Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have a similar understanding of the physiology of the kidneys. But TCM also sees the kidney meridian system as an organ system nurturing the body's life force or qi (pronounced "chee").
In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidney contains our essence, or our genetic makeup, including the potential of every aspect of our lives from the time of our birth. We receive congenital essence from our parents and acquired essence from the foods we eat.
The kidney stores kidney essence, which transforms kidney qi, producing blood. Kidney essence is yin, and kidney qi is yang.
When health is good, kidney yin and kidney yang are in balance. Imbalance will usher in disorder and disease.
Kidney essence is foundational for all growth and development of the body, controlling sexuality and fertility. Kidney essence regulates teeth, hair, bones, the development of marrow and of the brain.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the source of our will power. Strong kidneys enable us to set goals and carry them out.
A strong kidney meridian system creates a hardy constitution that can handle stress and hard work, and still thrive. A weak kidney meridian system causes frailty in a person who easily becomes ill or fatigued.
The kidney regulates circulation, energy, sleep and vitality. The kidney is in charge of fluid metabolism and cooling the body. Hot flashes are seen as the kidney doing an inadequate job of cooling.
Chronic inflammation can weaken the kidney. Pain in the knees and lower back may indicate energy deficiency of the kidney meridian.
Weak kidneys can cause chronic asthma in the lungs, hearing problems and tinnitus in the ears. Fear, anxiety, and dark circles under the eyes are signs of kidney deficiency.
Frequent clear urination and urinary incontinence are considered kidney qi deficiency. Chronic kidney inflammation, chronic renal (kidney) failure or senile kidney deficiency diseases all point to kidney qi deficiency, kidney yang deficiency and kidney yin deficiency.
The kidney meridian connects 27 yin points.