The Chinese Kidney energy nourishes the deepest forms of internal Yin and Yang in the body, namely Yin and Essence (Jing). The Kidneys represent our ancestral constitution, our genetic blueprint and we act as a channel for this energy to the next generation. Our DNA is the closest expression of our Kidney energy.
In the West the Kidneys are known to govern urination but in Chinese medicine they are the root and foundation of the body’s energy, demonstrating that the ancients understood the functioning of the endocrine system and recognised the location of the adrenals on top of the Kidneys. Kidney energy governs metabolism, reproduction, development, and aging, and weak Kidney energy often shows in chronic conditions and fear is the emotion that most closely represents a decline in Kidney energy.
Essence (Jing) is related to our vitality, creativity, longevity, resistance and adaptability to illness, sexual and reproductive capacity, and spiritual power to some extent. Certain aspects of our Essence (Jing) can be boosted but other aspects are irreplaceable and are therefore like a battery’s limited life. Today with its modern pressures put untold strain on Kidney Essence and Yin.
When our internal Essence becomes weakened, we may experience deep tirerness, dizziness, ringing in the ears, dry mouth and throat, thirst, low back pain, night sweats, menstrual irregularities, agitation, irritation, nervousness, insecurity and fear, feelings of heat in head or the lungs or other parts of the body.
A chronic clinical picture would include.
In children: poor bone development, late closure of fontanels, mental dullness or retardation in adults.
In adults: softening of the bones, weakness of knees and legs, poor memory (long term memory), loose teeth, falling hair or premature greying of hair, weakness of sexual activity, soreness of the back,
Tongue: Red and peeled,
Pulse: Floating Empty or Leather
Things that deplete your Essence (Jing):
- Chronic overextending, chronic stress, depletion of your reserves through overwork, over exercising, lack of sleep, worry, anxiety, fear
- Toxins-environmental, dietary, cosmetic
- Poor quality food & water (low life force food and water)
- Sugar, alcohol, stimulants, drugs
- Chronic disengagement from life or lack of purpose
- Pregnancy & Childbirth
- Chronic illness
Treating Essence Deficiency
“To nourish the body’s Essential Yin and Essence (Jing), we must become more connected to our own natural instincts and the will to live.”
The key nutritional wisdom when nourishing Kidney Yin and Essence (Jing), is to focus on nourishing foods that moisten, along with some mildly cooling foods, and to resist the temptation, to overdo cooling foods that may put out a Fire that’s not as strong as it seems.
We are suggested that a wide and varied diet be eaten to nourish Kidney Yin and Essence (Jing), which is about the deep reserves in the body, our constitution including nutritional reserves. Traditional Chinese Nutritional Healing suggests a varied diet that provides a broad array of nutrients. This is not the time to eat the same foods over and over again.
Water: Since Yin and Essence (Jing) is about moisture, I suggest about 2 litres of water throughout the day.
Salty flavored foods: miso, sea salt, tamari, salted raw sauerkraut or kimchee (Korean cultured vegetables). Each of the five elements in TCM has a flavor attributed to it, and the Water flavor which governs Kidneys is salty. To support the Water element, recommend a healthy amount of salt, as too much salt will have the opposite effect. Check to make sure your client is not getting too much, and that she has replaced commercial table salt with sea salt.
Kidney shaped foods: black beans, kidney beans, most beans – Because beans are kidney shaped as well as seeds with potential for new life, these foods have long been considered especially nourishing to the Kidneys.
Blue and black foods: Blueberries, blackberries, mulberry, black beans – The colors blue and black correspond to the Water element of the Kidneys. It is possible to strengthen the Water element by eating blue/black foods.
Seafood: fish, shrimp, seaweeds – all support the Water element.
Seeds: flax, pumpkins, sunflower, black sesame – seeds relate to fertility and growth which is governed by Kidney energy.
Nuts: Walnuts, Chestnuts – Nuts are seeds. These nuts are particularly recommended for Kidney energy.
Animal Products: Pork, duck, lamb, eggs, cheese – Small amounts of animal protein can be used therapeutically here.
Pork and duck are considered moistening. Since animal products are dense foods there are some cautions: If there is digestive impairment, the high fat content of duck may be too much. Lamb is the most warming of the meats, so if the person has a lot of hot flashes or night sweats, this may not be appropriate. Excess cheese may be too dampening for the Spleen. Too much meat, particularly without the balance of vegetables, will Stagnate the Liver and create heat. Look to the individual to decide on the ideal amount of animal products.
Bone-Marrow Broths & Soups: This will nourish Marrow governed by Kidneys. Especially beneficial for people wanting to prevent or heal osteoporosis.
Grains: Barley, Millet. These are both mildly cooling and nourishing to Yin.
Vegetables: Asparagus, Deep green leafy vegetables – Since it has diuretic properties, asparagus is especially helpful with opening the flow for those with dark, scanty urine. Deep green leafy vegetables build the Blood, and since Blood is a Yin fluid, they are highly recommended. Also moist vegetables such as cucumbers and celery are helpful.
Fruits and Melons: These are emphasized since they are moistening and mildly cooling. Too much fruit can be too cooling resulting in diarrhea, but 2-4 pieces of fruit a day should be fine.
Tonics: Spirulina, kelp, chlorella, wheatgrass – These mineral rich foods build the Blood which enhances Yin. They are also high in nucleic acids (RDA/DNA) which have been shown to reduce signs of aging.
Mineral rich herbs: stinging Nettles, Oatstraw. Nettles are a gentle, cooling tonic that supports the Blood and Kidneys, while oatstraw strengthens the nerves.
Moistening herbs: Marshmallow, slippery elm, comfrey, aloe vera gel – these are all moistening demulcents with high mucilage content. Flax seed tea could be used here too.
Chinese Herbs: Rehmannia root – often found in the patent formula used for Kidney Yin Deficiency called “Six Flavor Tea Pills” or “Rehmannia Six”.
Unfinished – call back regularly or sign up for email updates.
James O’Sullivan - that's me, a people friendly practitioner and lecturer of Integrated Medicine, serving my patients, my students and the public with the positive benefits of both Conventional Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
It's a wonderful life
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or assess. The information provided is not to be considered a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.