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How Do I Use Chinese Medicine for Kidney Health?

By Christina Hall
Updated May 17, 2024
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Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be used in various ways to maintain kidney health. The practice has evolved over generations and employs processes, including herbal medicine, acupuncture and acupressure, along with certain energy balancing exercise, to bring balance and health to the kidney organ. To promote kidney health, a TCM practitioner may prescribe a combination of these techniques. In addition to these common techniques, Chinese medicine for kidney health focuses intently on ingesting a healthy diet that balances body energies and contributes to overall energetic composure. TCM has been proved in numerous studies to have benefits for a number of different kidney conditions.

In order to understand the processes involved in Chinese medicine for kidney health, it is important to understand how TCM defines the kidney organ. In contrast to the prevailing Western medical definition of the kidneys being distinct anatomical structures, TCM describes the kidney as a set of interrelated parts, or an energetic pathway, that when unbalanced, leads to associated pathogenic conditions. The organ is considered to be a single entity; the left and right physical kidneys are not differentiated in the TCM system. The kidney is a yin organ; in fact, it is often considered the root of yin energy within the human energetic system. It is chiefly responsible for major growth and development, and it collects the life energy, Qi, needed for these functions through outer openings to the environment, like the ears and anus.

Chinese medicine for kidney health prescribes certain herbs to ensure that the kidney remains healthy, especially in times of high stress. During periods of stress, the Qi energy needed by the kidney becomes significantly scant, and supplemental energy provided by the herbs, along with the herb’s pharmacological action, can help a deficient system. Some common herbs used include red sandalwood, shigru, and punarnava; they address yin energy deficiencies and also help with more physical kidney ailments, like swelling and fluid-retention. TCM prescribes herbs for acute conditions of the kidney and also long-term as prophylactic treatment.

Acupuncture is performed by TCM practitioners to clear any blocked energy passages. During the technique, tonification needles are inserted into sites along the human meridian system that are known to be energy pathways of the kidney organ. Acupressure is performed in Chinese medicine for kidney health using similar principles to those used for acupuncture. During acupressure treatment, a TCM practitioner presses on acupuncture points, mostly in the foot, ankle, and lower back. After these treatments are performed, the practitioner will often recommend certain yoga or other energy exercises to keep the Qi energy balanced between sessions.

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Discussion Comments

By LethaHadady — On May 16, 2013

This article on the TCM concept of "kidney" is scant -- only a beginning. The tissue of the kidney organ has to be protected and yin-enhancing herbs are moistening and nourishing for kidney and lung tissues. They are not just diuretics, such as punarnava -- an anti-inflammatory herb used in Ayurveda to ease pain from infections.

A useful Chinese patent remedy for nourishing kidney and liver yin is Liu Wei Di Huang Wan (AKA six flavor tea pills) a traditional formula that contains moistening Chinese fox glove (rehmannia) and diuretic fu ling (poria) and other supportive herbs that are cooling and draining. These are recommended for hypertension, diabetes and hormone balance.

The "kidney" energy system regulates water balance in the body.

The adrenal energy/hormonal system (the yang of the kidney) regulates energy, immunity, sexual vitality, hormone balance, breathing, etc. and other functions that are related to adequate adrenal energy for example regulating heart beat. Herbal tonics such as Ba Wei di huang wan support both yin and yang of "kidney" for shortness of breath, diarrhea, chronic pain and stressed internal organs.

TCM anatomy/physiology is a large study and the herbs called for and treatments called for are many depending upon professional TCM diagnosis.

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