symptoms of Kidney disorders in the early stages. This is what I will be sharing with you in this article.
1. Main Physical Functions of Kidneys & Your Health
i) The Kidneys Store Original Essence & Your Constitution
Roughly 2,000 years ago Traditional Chinese Medicine had already identified that the Kidney organs are located at the lower back and the Kidneys contain the body’s original Essence (energy) inherited from the parents at conception. The person’s constitution, characteristics of the body and general health is strongly associated with the parents’ condition of health at the time of conception.
ii) Kidney Function and Your Reproduction & Development
Chinese medicine considers the male and female sexual function, including the condition of the sperm and egg, is associated with the Kidney function. For example, in my clinic, I realise many people suffer infertility issues because their Kidney Yin & Yang is in disorder or weaker which affects the quality of their egg or sperm. For some clients, the poor quality of the egg and sperm even causes miscarriage. For these cases, usually we use the treatment principle: tonify Kidney Yin & Yang (Essence) to give greater support and balance for quality of the sperm and eggs and increase the success of the pregnancy.
In the clinic we have realised that balancing the Kidney Yin & Yang is also a great help to most sexual issues such as impotence and lowered libido.
Another example: the development of a child’s body (including, sitting, crawling, standing, walking, talking, listening) after birth is also strongly associated with the Kidney function. For those children with delayed or sluggish development Traditional Chinese Medicine usually uses Tonify or Balance Kidney Essence (Yin & Yang) as the treatment principle.
iii) Kidney Function & Your Water Metabolism
Chinese medicine considers the Kidney Qi & Kidney Yang to dominate water metabolism. For this point, the Traditional Chinese Medicine function of the Kidney is similar to the Western Medicine function of Kidney.
If someone is deficient in Kidney Qi or Kidney Yang, the body’s water metabolism will become sluggish and cause the body to suffer certain symptoms or diseases. For example, oedema with heaviness & bloating, puffy knees and puffy legs, overweight or difficulty losing weight, tired or fatigued, puffy face (especially in the morning). For these cases, usually we set up the treatment principle to tonify the Kidney Qi & Yang, which achieves very good results.
Another example: Bedwetting – This problem often comes to children with Kidney Qi or Kidney Yang deficiency. These children can also experience the following symptoms: looking pale, lack of energy, maybe falling behind in class or difficulties concentrating. Chinese medicine usually treats this by tonifying the Kidney Essence, which is a great help in resolving bedwetting.
iv) Kidney Dominates Bone, Brain & Marrow
Chinese Medicine considers Kidney Essence is very important for supporting bone marrow and the brain. In the clinic, we often find that if the Kidney Qi or Essence is deficient, the bone is not as strong as others. This especially applies to the middle & older age groups – their bones are easily injured or broken. Other symptoms associated with Kidney Essence deficiency may include: joint pain, weakness in arms & legs, poor memory, lower back pain, frequent urination or early grey hair.
If you are experiencing these symptoms in earlier or middle age, we suggest taking extra care of your Kidneys. This extra care can also help reduce signs of aging and prevent dementia.
The prevention aspect of Traditional Chinese Medicine is very concerned about this issue and usually encourages people even from middle age to balance their body with acupuncture (one treatment every 2 to 4 weeks) or certain Chinese herbal & dietary tonics (for more detail please check my diet therapy articles for Kidney). This is aimed towards maintaining the Kidney Essence, reduce aging and the serious issues that can occur in older age.
v) Kidney Function & Your Ears
The Kidneys and the ears have a strong internal relationship from a physical and pathological aspect. This means that the Kidneys are one of the major organs that send energy to the ears to support ear function through the Kidney Channel. Therefore, the health of the Kidneys can reflect the health and functioning of the ears.
Points of Interest Relating to the Kidneys
Kidney Essence (“Vital Energy”) is first formed when life first starts, hence its alternative name “Original Essence”. Kidney Essence is also the last energy to be exhausted by the body before passing away. In Chinese Medicine, the pupil is a sign of the Kidney and even in Western Medicine the pupil is checked for a response as part of assessing for signs of life.
Due to the relationship between the Kidneys and the ears, one theory would support that the hearing would last until the Vital Essence is exhausted from the body. Interestingly, when someone is in quite a serious condition, appearing unconscious or unaware (cannot talk, communicate or watch you) of their surroundings, first aiders or loved ones are still encouraged to talk to them because they can often still hear. Sometimes, calmly talking to the person can help them recover (bringing back their Vital Energy).
vi) Other Disorders of the Kidneys
Kidney deficiencies are not only the source of the issues mentioned above, but can also cause other problems, such as problems with the teeth, menopause, periods, infertility and men’s sexual function.
2. Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Essence Deficiency or Kidney Yin & Yang Disorders
Do you have symptoms of Kidney disorder?
