|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.
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.
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,
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.
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-a–days 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,
Greetings Dear Readers,
Maybe it’s an interview for that job you’re really hoping to land – your heart is racing, palms sweating, feeling jittery, over-heated, butterflies in the stomach. Most people understand a little anxiousness as part of the adventure called life but everyday anxiety is another story. Luckily Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has had great success with getting to the root of this matter.
Rather than just popping a few pills with questionable side-effects, what acupuncture does is effectively re-wire the energy circuits of the body. So instead of all the firey energy from your heart rushing upwards causing dizziness, sweating, ungroundedness, and facial flushing, acupuncture needles in the right places can stop the cascade of neuro-chemicals such as cortisol (released as part of the flight-or-flight stress response) and instead activate opium and serotonin receptors thereby increasing feelings of well-being and relaxation.1 If that’s not enough, the effects can last up to several days with no negative side-effects.
So how did those quirky TCM people figure this out? The ancient wisdom of TCM breaks down symptoms according to patterns relating to the organ systems. In plain English, most people with anxiety will likely have one of the following commonly seen patterns: “Heart-Fire”, “Kidney-Yin Deficiency Heat” or “Blood or Yin Deficiency”.2
People with “Heart-Fire” anxiety often have heart palpitations, ulcers (canker sores) on the tongue, trouble falling asleep and a bitter taste in the mouth when they wake up after a fitful dream-disturbed sleep. This person will benefit from avoiding “hot” foods such as chili peppers, onions, alcohol, caffeine and chocolate and do better with eating cooler foods such as leafy greens, kale, celery or cucumber. In addition it is helpful for them to increase their Earth element (this comes from a Five Element acupuncture protocol called “Turn Fire Into Ash” meaning that the excess Fire in the Heart is calmed by pushing this energy towards the next element in the Creation cycle which is Earth (Fire-Earth- Metal-Water-Wood). The Earth element is increased by such things as letting go of too much worry and over-thinking, eating mindfully, wearing Earthy colours such as brown and eating foods that grow underground such as carrots, beets and potatoes.
The Kidney-Yin Deficiency Heat person will have anxiety along with night sweating, dizziness, ringing in the ears, flushed cheeks, dry mouth and low back ache. This person will benefit from getting more sleep, avoiding overwork, eating Kidney Yin foods such as black beans, seaweed, butter and sesame, slowing down (Yin=slow whereas Yang=fast) and doing meditation or qi gong.
Blood deficiency is very common in women because of monthly blood loss through menstruation. The person will feel tired and want to lie down, have numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, blurred vision or floaters in the visual field, a pale complexion and scanty menstruation. They do well with dietary changes mainly such as including blood-building foods such as beets, dark green vegetables, egg yolks, bee pollen and the herb “dong quai” (also called angelica). With diligent daily use of blood-building foods symptoms should clear up in about three months.
The Yin deficient anxious person is essentially lacking essential fluids (Yin is liquid in nature) and experiences afternoon fever, night sweating, dry mouth, and scanty dark urine. This is often seen when a person has been working too hard, staying up late, eating fast food on the run, essentially “life in the fast lane”. This person does well with resting from overworking, going to bed by 10pm, eating slow, home-cooked meals and eating Yin foods such as seaweed, dairy, beans, berries, foods that are black, blue or purple in colour such as eggplant or black sesame seeds and taking a more slow, mindful approach to life.
You do not need to live with chronic anxiety. There is a lot your acupuncturist can do to relieve these symptoms and I have only scratched the surface here. Your acupuncturist will diagnose the pattern by examining your tongue and wrist pulse, observation and a few short questions. You should feel effects during the first treatment. For those with needle anxiety, (oddly enough I’m one of them), acupuncture needles are very thin (infinitely smaller than the hypodermic needles used to inject vaccine in hospitals) and are often not felt when inserted. You can also ask for Japanese needles which are as thin as a hair.
Do your symptoms fit any of these descriptions? If so, let’s set up an appointment and get you on the road to better health and peace of mind.
Yours in health,
1. Jaung-Geng Lin, Yuan-Yu Chan, and Yi-Hung Chen. February 22, 2012. Acupuncture for the Treatment of Opiate Addiction. National Institutes of Health.
2. Maciocia, Giovanni. Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Guide. 2004. Elsevier Ltd.