In Chinese medicine, each organ energy is associated with both an element and a season. The winter is the time of the kidney and the element of water. The kidney energy is said to be the root of all yin and yang, or in other words, our foundation or reservoir. A metaphor that comes to mind is that of a water wheel, where one bucket dumps into the next, filling it up until it spills over, and so it goes as the buckets fill, the wheel turns and continually propels the cycle. If not enough water, not enough force to keep the wheel moving and an imbalance is created.
A person who is balanced in kidney energy can be both active and productive, yet calm and reflective. Action with proper intention. A balance of yin and yang.
So what damages or depletes kidney energy? This energy is associated with the adrenals, and so probably the number one consideration would be stress and the emotional component of fear! Other choices such as sugar, alcohol, drugs or coffee can also deplete. The climactic factor is cold. Because this energy is more vulnerable in the winter, we want to take extra care to warm the inside to compensate.
Every person has a unique constitution and therefore a lack of kidney energy may show up differently, but here are some common physical markers.
* Any joint pain, commonly the knees, ankles.
* Sore lower back
* Consistent cold hands and feet
* Reproductive issues
* Premature aging, such as early hair loss
* Urinary problems
* Weakness in the legs, pale complexion, feeling lethargic
* Frequent ear infections, ringing in the ears
An imbalance can also manifest on the emotional level. If we look back to the 5 elements, there is a particular relationship between the water and the fire. This can also be seen as north and south, heaven and earth, and the emotional opposition of joy (love) and fear. If the kidney energy is weak, and the cycle is not moving, we can see either an excess of water or a lack of water, which is unable to control the fire. (This dynamic can also play a role in addictions)
An excess of water can present as extreme yin. The water douses the flame where love resides and we can see a melancholic or depressed state. A lack of will.
A deficiency of water can present as extreme yang. The fire is raging out of control. Here we can see manic behaviors, anxiety, racing thoughts or impulsive actions, difficulty sleeping.
We can restore balance through acupressure, but also with the help of diet and lifestyle choices. To adjust to the season, slow cooked foods are best to warm the interior. Eating mindfully, making sure to chew foods well to facilitate digestion. Eating more simple combinations and reducing or eliminating raw and cold foods in the winter months can all be very supportive. The following food choices can help keep the balance.
Black beans, Mung beans, Kidney beans, Black sesame seeds, Millet, Barley, Lentils, Bone broth soups (can add seaweeds), Oats, Quinoa, chicken and salmon. Think soups and stews!
If having fruits, you can always cook them lightly to make more of a compote. The berries are a great choice for the heart connection. Raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries. Spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, onions, also have a warming effect.
And lastly...the very wise words from our moms...bundle up, it's getting cold out there!!!