Strengthening Kidney Yin

Greetings Dear Readers,Do you have issues with night sweats, low back ache, dry mouth at night, dizziness, nocturnal emissions, poor memory, ringing in the ears, or fatigue?  If so, you may have signs of Kidney Yin deficiency.  You can check with your acupuncturist or TCM practitioner to be sure.  In the meantime, here are some tips on how to strengthen your Kidney Yin.Lifestyle:

The Kidney in TCM is like the savings account of your body’s energy.  It’s important to find ways to conserve and restore your energy.  Simplifying life by focusing on the essentials and letting go of non-essential tasks and concerns will help you conserve energy.  Making a bit of time each day for meditation can increase calm and focus.  Connecting with your Source can help bring in energy from a higher plane which can be very restorative.  Kidneys govern the feet and ears so massaging the ears and feet will be helpful.  It’s also important to get enough rest or “down time” as well as sleep.  When a person experiences too much stress and overwork without rest it begins to weaken the adrenal glands causing caffeine cravings.

Suribachi (small) and surikogi (medium) with b...

Exercise:

It’s important to not over-do aerobic exercise with this condition.  Hatha yoga (not fast or power yoga), Tai Chi, Qi Gong or weight lifting in moderation are exercise choices.  “Seated forward bend” is a yoga posture that strengthens the kidneys.  Yin yoga classes involve many postures which open the Kidney channel and restore to the Kidney Yin.  “Yi Jin Jing” (please see the video I posted on this “Yi Jin Jing and What is Bone Marrow Washing?”) is a qi gong set which builds Kidney strength.

Diet:

Kidney Yin tonics include: pomegranate, potato, pears, aduki beans, wheat grass juice, barley grass juice, parsley, black sesame seeds, nettle tea, vitamin B12, spirulina, chlorella, almonds, rhemmania tea, berries, seaweed.  Many green drink powders available in drug stores contain several of the above ingredients.  Yin by nature is fluid so it’s important to drink enough water, juices, soup/rice congee meals to build the Yin up.

Kidney Yin deficiency is a condition which takes some time to heal.  Steady effort using the above tips will pay off.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

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Tasty Asian Kelp Salad

Greetings Dear Readers,

If you’re anything like me you may find the taste of kelp a bit too much to bear.  Knowing the health benefits of kelp, I’ve tried to all kinds of ways to get it down, from kelp powder pills to kelp pieces in soup to raw kelp noodles.  None of these are very appetizing to me.  This recipe really does kelp some justice.  Here we have the tanginess of the rice vinegar that subdues the kelpy taste into palettable proportions, the  sesame seeds and sesame oil brings a rich nutty taste and a little Braggs or soy sauce enhances the flavour.

The trick I learned from a Chinese friend (whose parents insist she eats more seaweed), is to buy kelp that is very light and thin, almost brittle.  You may need to shop around and ask in Asian markets to find it.  The kelp I’ve seen in health food stores is quite thick.  After it’s soaked it’s rather chewy and rubbery and not so fun to eat.  So think thin and flakey when buying kelp pieces.

TCM Benefits of Asian Kelp Salad

This dish benefits the Kidneys and Liver systems.  In TCM the Kidneys are the “Mother” of the Liver so strong Kidneys suport a healthier Liver.  Kelp is known as the “vegetable of long life” and is very rich in minerals such as iodine and is indicated for hypothyroidism.  Like other seaweeds it removes Phlegm and Damp, softens hard masses such as cysts, tumours, and fibroids and is used in the healing and prevention of cancer.  Kelp is cooling and helps clear Heat toxins such as the effects of radiation therapy, promotes urination and strengthens the Yin (moisture) of the body.

Sesame strengthens the Liver and Kidney channels.  Sesame helps with Kidney deficiency issues such as weak legs, early greying of hair, cold feet, dry stools, infertility, poor memory, poor milk production in women, paralysis and dizziness caused by deficiency.

Vinegar enters the Liver and Stomach.  It breaks up stasis, speeds up blood flow, clears toxins, stops bleeding and kills worms.  The sour flavour in vinegar moves Liver Qi and is indicated for Liver Qi Stagnation issues such as frequent sighing, cold hands and feet, anger or irritability, and headaches and painful menstruation.

