In TCM or traditional Chinese medicine in Palm Harbor, winter is the season for the bladder and kidneys organs and for the element of Water. Western medicine considers the kidney as the organ responsible for detoxifying and filtering toxins and impurities from the body. The human kidney has thousands of tiny tubules andblood capillaries that provide a huge surface area for the elimination of waste products and the re-absorption of essential nutrients. The waste substances eventually turn into urine that builds up in the kidney and goes down the bladder.
The TCM Concept of the Kidneys
According to TCM, the kidneys are the organs where jing, a form of energy or vital force, is contained. The quantity and quality of jing is preordained from birth and will determine our constitution. Be that as it may, we can increase the amount of our jing by relaxing and getting adequate rest and by taking care of our kidneys. Above the kidneys are where the adrenal glands are located and these glands work closely with the kidneys to maintain mineral, water, and sugar balance. To help the body adapt when a person is under stress, the adrenals trigger a series of chemical reactions to stabilize the person.
However, there is also such a thing as positive stress. This is the kind of stress that drives the body and provides it with a boost of energy. But when stress is prolonged, it may over-stimulate the kidneys and adrenal glands resulting in wear and tear. This can be likened to pressing the accelerator of a car that eventually often results to the wearing out of the car’s mechanical components.
The Water element is associated with the emotion of Fear, which can have a debilitating effect on the adrenal glands and kidneys. Fear obstructs the movement of energy affecting physical vitality.
The best time for nurturing and conserving our internal energy reserves within the kidneys is during winter, which can prepare us for the months ahead, like a hibernating bear! If any of the following symptoms manifest, light kidney support and cleansing is especially important:
- Tightness along the spine and in the backs of legs or weak knees or legs;
- Bed wetting or weak bladder;
- Urinary infections;
- Puffiness and swelling and especially under the eyes or ankles and legs;
- Sensitivity to cold, weak circulation;
- Panic, phobias;
- Ringing in the ears, hearing problems;
- Fertility problems;
- Fatigue and exhaustion;
- Excess thirst;
- A lack of or excess perspiration;
- Dry eyes;
- Black/dark blue circles under eyes;
- Thinning, dry or brittle hair;
- Brittle bones;
- High blood pressure;
- Asthma (this type of asthma is caused by the kidneys’ inability to retain energy sent from the lungs. The energy instead goes upwards in the body resulting in breathing difficulties);
- Feeling overwhelmed by life, anxiety;
A lot of the above symptoms are related to fluid issues, for instance, excess wetness or dryness. Swelling or bloating can indicate obstructions to the flow. The Water Element is all about going with the flow emotionally and physically.
Foods the Nourish the Kidneys
- Wholegrains: These include buckwheat or brown rice: They help the kidneys by maintaining water balance and helping with detoxification. Wholegrain provides bulk to absorb toxins and have the ability to hold large amounts of fluid. Aside from that, they are high in B vitamins which can be depleted during a stress reaction.
- Warm foods that support the bladder and kidney: Soups and casseroles are specifically recommended;
- Seaweed: For the water element, seaweed is a supportive food due to its direct connection to the sea. Seaweed is rich in natural sodium which does not overwork kidney function. It is sometimes called sea vegetable. Dried seaweed can be sprinkled into food and can make a nutritious condiment. Try dried wakame or nori over rice dishes or crumble them to salads, casseroles or soups;
- Green leafy vegetables and red peppers: These foods are replete with vitamin C which the adrenal glands essentially crave for;
- Magnesium rich foods: They are very important to the adrenal glands and kidneys. Magnesium rich foods include bananas, oats, millet, soy bean, chick peas, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, and brazil nuts.
- Kidney beans: Because of their shape, these beans have a special connection with the kidneys.
- Green tea and jasmine tea: They are known to eliminate dampness in the body which tax the kidneys. Drinking plain hot water can also work for this;
- Cranberries: They have a detoxifying effect on the bladder and kidneys. They can prevent and treat urinary infections by stopping bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Go for a concentrated herbal fluid extract and for a drink that does not use sugar;
- Cold pressed oils: Use liberal amounts of these oils but do not add to hot foods or heat them. Cold pressed oils include sesame oil, walnut oil, olive oil, and flax oil. They are made up of anti-stress essential fatty acids.
- Natural diuretics: Natural diuretics such as dandelion (tea), asparagus and celery, can help cleanse out toxins from the kidneys. Another a strong kidney cleanser is Juniper;
- Beetroot: This is a fantastic kidney cleanser. You can purchase the cooked variety that has not been soaked in vinegar, eat raw beetroot grated onto salads, or drink its juice;
- Aduki beans
Regular meals that include a little protein can prevent the adrenal glands from being overworked by drops of blood sugar. To avoid weakness and depletion and conserve kidney energy during working hours, regular breaks are necessary.
Foods that Overwork the Bladder and Kidneys
- Caffeine: They tend to over-stimulate the kidneys and adrenal glands. If you don’t want to experience unwanted withdrawal symptoms, gradually limit stimulants and sugar rather than all at once.
- Too much sweet foods: As the kidneys can only manage processing a limited amount of sugar, these foods can overburden the kidneys. Chinese medicine considers sweet foods as damp-producing foods that are harmful to the kidneys. Excess salt and sugar can trigger a stress reaction. Salt is especially harmful to the adrenal glands and kidneys;
- Too much raw foods: Fruits and salads can cool the body temperature and create internal dampness. They should be minimally eaten during the cold winter months. During this time vegetables should be stir fried or slow cooked in soups and casseroles, roasted or steamed in olive oil, or lightly boiled in minimum water.