Kidneys physiology - Kathleen Leavy Website

OPP 101 Kidney Physiology
Fall 2010
 The Kidneys are considered the foundation for all the Yin & Yang energies of the
 Kidney Yin is the material foundation for Kidney Yang
 Kidney Yang is the physiological activity that transforms Kidney Yin
 When there is a deficiency of one of these energies, it will inevitably cause a
deficiency in the other (although there will never be an equal 50% deficiency of
each). For this reason it is important to address both Kidney Yin & Yang
deficiency with treatment (especially when using herbs)
 Kidney symptoms will frequently involve the low back, knees, feet, urination,
sexual/reproductive functioning, and deficiency
A. Functions
1. Stores Essence (Jing) and Governs birth, growth, development & reproduction
a. Pre-Heaven Essence
 The inherited Essence that nourishes the fetus and governs
birth, growth, development & reproduction
 Determines are basic constitutional strength and vitality
 Is the material foundation for the sperm, ova and menstrual
blood (Tian Gui)
b. Post-Heaven Essence
 The refined Essence that is from the food we eat
c. Kidney Essence
 Made up of both the Pre and Post-Heaven Essences
 Aging is considered a decline in Essence
 Determines the 7 & 8 year cycles of life in women and men,
 Associated with the times of hormonal changes in Western
medicine (puberty, during and after pregnancy, menopause)
2. Produces Marrow, nourishes the brain & controls bones
 Essence is the organic foundation for the production of Marrow
 Marrow is the common matrix that links bones, bone marrow,
brain & spinal cord
 Because Kidney Essence produces Marrow, they also have a
strong physiological connection with the brain (they influence
memory, concentration, thinking, sight, skill & intelligence)
 The brain and spinal cord are referred to as the ‘Sea of
 One of the ways the Kidneys influence the production of Blood
is through the bone marrow
 Teeth are considered an extension of bone, so the Kidneys play
an important role in the condition of ones teeth
3. Governs Water
 The Kidneys (Yang) are like a gate that controls the flow of
Body Fluids in the Lower Jiao (Burner) via urination and the
separation of clean and dirty fluids in the Intestines
OPP 101 Kidney Physiology
Fall 2010
The Kidneys (Yang) provides the Bladder with the Qi
necessary to store, transform and excrete urine
 The Lower Jiao (Burner) is often compared to a drainage ditch
 The Kidneys (Yang) provides the Spleen with the Qi necessary
to perform its function transforming and transporting Body
 The Lungs descend fluids down to the Kidneys which, upon
receiving them, excretes some and also vaporizes some back up
to the Lungs in order to keep them moist
Controls the reception of Qi
 The Kidneys work with the Lungs in ‘grasping’ the Qi; they
have a strong influence on inhalation (when one has asthma
with difficulty inhaling it indicates the Kidney are not
‘grasping’ the Qi)
Opens into the ears
 The ears rely on the Kidneys for nourishment and proper
 It’s interesting to note that the shape of the ear resembles a
Manifests in the hair
 The Kidney Essence (as well as Liver Blood) nourish the hair
 If Kidney Essence is good, then the hair will be thick, lustrous
and have good color
 If Kidney Essence is weak, then the hair may be thin, brittle,
gray or balding
Controls spittle
 Spittle is thick and more turbid than saliva
 It functions to lubricate the back of the mouth and throat and is
thought to be an expression of the Kidney Essence
Controls the two lower orifices
 The Kidneys provide the Bladder with the Qi necessary to
transform urine and transport it through the urethra
 Since sperm a manifestation of Kidney Essence, the spermatic
duct is related to the Kidneys
 Since a deficiency of the Kidneys could cause diarrhea or even
incontinence of stool, the anus is also related to the Kidneys
Houses the Zhi (Will-power)
 The Zhi resides in the Kidneys and is responsible for willpower, drive, determination and constancy
 Bl-52 is the outer Shu point for the Kidneys and has a specific
influence on strengthening ones will-power
 Endogenous depression usually stems from an underlying
Kidney Yang deficiency (Dr. Hammer) and is likely associated
with the lack of motivation from a weak Zhi
OPP 101 Kidney Physiology
Fall 2010
The Kidneys and the Zhi also influence memory and
10. Controls the Ming Men (Gate of Life)
a. The main functions of the Ming Men
 The Root of the Yuan (Source; Original) Qi
 The source of physiological Fire for all the Zang-Fu
 Warms the Lower Jiao (Burner) and Bladder
 Warms the Stomach & Spleen to aid digestion
 Harmonizes the sexual function and warms the Essence and
 Assists the Kidneys’ function of ‘grasping’ Qi
 Assists the Heart function of housing the Shen
11. Other Kidney Relationships
a. Smell: putrid
 Like the smell of stagnant water
 Often sensed in the elderly indicating a Kidney
b. Color: black; blue; dark gray
c. Taste: salty
d. Climate: Cold
 Cold will often come from or aggravate a Kidney Yang
e. Sound: groaning
 A voice that sounds low, deep, somewhat raspy and hoarse is
often associated with a Kidney deficiency
 It is common to hear this sound in one’s voice after
overworking and inadequate rest
12. Sayings
a. ‘The Kidneys control opening and closing’
 With regards to the two lower orifices (urethra and anus)
b. ‘The Kidneys control strength and skill’
c. ‘The Kidneys are the Root of Pre-Heaven Qi’
 Pre-Heaven Qi is derived from Pre-Heaven Essence and
replenished by Post-Heaven Essence
 Since the Kidneys store the Essence, they are ‘the Root of PreHeaven Qi’
d. ‘The Kidneys loathe dryness’
 Dryness will injure the Yin and Body Fluids
 Since Kidney Yin is the Root of all Yin in the body, dryness
will eventually injure the foundational Yin of the Kidneys
e. ‘ The Kidneys are the Gate of the Stomach’
 Since the Stomach is the origin of all fluids and the Kidneys
transform and excrete fluids, the Kidneys are said to be the
‘Gate of the Stomach’
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