In modern medicine, the kidneys are described as, “two bean-shaped organs that extract waste from blood, balance body fluids, form urine and aid in other important functions.”
Although these actions are imperative to the proper functioning of the body, it is somewhat of a limited perspective about the full power of the kidneys and why it’s essential to nourish them.
We don’t often think much about our kidney’s health until they don’t function so well anymore. Or, until they stop functioning altogether as is the case with kidney failure which can be fatal.
Supporting the kidneys is crucial to the quality of your life. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys store our “life-force” or our jing essence. And, once that is depleted, deficiency sets in limiting the quality and duration of your life.
According to ancient wisdom, the Kidney and Bladder (KD/BL) systems work together, and are responsible for the water element in the body.
On the physical level, water is essential for circulation of blood, lubricating cells, carrying heat, lymphatic flow, sexual fluids, perspiration, tears, and waste elimination.
The kidneys also govern the bones and it’s marrow. When clients complain of osteoporosis or other bone disease, I know we need to focus on nourishing their kidneys.
The flavor associated with the kidneys is “salty.” Salt can both nourish and/or injure this vital system. People often discover this when they either eat too much salt and the cells contract leaving the body dehydrated, or they go on a salt-free diet and the cells lose their integrity and ability to retain water (edema).
Using the salty flavor to nourish the kidneys requires a delicate balance: not too much and not too little.
The ears are the sense organ associated with the kidneys and are responsible for the ability to listen and hear. If the ears are chronically wet, itchy, ringing, buzzing, or if someone is suffering from hearing loss, it indicates an imbalance in this system. An example is elderly people experiencing hearing loss as their vitality and essence slowly wanes.
The emotions associated with poorly functioning kidneys are excessive fear, trepidation and loss of will. While a strong will, ambition and drive to succeed in all aspects of life (without being overbearing) can indicate a healthy kidney element.
Spiritually, the kidneys are supported when we quietly listen, become receptive, and keep our mind still and clear like the Master Jedi, Yoda, from Star Wars.
The kidney element becomes stronger when we move beyond our fears and not become consumed by them. Fear weakens the kidneys and the bladder system. It’s one of the reasons why someone will lose their water (urinate), when they get scared. Hence the expression, “I was so scared I peed myself!”
On the other hand, our kidneys are deeply nourished when we take action on the things that scare us most – think of Luke confronting his father, Darth Vader. It was scary but he had to do it. That classic movie confrontation was the perfect simulation for how to strengthen your kidney element (life force) on a much deeper level.
Below are some indicators that your kidneys need your support:
- Brittle bones, osteoporosis, tooth loss
- Bladder infections or Prostate infections, difficulty urinating (pain and/or discomfort)
- Kidney stones
- High/low blood pressure
- Black or blue color around the eyes
- Excessive thirst
- Ringing, buzzing, humming in the ears, hearing loss
- Amenorrhea (lack of menstrual cycle)
- Infertility, lack of sex drive
- Frequent urination
- Lower back pain
- Extreme dislike of cold
- Frightened by loud noises
- Intense anxiety, phobias, irrational fears, paranoia
- Anti-social, emotional withdrawl
- Insecurity, poor self-confidence
- Lack of trust and loss of faith
If you’ve got a few of the above symptoms, your KD/BL system is talking to you. It’s letting you know that it needs to be nourished on some level (physical, emotional, spiritual).
Here are some diet and lifestyle suggestions to help start rebalancing your Kidney/Bladder system to enhance your life-force:
- Reduce overly salted foods; cured meats, sausages, bacon, pretzels, potato chips
- Avoid coffee, chocolate, sugar, drugs and other stimulants
- Eat cranberries, blackberries and blueberries as the go-to fruits
- If the kidney element is deficient, increase animal fat and protein, and reduce fruits and salads
- If the kidney element is excessive, decrease animal fat and protein (specifically pork, beef, duck), and increase fruits, fish and salads
- Use mineral rich herbs like Nettles
- Hydrate daily
- Eat ocean foods; sea salt, sea vegetables, fish, shellfish
- Sleep! Get adequate rest
- Learn to be receptive
- Use meditation to, calm and clear the mind
- Be fearless and do the thing that scares you most!
There’s a lot more intricacies to understanding and supporting the health of the kidneys, bladder and water element. The above is a great place to start nourishing this essential system.
If you are a health coach or wellness practitioner and want to understand the body from this Ancient Healing perspective, get my Top Tips to be more Masterful when working with clients.
As Master Yoda would say… “may the life-force be with you.”
Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker and Herbalist. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.