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Our Kidneys maintain the composition of our blood by removing waste products and excess water. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands that they have an even more extensive range of functions: Our Kidneys store a precious substance called Jing which is the foundation for all of our energy – Qi – and our Blood. They are also essential at regulating our levels of Yin and Yang. Kidney health in Chinese Medicine is very vital for your overall health.

So how can we strengthen Kidney Qi and improve Kidney function? In this article we describe the important and all encompassing role that Jing and our Kidneys play in our lives, from childhood and our reproductive years through to old age. 

What do our Kidneys do?

The Kidneys are small organs in the lower abdomen that play a significant role in our overall health. They filter waste products from the blood and excrete them out in urine, balancing fluid and electrolyte levels within the body. Our Kidneys work non-stop every day and control a number of essential functions including regulating blood pressure, and production of red blood cells, through to maintaining bone health. Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure may have a negative impact on their ability to function. Damage to the Kidneys can lead to Chronic Kidney Disease which affects 10% of the global population. It is therefore of vital importance that we look after our Kidneys.

Our Kidneys – underlying the entire cycle of life

All growth, maturation and reproduction is underpinned by our Kidneys which is why it is important to maintain Kidney health in Chinese medicine. They regulate the energy of fear within us and when out of balance we can become anxious or experience panic attacks. The Kidneys also house our Jing. Jing is a form of life force energy that is bestowed upon us from our parents from the time we are conceived. Jing levels naturally decline from middle age resulting in a number of health conditions.

Excessive physical work and sexual intercourse drain Jing and speed up the rate of its natural decline – particularly if you do not supplement your energy levels with healthy food. It is therefore important to not indulge in too much work – or too much sex – and to eat a well balanced diet. 

By looking after our Kidneys we can prevent a many age related conditions.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective many fertility issues are commonly linked to the imbalances in the Kidney system. While Western medicine may say that you have low progesterone levels, a TCM diagnosis may refer it as a deficiency in Kidney Yang.

The role of Kidneys: Kidney health in chinese medicine

According to TCM the complementary but opposing forces of Yin and Yang exist everywhere in nature, including in the human body. It is the role of the Kidneys meridian to keep them in balance. Balancing Yin and Yang is a key factor in TCM – when they are balanced we experience optimum health and wellbeing.

Yin represents coolness and moisture, it is still and calm. Yin is associated with slowing down, contraction and downward movement and the feminine. Yang represents active, high energy and upwards movements. Yang is hot, dry, fast and represents masculine energy.

If Kidney Yang is deficient, and Yin is exerting too much influence, you may experience symptoms that relate to a lack of fire and notice that you feel tired or physical weakness. Where there is a deficiency of Kidney Yin, Yang can start to flow uncontrolled which may be manifested in night sweats, restlessness and disturbed sleep.

Movement of Jing through our life cycle

Conception – The Jing stored within our Kidneys comes to us from our parents at the point of conception – you can picture Jing as a congenital constitution which is essential for growth and development.

Birth – Once we are born our Kidney essence increases gradually and flows abundantly through us as our body develops. The Jing underpins the growth of strong bones, teeth and brain function.

Puberty – When we reach puberty our levels of Jing peak. These high levels of Jing encourage our organs to mature and enable us to reproduce abundantly.

Middle age – When we reach middle age our levels of Jing are still high and our bones are at their most strong.

Old age – As we pass middle age our congenital levels of Jing start to decrease. As this Kidney essence depletes we may start to notice that our organs don’t function as well as they used to, we might lose our hair and our bones become less strong – making it easier for us to suffer fractures and to feel wobbly on our feet. Other symptoms of deficient Jing include the need to urinate frequently, fatigue and aching joints.

Tips to Improve Kidney function with Chinese Medicine

1. Drink more water! Drinking more water is one of the kindest things that you can do to support your Kidneys. They use water to filter toxins and to create the urine that transports them out of the body. It is also helpful to limit your intake of alcohol, fizzy drinks and coffee.


2.Keep your lower back warm. Your kidneys are located in your lower back. In TCM they are considered to be sensitive to the cold so keep them well wrapped up on cold days. They may even benefit from a hot water bottle to help to keep them working well.


3.Eat more fish – Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are great Kidney tonics. Your body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids and fatty fish are a great natural source of these healthy fats. Omega-3 fats may reduce fat levels in the blood and also slightly lower blood pressure. As high blood pressure is a risk factor for Kidney disease, finding natural ways to lower it can help protect the Kidneys.


4.More fruit and vegetables please! Grapes, leek and strawberries are excellent at supporting Kidney health. Other great boosts to your Kidney function include cooked kidney beans, walnuts, brown rice and warming casseroles.


5.Make time to rest and to recharge: An excess of any activity is bad for your health. Excessive physical exertion, such as walking while carrying a heavy load or standing up for long periods places undue strain upon your Kidneys. It’s not a coincidence that the lower back area where Kidneys are stored is also the location of the most common type of back pain caused by strenuous activity. Protect them by avoiding too much physical strain at work and home and make time to rest. Your Kidneys will thank you for this.

Get personalised advice from our TCM specialists!

Foods and Herbs to Strengthen Kidneys

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, foods that help support kidney functions include scallops, sea bass, chestnuts and Wild Yam. Wild Yam is known for its effects to nourish Kidney Jing, and also supporting other organs such as the lungs and the spleen. You can have Wild Yam in pill form or you can add it directly to your stir fry or soup. For your convenience, we suggest you use Wild Yam supplement capsules which are made from 100% natural ingredients, buy them here.

Chinese herbs for kidney health are used as a natural means to prevent damage to your Kidneys and provide a tonic that helps to optimise their function. Some excellent Kidney tonics include:

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Yin Maintenance

 Yin Maintenance by GinSen are multipurpose herbal food supplements. A popular Yin tonic that can be added to your daily routine to help with issues arising from Yin deficiencies such as hormonal imbalance, fertility concerns and sleeping difficulty. 

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Tiao Jing Cu Yun Tang

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Acupuncture for Kidney Health

By stimulating certain points along the Kidney meridian we are able to restore the flow of vital energy. This allows the Kidneys to perform their multiple roles at an optimum level. Acupuncture provides a natural and gentle way of looking after your kidneys and improving their health. Studies have shown that acupuncture is effective at restoring effective Kidney function in patients with chronic Kidney disease.

Get in touch today

For more information about how Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can help you to optimise your Kidney function and slow down the ageing process please book your free consultation today – you can get in touch here!

kidney health in Chinese medicine

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