Winter Health: Maintaining Strong Kidney Qi

Winter Solstice Greetings to you All!

As we enter the true winter I want to speak to you about kidney qi. In traditional Chinese medical theory, the wintertime is ruled by the kidneys. The kidney qi is responsible for ruling the bones, bone marrow, brain, adrenal glands, reproductive organs, hearing, memory, sex drive, motivation, low back and longevity. As you can see, it has a huge job to do and is considered to be the wellspring from which our health bubbles forth. If you were a house, the foundation would be the kidneys. Here in the U.S., when someone greets you, we typically say: ” Hello, how are you?” In China, their greeting translates to: “How’s your kidney qi?”

Kidney qi is our life force and can be easily squandered. Stress, overwork, overdoing, over thinking, not enough rest, not enough sleep, frequent male ejaculation, sex without orgasms for women, too much time in front of a computer and T.V. screens, cell phones, recycled air, too much time indoors, drugs, living or working in a stressful environment, media stress and violence, commuting, your body being cold or your food being too raw and cold for the season etc. You get the picture! All these factors contribute to the decline of kidney qi. Activities and people that make you feel happy and energized are good for you, while those that make you feel tired and stressed or drained are not. It’s very important to watch for these feelings and act accordingly.

As mammals we are currently in hibernation season, yet we rarely seem to slow down at this time. If anything, the frantic pace escalates to a fevered pitch as we party, travel, spend money (that we often don’t have), stay up late, consume vast amounts of rich food and libations, worry about how we’re going to get it all done, afford it, not gain the average seasonal 5-10 lbs., wonder what we’re going to say to the relatives, how the children will act and last but not least, What To Wear?!!!

What can be done to counteract this depleting set of circumstances we call “modern life”?

Here are 12 things you can do this year to protect your kidney qi:

  1. Get enough rest. Napping is your best friend, as is a good nights sleep. It is impossible to regenerate without it.
  2. Go outside for at least a few minutes every day. While you’re out there, breathe deeply and calm your mind.
  3. Meditate in your fashion, what ever that might be, for at least few minutes every day.
  4. Include activities in your life on a regular basis that nourish and inspire you such as gardening, singing, painting, tinkering, puttering, arts, crafts, building projects, hiking, camping etc. Do whatever inspires and relaxes you.
  5. Make space for yourself on your busy to do list! Put yourself on your schedule and don’t cancel!
  6. Exercise, especially yoga, tai chi, qi gong and walking are all very good for rebuilding kidney qi. No matter what kind of exercise you do, if you feel energized afterwards then it’s building you up. If you feel tired afterwards and like you need to rest, it is breaking you down. The type and intensity of your workout needs to be able to adapt to the season.
  7. Men: consider learning how to control your ejaculation and to separate orgasm from ejaculation.. Women: consider learning how to be orgasmic or how to use orgasmic energy as healing energy. For both men and women there are many great books and videos on the subject. You can find books on the subject written by Mantak Chia, and you can go on line to for on-line info and video. You can also speak to me about these healing practices when you come in for your treatments.
  8. Eat more cooked and warm foods rather than cold and raw foods. The kidneys love bones, bone soup, seeds, nuts, eggs, beans, oysters, seaweed and root veggies. Make lots of soups and stews with those ingredients at this time of year.
  9. Keep warm. The bottom of your feet is the place where the kidney meridian begins. It pulls up qi from the earth into itself to give you life force. If it’s chilled, it feels insulted and doesn’t work well. The same goes for your center. Having space between the bottom of your shirt and the top of your pants may look really sexy, but it depletes your qi. If your center is cold it impairs women’s fertility.
  10. Try to limit the amount of time you’re in personal or work environments that stress you. Consider both environmental and personal stress when evaluating any given situation. Perhaps it’s time for a heart to heart in order to clear the air with a loved one, tell your boss how you really feel or change your hours at work so that you don’t have to commute during rush hour?
  11. Stay hydrated. Both our bodies and the Mother Earth are 70% water! Tea, milk, juice and coffee DON’T count! Your body is not 70% Earl Grey!
  12. Acupuncture and herbs are ideally suited for rebuilding and supporting kidney qi. This is the cornerstone of Chinese medicine. Consider getting treated and taking herbs. The frequency of your visits will depend on your individual needs. We can talk about it. Especially consider a treatment program if you’re trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, postpartum, peri-menopausal, too stressed, have insomnia, or experience loss of sex drive, pre-mature ejaculation, hair loss, prostate problems, bladder problems, back pain, tinnitus, hearing issues, memory issues, adrenal burn-out, and feel like you’re aging pre-maturely or want to keep going at the pace you’re at and know that you need support to keep it up so that the above list doesn’t apply to you in a few years time!

I encourage all of us to spend some time thinking about how we can be healthier and happier in a year’s time than we are now. I hope that in the coming year I can be a part of your healing journey. Tune-ups around Solstices, Equinoxes and Cross-Quarters are a great way to stay in touch with the natural rhythms of the Earth and stay in harmony and balance with ourselves. Have a great year!

With Much Love and Respect,

Laurel Brody L.Ac.