The kidneys (Shen) are associated with water metabolism and regulation in traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese also link this function to the lungs. Therefore, the kidneys are believed to play a part in co-ordinating the respiration process. In general, the functions of the kidney are:
- regulates water in the body,
- co-ordinates respiration
- stores vital essence (Jing) and determination,
- produces bone morrow,
- is seen in the hair and opens into the ear
- is linked to the eors ond genitals
Chinese medicine also associates water regulation with "body fluids" (Jin Ye). These are divided into "clear fluid", which circulates through the organs and tissues, and "turbid fluid", which is transfarmed into sweat and urine ond is excreted.
The kidneys send the clear fluid upwards and the turbid downwards for disposal. They also help to direct the Qi flow downwards. This helps the lung during inhalation. If kidney Qi is weak, it can lead to breathing problems.
The kidney also transforms Jing into bone marrow, which spreads along the spinal cord to the brain - originally believed to be made of bone marrow. Through this connection, the kidney is associated with hair on our head - an abundance of hair indicates healthy kidney Qi and strong Jing.
Teeth are seen as the bones' surplus, so are also ruled by the kidneys. The ears, on the other hand, are the kidneys' external opening. The association with the reproductive system also links the kidneys to the outward genitalia. They also have a spiritual dimension, this time with Zhi, translated as "will" or "determination".
The kidney during menopause
Menopausal problems are related to the natural run-down in the congenital Jing. When weakened kidneys fail to control fire, the heart becomes over-excited. This leads to typical symptoms of night sweats, hot flushes, emotional upsets, palpitations, and tiredness. Erratic menstruation also affects blood and the liver.
In most cases the main problem is an imbalance in kidney and liver energies. Herbal remedies focus on herbs to tonify Oi and Xue (blood).
A typical prescription is liu Wei Di Huang Wan:
- Shu Di Huang - 18 grams (3/5 ounce);
- Shan Zhu Yu - 9 grams (1/3 ounce);
- Shan Yao - 9 grams (1/3 ounce);
- Zi Xie - 9 grams [1/3 ounce);
- Mu Dan Pi - 6 grams (1/4 ounce);
- Fu Ling - 9 grams (1/3 ounce)
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