Kidney weakness or disorder can occur at any age. If we identify the issues at the earlier stage it can be easily resolved and the Kidney health can be maintained, preventing serious issues later in life.
Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Weakness & Disorders of Yin & Yang
Lack of energy, lower back pain or weakness, frequent urination especially in the evening or during the night, increased thirst during the night, insomnia, waking very early in the morning (3 or 4 am), poor memory, tinnitus, early menopause, period problems, lower libido, impotence, pain in the soles or heels of the feet, puffiness at the ankles or knees. For children, malnourishment or delayed growth.
3. How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Help Kidney Issues?
If you have the symptoms mentioned above, first of all, we suggest that you see your family doctor for a general check. In case they find nothing significant (ie. in blood test, etc) then I suggest you consult your Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner to balance the body.
i) We will check you by traditional diagnosis methods (including pulse, tongue, signs and symptoms) to find out the cause or aspects of the Kidney disorder.
ii) We will then set up an individualised treatment principle to treat the cause of your disorder or imbalance. The treatment may include Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, acupuncture, cupping, scrubbing or meridian massage.
iii) During the treatment, according to your cause and your constitution, we also give you suggestions for suitable lifestyle and diet. This will not only help you get better results from the treatment but also promote optimal Kidney health for your future.
4. Diet & Lifestyle for Kidneys
i) Treat Old & New Back Injuries
If you have an old or a new back injury, be sure to get this treated and resolved as soon as possible. Long term back injuries can cause poor circulation and stagnation which affects the Kidney function and weakens the Kidneys.
ii) Take care of the Lower Back & Feet
It is best to keep the lower back and the soles of the feet warm, especially on cold days and in the winter. Avoid sitting and walking directly on cold hard floors – cover the feet and cushion the seat. The Kidneys are located in the lower back and the Kidney Channel covers the soles of the feet. Exposing these areas to the cold can damage the Kidney Yang and Qi, causing low back pain and sore feet.
iii) Regular Sexual Life (Intercourse)
Chinese Medicine considers a regular sexual life benefits the internal organs and balances the Yin and the Yang. However, over-doing it can affect the Kidney Essence for both the man and the woman. Appropriate regularity is very individual and can vary from person to person depending on age, constitution, health, diet, lifestyle and even the season. I am going to write another article to give further details on this issue. A simple way of judging what is suitable for you is by monitoring your energy the next day.
iv) Diet Suitable for Kidney Issues
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the following foods are suitable for Kidney support: scallops, small dried prawns, walnuts, chives, goji berries, black beans, soybeans, lamb or lamb bone soup, beef or beef bone soup. For further details, please check my diet therapy articles.
For those on long-term medication, beware of any possible side effects that might damage the Kidneys. Check with your family doctor if you have any concerns.
5. How Does Chinese Medicine Help Your Kidney Function?
i) If you have Kidney symptoms which we mentioned above, we will check you by our traditional diagnosis method (pulse, tongue, signs & symptoms) to find out exactly what aspect of your Kidney function is in disorder (Qi, Yin, Yang, stagnation).
ii) We will set up the principle of the treatment which is suitable for your individual cause. The type of treatment can be traditional Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping, scrubbing or meridian massage.
iii) According to your cause and constitution we will also give you suitable lifestyle and dietary recommendations and advice.
All of these things not only help you to recover quickly, but also gives you an idea of how to prevent Kidney disorders in the future.
6. Successful Clinic Cases
i) Low Back Pain
A 48 year old male suffered lower back pain for many years. He was a busy shift-worker and although seeking treatment for many years had never found great relief or resolution.
When he came to our clinic he presented with the following symptoms: constant low back pain which disturbed his daily function as well as his sleep, his low back was very weak, knees and ankles were puffy, lack of energy, frequent urination and lower libido.
After our diagnosis we realised that the low back pain was associated with Kidney weakness. We gave him treatment (acupuncture & Chinese herbs) which not only cleared stagnation and improved the circulation on the lower back, but also strengthened the Kidney energy. After just two treatment sessions the low back pain improved significantly. After a few more treatments the lower back pain was completely resolved along with the other symptoms mentioned above.
ii) Acupuncture & Kidney Function Balance
A young man over 30 years old suffered a Kidney disorder from very young and required a Kidney transplant as a child. His Kidneys never functioned at 100% even after the transplant.
When he came to me, he presented with severe hip pain. I gave him acupuncture for the hip pain as well as to balance the Kidneys (because I found that he also had a Kidney Qi deficiency). After four sessions of treatment his hip pain was completely resolved and his regular Kidney function check (with his doctor) was significantly improved compared to his previous checks. His family was of course extremely surprised and happy with this. He now comes to me for acupuncture once a month to maintain his Kidney balance and function.