Chinese medicine teaches us that the human energy system is comprised of twelve major organ systems that work together to perform essential bodily functions. The main function of these twelve organs is to receive air, food and fluid from the external environment and transform it into vital substances, along with expelling waste. The vital substances produced are then circulated as nutritional support to every tissue and system of the body. Each organ system is directly associated with the primary meridian (energy pathway) of the same name. For example, the kidney organ system is connected to the kidney meridian.
Every organ contains its own form of qi which is influenced by thinking, feeling, hormonal flow and metabolic activity. This provides a basic paradigm from which a Chinese medicine practitioner views the body and chooses an appropriate treatment approach. This typically involves rebalancing energy flowing through the meridian pathways to create optimal flow and health within the vital organs. The modalities employed include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese dietary therapy, tui na massage as well as tai chi and qigong exercise.
As provider of root energy to all other organs, the kidney organ system is pivotal to creating overall health. According to the Five Elements, the kidney is associated with the water element. It serves to rule water and provides the foundation for movement and transformation of all bodily fluids. The kidney energy system is also in charge of growth, development, reproduction, and regeneration. And it helps to regulate metabolism, excretion, immunity and sexual potency.
Another key function of the kidney involves producing marrow and controlling development and repair of bones. Upon doing so, marrow fills and nourishes the brain and spinal cord leading to strong memory, mental clarity and spinal health. Health of the kidney is further reflected in the ears and on the hair of the head. It also supports the normal breathing process by “grasping qi” from the lungs during inhalation.
Furthermore, the kidney provides the source of fire for the entire body, housed within a special energy point known as ming men or governing vessel 4 – located between the kidneys on the low back and referred to as the “gate of vitality.” Deficiency of kidney fire results in symptoms such as fatigue, lack of vitality, depression and feeling cold. The following exercise is done on a daily basis to stoke fire of the kidney and strengthen vitality.
Kidney Rub for Life
With your fists closed loosely, rub the back of your hands over your lower back until the area feels warm, even hot. At the same time, use the intention of your mind to circulate energy in your kidneys. Continue the rubbing down the center and backs of both legs (along your bladder meridian), over the sides of then over the tops of your feet, up the insides of your legs (along the kidney meridian), over your hips and to your lower back once again. Repeat over and over for approximately three minutes.
This is just one of many techniques used in Chinese medicine to invigorate the kidney energetic field. Due to the kidney being the first to feel effects of stress, keeping its energy strong and balanced is paramount for lessening chance for extreme stress becoming a constant heightened state of alert - known as a fight-or-flight syndrome. In addition, strong kidney energy provides the will and effort necessary to bring life goals and aspirations to fruition. And it houses “the spirit of zhi” which empowers one through self-knowledge and inner resolve. It’s no wonder that the kidney organ system is traditionally known as the “minister of power” and hailed as the most important reservoir of essential energy within the body.
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 August 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings Magazine Monmouth Ocean edition. Click here to subscribe, thanks :)