I’ve recently had an influx of clients who are all dealing with Kidney deficiency from the Traditional Chinese Point of View so I thought I would update and re-post this article as a point of interest.
The basis of all Chinese Medicine and acupuncture theory and diagnosis begins with the theory of yin and yang. Yin and yang are the two primary polar opposites that compose the entirety of the universe (even in Eugene, Oregon, except for where sensible fashion is concerned…bu dum bum tsk!) But seriously, in terms of binary, yin and yang are the 0 and the 1, the combinations of which constitute all of creation. In this article we will be focusing on yin and yang and how it pertains to the human body, especially the kidneys, and particularly as manifested in patterns of anxiety.
The kidneys in Chinese Medicine theory are considered to be the root of the yin and yang of the entire body. As it pertains to human physiology, yang can be summarized as all the active metabolic processes, while yin are the body’s substances; from the blood, bodily fluids and hormones, to the the nitty gritty…the brain, muscles, flesh and bones. The theoretical premise of the kidneys as the basis of the yin of the entire body makes perfect sense even according to the western understanding of human physiology. In Chinese Medicine theory, the kidneys are intimately related to the bones, marrow and brain. The blood, one of the most significant yin substances in the body is created primarily in the bone marrow, and the hormones, just as significant and further reaching in scope as a yin substance, are regulated primarily by the endocrine system, which is composed primariliy of the pineal and pituitary glands and the hypothalamus. In patterns of kidney yin deficiency what we tend to be speaking about, at least in part, are hormonal imbalances.
Some of the most common signs of kidney yin deficiency include:
- ringing in the ears (tinnitus), headaches, dizziness and spontaneous sweating.
- hair loss, premature greying.
- urinary, sexual, reproductive imbalances e.g. impotence, premature ejaculation
- pain in the low back/ knees.
- insomnia, palipitations and general mental restlessness.
- And our primary focus in this article: anxiety.
According to Chinese Medicine theory, anxiety can occur when kidney yin is deficient and unable to nurture the heart yin. The heart and mind are synonymous in Chinese Medicine theory and when heart yin is deficient, the mind cannot be at rest as its environment is devoid of the cooling, balancing yin element. I will be posting a list of some foods and chinese herbs that are helpful for nourishing heart and kidney yin on the nutrition/ lifestyle page shortly. Again, when we talk about anxiety that is induced by heart and kidney yin deficiency, what we are talking about in western terms is primarily an imbalance in hormones, neurotransmitters and amino acids. While the exact mechanisms of effect of these variables in inducing anxiety are beyond the scope of this article, I will address them in future articles. For now we will limit the discussion to foods, chinese herbs and lifestyle factors that affect heart and kidney yin. Let’s continue that discussion on the nutrition and lifestyle page.
- Terry Chen, L.Ac.
Acupuncture Eugene, OR.