In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we try to live within each season. By this I mean that we eat according to where we live and the time of year, we sleep according to the amount of hours in a day, we dress according to the weather. We live in harmony with nature adjusting as the seasons change. Now each season is associated with an organ system in TCM. Winter is associated with our kidneys. In western medicine the kidneys play the role of maintaining the composition of blood by removing waste and excess water. In TCM the kidneys have a broader range of functions; its the organ system of growth, maturation, sexuality, fertility, and aging. The kidneys also govern the body’s bones and marrow; and is connected with the ears.
What does this all mean for your health? Winter is a yin season; its cold, dark, slower energy. As opposed to summer (yang energy) which of course is the opposite. In winter we should be supporting the yin and subduing the yang. By harmonizing ourselves with nature and the seasons we can potentially prevent illness and live healthier. How would you know if your kidney energy may have an imbalance? Due to the physical location of the kidneys it is often linked to sore lower back, knees or ankle and feet issues. Weak bones and bone diseases such as osteoporosis can be related to the kidneys. Some other signs of a kidney imbalance are; gray hair, loss of hearing, urinary issues, loss of skin elasticity, sexual issues, infertility and tooth problems.
Tips for healthy Kidneys
Reduce stress. Stress affects our kidneys. Find ways to reduce stress by meditating, walking, yoga or tai chi.
Find balance between yin and yang. You can do this by spending equal time doing slow meditative activities and exciting, stimulating activities.
Resolve any issues that make you fearful. Try finding peace or resolutions for changes in your life that make you uncomfortable.
Try adding foods that support your kidneys. Eat more dark foods; black beans, black sesame seeds, black walnuts. Add more seafood. The kidneys are associated with water, so anything that lives in water will help strengthen them; Shellfish, shrimp, clams, mussels or lobster.
Try acupuncture. An acupuncturist has a number of tools to help strengthen your kidney organ system. Acupuncture, herbs, diet plans and lifestyle recommendations.
Lastly, Rub your ears everyday for 5 minutes. The ears are the sensory organ connected to the kidneys. By stimulating and warming them you can greatly enhance your kidney and overall health.
Originally published Jan 1, 2019