The highest level of health for a man happens when just the right balance of yin and yang is achieved – leading to proper flow of qi and blood. His body is typically more aligned with yang energy. The ultimate goal is for yang energy to be predominant, but not excessive. If yang were to become excessive it manifests as quick loss of temper, loud speaking, red complexion, undue perspiration and the feeling of being too hot ensues. And if yang were to become deficient it results in unusual fatigue, lack of motivation and excessive coldness.
Chinese medicine teaches that balancing yin and yang energy of the kidney organ system is most crucial for establishing a man’s health. This ensures an optimal quality and quantity of qi within his body. Moreover, the kidneys oversee the aging process and nourish health of the lower back, hair on the head, level of sexual drive and metabolic function. Kidney energy naturally depletes as the body ages therefore it needs to be garnered and protected throughout life. This safeguards balance between kidney yin (water) and kidney yang (fire) and vital organ health.
A man’s plan for optimal health needs to include protecting himself from excessive work habits. Overwork, high stress levels, too much exercise and excessive grief damage kidney yin, which incidentally is at the root of insomnia. Taking care to guard against depletion of kidney yang reduces chance of developing excessive fatigue, low back pain, lack of libido in addition to hair and bone loss.
Chinese medicine designates imbalance of the kidneys to be the root cause of men’s health issues. Preventative and revitalization methods for establishing strong kidney energy include Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, Chinese food therapy and the Chinese exercises of tai chi and qigong.
Dietary recommendations to protect and maintain proper yin yang balance of kidney energy includes eating more warming foods, as consuming too many cold raw foods dwindles kidney yang. Therefore, choose foods such as oatmeal, soups, a wide variety of cooked vegetables, rice or potato along with a small amount of meat, beans, seeds or nuts. Aduki beans are reputed for strengthening the kidney. They can be soaked in water overnight and cooked with brown rice for a delicious meal. The water the beans were soaked in can be saved, heated up and taken as a broth. Adding a little bit of naturally fermented soy sauce (tamari) to the broth directs its healing properties to the kidneys. This is based on the Law of the Five Elements which designates salty as the flavor that nourishes the kidneys. Additional foods reputed for strengthening the kidneys include salmon, oysters, clams, shrimp, lobster, black beans, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, bee pollen, cauliflower, seaweed in addition to bone broth or marrow. It is also essential to drink plenty of water at room temperature - with appropriate number of glasses each day determined by dividing one’s weight into half and then dividing that number by eight.
In terms of lifestyle, it is helpful for men to express emotions and talk about their feelings. Self-expression keeps energy flowing freely throughout the body and mind, helping to release internal angst and replace it with inner calm. Regular expression of feelings prevents their building up and causing damage to the vital organs. For example, continually being fearful about work performance or money concerns injures the energetics of the kidney. The most important thing is to talk it out to release the pressure gauge.
It is further important to take care not to overindulge in sexual activity as it depletes kidney energy. And avoid dwelling in a cold environment for the same reason. Getting plenty of exercise and fresh air is also helpful for strengthening lung capacity and increasing oxygenation and movement of the blood. Adequate rest and relaxation is a must, along with laughing and having fun in life. Getting to bed and rising early provides benefit as well.
Chinese medicine techniques support men’s health through nourishing qi and blood, decreasing excess, strengthening vital organ function and promoting balance between yin and yang. They have been used throughout the centuries helping men alleviate neck, back and knee pain, relieve muscular tension, reduce inflammation or enlargement of their prostate, mitigate urinary frequency, reduce low sperm count or poor morphology as well as provide help for premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Each of these symptoms are early warning signals that the kidney energy is waning in addition to an existing yin yang imbalance – calling for intervention to rebalance and strengthen the body. The best approach is to follow right living habits and make prevention a number one priority. This will allow a man to live their life with gusto, while staying mindful of maintaining balancing in every endeavor.
Shoshanna Katzman, L.Ac., M.S. is an acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist and director of Red Bank Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Shrewsbury, NJ for thirty years. She has taught tai chi and qigong for almost 45 years and is a 6th generation lineage holder of the Guang Ping Yang Style Tai Chi Form. Shoshanna is author of Qigong for Staying Young: A Simple 20-Minute Workout to Cultivate Your Vital Energy and co-author of Feeling Light: The Holistic Solution to Permanent Weight Loss and Wellness (www.qigong4.us). For more information call 732-758-1800 or visit www.healing4u.com.
This article appears in the May 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings Magazine Monmouth Ocean edition. Click here to subscribe, thanks :)