Where do the hormones responsible for development come from? Why do we age? How can a person stay youthful? Can osteoporosis be halted or even reversed? Can we reduce wrinkles on the face? For someone who always has a lower hormone level with chronic fatigue, what’s the best solution? What causes bone spurs? Can degenerative arthritis (Osteoarthritis) be healed, and can bone be regenerated? What’s the best treatment for infertility? 

All these questions are frequently raised questions which have long bothered both patients and doctors. Actually, all these seemingly unrelated health issues are related with one organ — the Kidneys. The Kidneys are like the batteries in our body, they should be kept charged, because we use them all the time. So long as the “vehicle” (human body) runs, the batteries are constantly discharging.. So, our Kidneys are extremely important. Let’s see in detail how kidneys are related with our life and health. 

1.Kidneys store the fundamental essence of human life. 

Before we were born, our lives were formed by the essence of our parents. After we are born, we live on food, and the essence is stored in our kidneys, serving the needs of our human body and all its major activities, such as thinking, working, growth, development and many more. 

2.Kidneys are related with human development

Human development is promoted by growth hormone (HGH). From infancy to toddler to puberty and adolescence, hormone is the key material which determines the velocity and health condition in each period. When one reaches the 50s, the hormone levels drop down dramatically, leading to menopause and progressive aging.  Every seven years is one hormonal cycle for a female, eight years for a male, hormone drops down at the age of 49 (7×7) for most females, and 64 (8×8) for male. HGH is generated in kidneys, and it is stored in the kidneys as well. As everybody might know, calcium levels determine the quality of the bones. But only taking calcium cannot treat osteoporosis. Herbs for strengthening kidneys, however, can improve the calcium level dramatically. This is why strengthening the kidneys can treat osteoporosis; this has been supported in clinical practice. 

3.Kidneys are related with breathing. 

According to <Nei Jing>, the holy book of Chinese medicine, lungs controls breathing, kidneys controls intake of breathing (grasping of the Qi). In other words, when one breathes, lungs are the machine for executing the motion of breathing, but the kidneys are the ones in charge of helping the lungs hold the air/oxygen. If kidneys are weak, one cannot make a full inhalation. This is the reason why for someone suffering from asthma, we can’t only treat the lungs; we have to strengthen kidneys at the same time. This makes the treatment much more effective.

4.Kidneys support digestion 

Digestion is performed in the stomach and intestines, but the energy support originates from one of the kidneys (specifically the right kidney). This is just like cooking, we cook with a pot (stomach), but we also need fire (kidney). If the right kidney is weak, digestion is incomplete, and the person will have diarrhea. So, loose stools and frequent bowel movements may actually be signs of kidney deficiency. Amazingly, in these cases, tonifying kidney energy is the quickest way to stop diarrhea and loose stools. 

5.Kidney dominates human reproduction

Like a seed which holds the potential of an entire plant, the kidney system in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) forms the basis of reproduction in humans. This is important, as the abundance in kidney essence drives the maturation of reproductive capabilities during adolescent years, when females face the onset of menstruation and males undergo an increase in size of their genitals and experience their first ejaculation. These changes provide humans with the capacity to reproduce. Kidney essence may be depleted by late 30s or early 40s, depending on the individual, bringing on the onset of pre-menopause and the ability to conceive diminishes.

From the TCM perspective, primary fertility issues are most commonly linked to the deficiency in the kidneys. While Western medicine may say that you have low progesterone levels, a TCM diagnosis may refer it as a deficiency in kidney yang. It is a different way of saying similar things, just from different medical perspectives. In our clinical practice, the success rate for treating infertility is greater than 65%. 

6.Bone and hair health

The brilliance of the kidneys’ health is said to manifest in our hair. If both kidney essence and blood are abundant, our hair receives sufficient nourishment and appears lustrous, healthy, and thick. A deficiency in kidney essence and blood will result in dry, brittle, and dull hair. Selecting foods and herbs beneficial to kidney health can result in healthy and lustrous hair growth. Such foods include black soybean, black sesame seeds, black fungus, fleece flower root, privet seeds, Goji berry, all kinds of nuts (especially walnuts, pecans, and cashews), etc. Since hair is made of protein, it may be wise to also include high protein foods like tofu and beans into your diet.

Hair thinning and “greying” at a relatively young age can be a source of concern and embarrassment – and the stress of modern life are causing more and more people to suffer from early hair loss. These worrying conditions can be relieved, but only by treating the underlying health-related problems that cause them.

Bone health is also closely associated to the function of kidney essence. The essence is able to transform into bone marrow which is responsible for nourishing bone structures to support their growth and repair processes. A deficiency in kidney essence can lead to brittle bones and stunted growth in children, as well as osteoporosis in the elderly.

The kidney is the most fundamental organ system of your body, which holds the genetic blueprint of your inherent body constitution and how healthy you will be. Whether you have kidney yin or yang deficiency, it is essential to trace back to the kidneys’ reserves and address the issue immediately. Seeking the right balance between work and rest can ensure the kidneys get enough time for recuperation.

7.Kidneys are related with our brain

Kidneys store the essence of our body, which can be transformed to bone, bone marrow, and blood. Our brain is full of marrow. In TCM, we give the brain another name–the sea of marrow. Excessive thinking uses up a lot of energy from the brain. This is especially true for people in high-demand careers as engineering, designing, CEOs, etc. Ideally, they need extra “recharge” for the kidneys, but 99% of the people don’t do this. Regular exercise is not a sufficient recharge; we need to supply energy specifically to the kidneys. This can be achieved through exercises such as Taichi and Qigong. 

Besides the functions mentioned above, kidneys are also related with ears, teeth, lower back, genital, anus, saliva, libido, immunity, blood regeneration, and body temperature, etc.  

Briefly, we can summarize the basic functions of the energy in kidneys:

A. Kidney Jing (Essence) — material for sperm, eggs, ovulation, blood, etc. 

B. Kidney Qi — fundamental energy for the human body and its basic functions, including walking, working, thinking, etc.

C. Kidney Yin origin of body fluids, including saliva, liquid for membranes, such as genital region, nasals, eyes, etc. 

D. Kidney Yang — power & temperature. Kidney Yang deficiency leads to cold limbs, low immunity making it easy to catch cold/flu; poor sexual performance, enuresis, frequent urination, urinary urgency, etc.