Being Kind to Your Kidneys
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs that sit either side of the spine to the back of the abdominal cavity. They are multi-talented and powerhouses of activity being responsible for a range of important bodily functions like waste excretion where they filter out toxins, excess salts and urea.
They also balance out water levels in the body by producing urine, regulate blood pressure and maintain our acid base or ph. Apart from all these very important functions that help to keep us alive, in Chinese medicine, the kidneys are seen as the root and foundation of the body.
They rule the sexual organs and provide energy and warmth. They are also very closely related to adrenal function since the adrenals are located directly on top of the kidneys and produce secretions that are crucial for the activities of the kidneys.
The kidney and adrenals are said to rule the emotion of fear and someone with healthy kidneys will be active yet calm, courageous but gentle and accomplish activities without stress and by restoring the kidneys to good health, “one will feel a tremendous elation as the dark cloud of fear lifts”, according to Paul Pitchford in Healing with Whole Foods .
Hmmm! Sounds like we could all do with a little kidney tonic! Other symptoms of deficient kidneys, apart from the emotional ones of agitation, nervousness and fear, are chronic urinary tract infections, backache, and weak legs.
Some people may experience cold extremities, pale complexion, weak knees, lack of sexual desire, and be inactive, indecisive and unproductive! When you consider that the kidneys and the adrenals are a very good indicator of our overall energy and health, we gain an understanding of their importance.
In Chinese medicine the deeper essence of the kidneys is called Jing and this is stored in the kidneys. It determines our vitality, resistance to disease and longevity.
Tips to help restore and tonify the kidneys by maintaining and building the kidney jing:
- Include chlorella, spirulina, blue-green algae and wheat-grass in the diet (except for those who are excessively cold and thin). The powder can be added to fresh juice or tablets taken daily. These foods protect the body from degeneration.
- Omega 3’s – organic flaxseed oil, 1-2 dessertspoons a day with food, helps brain function, is anti-inflammatory as well as restoring kidney jing.
- Vitamin B 12 – best in tablet form for growth and development.
- Ghee or clarified butter improves the assimilation of nutrients.
- Nettles, either steamed as a food, or taken as a herbal tea or tonic, enriches the blood and is especially useful in pregnancy where the kidneys are filtering for the baby as well as the mum.
- Rehmannia is one of my favourite herbs to tonify the kidneys and to help adrenal function. It is considered to be essential for nephritis and can be taken as a tea or a tonic.
- Other specific foods to tonify the kidneys are black beans (cook with seaweed and a little sea salt), millet, whole wheat, black sesame seeds, black soybeans, chestnuts, mulberries, raspberries, strawberries and walnuts.
- If urinary tract infections are a problem, a tonic of Uva Ursi, Golden Seal, Marshmallow, Buchu and Echinacea will treat the acute symptoms while a good probiotic, nettle tea and rehumannia tonic will help to prevent infections. Cranberry tablets are also extremely beneficial for prevention.
Factors, which deplete kidney jing:
- Stress, fear, insecurity and overwork.
- Sexual excesses and women bearing too many children.
- Toxins in food and water.
- Drugs and alcohol
- Heavy metals - mercury, lead and aluminium.
- Too much sugar in the diet.
- Excessive protein in the diet.