Asian Kelp Salad

1. Soak kelp pieces in water overnight.

2. Using 3 cups of soaked kelp, drain place in bowl with 1/4 cup of black sesame seeds.

3. Mix in 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil and 2 Tbsp. vinegar.

4.  Add Braggs liquid aminos/tamari or soy sauce to taste.

5.  Mix all ingredients together and let stand for an hour or more before serving.

6. Enjoy!

Yours in Health,

Cynthia

Goji Berries for Long Life and Yin Deficiency

Nederlands: gedroogde Goji bessen

Greetings Dear Readers,

One of the great things about Traditional Chinese Medicine is the explicit detail on the healing properties of various foods and the way foods can be used according to their Yin/Yang properties to treat various conditions.  The ancient system of TCM Food Cures is based on the idea that everything we put in our mouth can serve a meaningful healing purpose in our body.  Goji berries are a known medicinal superfood with many benefits such as increasing longevity and immunity, improving strength, energy, and sleep quality, and strengthening the Yin of the Kidney, Liver and Lung systems.

Goji Berry

Everything in life has Yin and Yang qualities.  Yin and Yang are relative opposite energies which balance each other.  Yin is slow, cool, dark, liquid, substantial, quiet and calm.  Yin energy is so needed now-adays to balance the overly Yang (fast, loud, stimulating, aggressive and ungrounded) energies of  modern life.  We are multi-taskers.  We are sensory-overloaded.  This way of life can be balanced by strengthening the calm, relaxing Yin energy in the body through Yin-building food and drink, as well as mental practices such as meditation.  Goji berries provide Yin energy to the Kidney, Liver and Lung systems.

Goji berries are a longevity tonic because they strengthen Kidney Yin which helps maintain our life force and hence our longevity.  The Kidney system in TCM has the function of “housing the Essence”.  Essence is the vital life force of the body, the bodys’ reserves or savings account that comes in to play when other body systems are depleted.   Kidney Essence is closely related to Kidney Yin.  When Kidney Yin starts running out, the body starts borrowing from Kidney Essence.  When Kidney Essence is low there will be signs such as fertility issues, scanty menses, early greying of hair, low back ache, softening of the bones, mental dullness and poor memory.

Kidney Yin deficiency and Liver Yin deficiency often go together.  The Kidneys are the “mother” of the Liver system in the TCM creation cycle.  Strong Kidney Qi supports a healthy Liver and Kidney Yin supplies Yin to the Liver.  Kidneys belongs to the Water element which is the mother of the Wood element (Liver).  Insufficient Yin of the Kidneys can lead to insufficient Yin of the Liver.  Signs of Kidney and Liver Yin deficiency include dizziness, dry eyes and floaters, brittle nails, dry stools, numbness and tingling of limbs, very dry hair and skin, insomnia, scanty menstruation, delayed or absent cycle, dull-pale complexion with red cheekbones, depression, dry vagina, nocturnal emissions, and dry throat.

Goji berries also strengthen Lung Yin.  Lung Yin deficiency signs are weak or hoarse voice, dislike of speaking, fatigue, night sweating, dry cough with sticky sputum, and a dry throat and mouth.  Lung energy embodies our spiritual essence, also known as the “Po” in TCM.  Although the body and mind are separate entities, they share a very close relationship.  For this reason Lung Yin is an important energy to maintain for those on spiritual paths.  Smoking dries out the Yin of the Lungs.  For help quitting smoking, ask your acupuncturist for “NADA” (National Acupuncture Detox Association) treatment (5 needles in each ear) which is highly effective and scientifically proven for quitting smoking.

Goji berries are especially indicated for the eyes.  They are said to “brighten the eyes”.  One special recipe for dry, red, itchy eyes is a tea made from chrysanthemum flowers and goji berries.  Chrysanthemum flowers are inexpensive and easily available in Asian herbal stores and grocers along with goji berries.  Goji berries can also be used for tired eyes from too much reading or computer use, blurred vision, eye pain, dullness or ache. 

**Caution for pregnant women: Goji berries stimulate uterine contractions.

Have you tried goji berries yet? What have you noticed?

Love to hear your comments and questions.

Yours in health,

Cynthia

Raw Salad Recipe for Cooling Summer Heat

Greetings Dear Readers,

In the heat of summer we may suffer from symptoms of too much heat such as aching muscles, constipation, nausea or fatigue.  Here’s a great summer recipe to bring you back into balance.  This recipe has a cooling Yin effect on the body and as such is best eating in the evening when the body needs to be more Yin.  Morning and early afternoon are Yang times when it’s better to eat more Yang or warming meals.

Cucumber Mint Salad                       

1 large cucumber, sliced as thinly as possible
1 carrot, grated
1 handful mint leaves

1 lemon, juice and zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Braggs liquid aminos

The main ingredient here is cucumber.  In TCM cucumber is a cold food, one of the coldest in fact, next to watermelon, so it’s perfect for putting out the fire in the Stomach.  If “Stomach Fire” is your issue it means you have symptoms such as ravenous appetite, constipation, bleeding gums, toothache, acid regurgitation, diarrhea, nausea or irritability.

Mint Leaves

Mint Leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mint is a cooling pungent herb which disperses “Wind-Heat” (infection) from the lungs, head and eyes and treats sore throat and fever.  Mint also calms the Liver to relieve such things as depression, PMS and menstrual issues caused by Liver-Qi stagnation.  Mint also brings rashes to the surface to speed healing.

This image shows a whole and a cut lemon.

This image shows a whole and a cut lemon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And lastly, lemon is a cooling fruit and excellent detoxifier.  According to TCM, lemon harmonizes the Stomach and aids digestion.  It cleans toxins from the Liver, Kidneys, blood, mouth and urinary tract.  Lemon reduces inflammation and is used for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.  Lemon is also alkalizing, moistening, antimicrobial and diuretic.

Bon appetit!

Yours in health,

Cynthia

Whole Foods to Heal Adrenals and Spark Your Energy

Greetings Dear Readers,

We’re nearing the end of winter in the northern hemisphere and many of you are experiencing fatigue or depression (sometimes depression in TCM can be about Qi or energy deficiency –  there’s not enough energy for the body and the energy debt can bring the mind down with it).  Just understand that this fatigue is seasonally normal.  The winter months are a time of rest and retreat (hibernation). hibernation Many of us keep working too hard and staying up late over the winter causing exhaustion in early spring.  If we’ve pushed ourselves too hard for too long we may experience adrenal fatigue also known as adrenal burn-out.  In TCM adrenal burn-out is Kidney deficiency (the adrenals sit on top of the kidneys).  Please do yourself a favour and listen to your body.  If it’s asking for rest, please try to prioritize rest and sleep when you need it.  Your body works miracles during rest and sleep time, detoxifying your liver, cleaning your blood, clearing your mind, rejuvenating your glands.

coffee-addiction-cartoonMany people become addicted to caffeine because caffeine stimulates the adrenals to release cortisol which activates the sympathetic nervous system.  When the adrenals are healthy they will produce cortisol naturally and release it at the right time, mainly first thing in the morning.  Healthy adrenals gets us leaping out of bed in the morning and starting the day with a bang. Remember that from childhood? When we’ve been working too much and under too much stress, the adrenals can get weak.  So may reach for caffeine to stimulate the gland chemically.  The addiction to caffeine, even the desire for caffeine in the first place indicates that the adrenals (Kidney yang) is weak.  People try to force themselves off of caffeine, kicking the habit through will power alone.  This is a good start but often the person will continue to crave the caffeine because the adrenals are crying out for nourishment.  The following list of foods and supplements gets to the root of the problem by giving the adrenals the nutritional boost they need.

1. Royal Jelly – a powerful longevity tonic in TCM, try to buy fresh, refrigerated

2. Acerola Cherry concentrate – contains extremely high levels of Vitamin C, 1/2 Tablespoon=500% of the daily recommended requirement, vitamin C is important to adrenal health

3. Salty foods  – naturally occurring sodium is found in high doses in celery, seaweed, Himalayan or Celtic sea salt.  Use in moderation.

4. Bee Pollen – contains high amounts of B vitamins to heal your nerves and reduce perception of stress

5. Maca – supports and heals the adrenals, an adaptogen

Happy Healing!

Yours in health,

Cynthia