Successful Tonics To Boost The Kidneys

The kidneys in Traditional Chinese Medicine are a vital energy system. They are the root of all yin and yang in the body, and they store our essence. They govern growth, reproduction and healthy progression through the different cycles of life. They play a role in healthy aging and preventing lots of age-related decline. They also control the bones, the low back and the knees. On a mental-emotional level, the kidneys are associated with fear – an imbalance in the kidney energy often leads to irrational or pervasive fear. On a spiritual level, the kidneys are the source of our Zhi, or will-power – our drive to succeed, to thrive and to be alive.

So a weakness in the kidney energy can create any number of problems in the body. An accurate diagnosis of a kidney weakness requires evaluation by a practitioner of TCM, but most people can benefit from some kidney tonification, particularly if trying to get pregnant, when healing from a chronic illness and after the age of 65. Chinese Herbs are safe and effective when prescribed by a licensed practitioner. Below are some of the most common tonic herbs we prescribe in TCM to nourish the kidneys.

Shu Di Huang (Rehmannia Root, Chinese Foxglove Root): Shu Di Huang tonifies and nourishes the yin aspect of the kidneys. It also strongly nourishes the blood energy of the body. Shu Di Huang is used in many herbal formulas for insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats and anxiety.

Gou Qi Zi (Chinese Wolfberry Fruit, Goji Berries): Gou Qi Zi nourishes the yin and blood of both the Kidneys and the Liver. It benefits the essence stored in the kidneys, and has a specific function of brightening the eyes. It can be used in the appropriate formulas for issues such as weakness in the low back, trouble sleeping, dizziness, blurry vision, nocturnal emissions and infertility.

He Shou Wu (Polygonum, Fleeceflower Root): He Shou Wu is another herb to nourish the yin and blood of the liver and kidney. It has a specific function of nourishing the hair to prevent premature thinning and graying. It can also be used in formulas for chronic constipation, dizziness, vertigo, blurry vision, infertility or weakness in the low back and knees.

Rou Cong Rong (Broomrape Stem): Rou Cong Rong strengthens the yang aspect of the kidneys, or the source of warm, fiery energy in the body. As such, it is used in formulas for infertility, impotence and urinary disorders such as urinary dribbling or incontinence. It also has a function of moistening the intestines and can be used for certain types of chronic constipation.

Rou Gui (Dried Cinnamon Bark): Rou Gui also strengthens the yang of the kidneys, and warms the kidneys and the channels. It is used in formulas for symptoms such as a deep feeling of cold, cold limbs, weakness in the low back, impotence, frequent urination, chronic pain worse in the cold, wheezing and certain types of menstrual pain.

Most of these herbs need to be prescribed by a licensed practitioner of Chinese herbal medicine. If you want to nourish the kidneys on your own, consider adding Shan Yao (Chinese Yam) into your diet, and picking up some Goji Berries at your local health store. You can also incorporate kidney-nourishing foods into your diet, such as fish, seaweed, miso, kidney beans, black beans and bone broth.

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The Bladder in Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the bladder is one of the six yang organs, paired with one of the six yin organs. The yin organs store vital substances (such as Qi, blood, yin, and yang), whereas the yang organs are more active and have a function of constantly filling and emptying. The bladder is a perfect example of a yang organ. Its main physiological function is to remove water from the body in the form of urine. To do this, the bladder uses Qi (energy) and heat from its paired yin organ, the kidneys.

Obviously urination is an essential component to the functioning of our bodies, and as such, the bladder plays a vital role through its filling and emptying of urine.

However, the bladder system in TCM has far more influence in the body than just over fluid transformation and excretion. As mentioned above, each yang organ is paired with a yin organ, and the bladder is paired with the kidneys. The kidneys are one of the most important energy systems in TCM, they store some of our deepest levels of energy, being the root of all yin and yang in the body and hold our essence. The kidneys often exert an effect on the bladder system when there is a weakness, this means that sometimes problems with the kidney energy can be detected and treated sooner by treating the bladder or the bladder channel. An example is low back pain. The kidneys in TCM govern the low back and the knees. The bladder meridian runs down the length of the back in not one but two trajectories on either side of the spine. Most forms of low back pain can be treated with bladder points on the back, as well as bladder points on the backs of the legs.

In acupuncture, one of the most essential aspects of the bladder channel is treating the back. The bladder channel runs from the inner canthus of the eye, over the top of the head, down the neck and the back on either side of the spine, through the sacrum and down the back of the leg to the knee. Then the channel travels back up to the top of the back and begins its downward trajectory again, tracing another trail down the length of the back, more lateral than the first. It then continues down the back of the leg to the outside of the pinky toe. The bladder channels trajectory makes it a powerful channel for treating most kinds of neck, back, sacral, hamstring, calf and achilles pain. It is particularly helpful when there is a pain condition affecting more than one of these sites.

Every energy system in TCM exerts an effect on both the physical body and the mental/emotional self. The kidneys are associated with fear – this means excessive fear will weaken the kidneys, but irrational fear can also be a symptom of a kidney imbalance. As the bladder is linked to the kidneys, it can be used to support the kidneys in treating fear. When the bladder itself is out of balance, there may be negative emotions such as jealousy, suspicion and inability to let go of grudges.

To take care of the bladder, make sure you drink plenty of non-caffeinated, non-sugary beverages throughout the day to optimize its water transforming function. Eating a kidney-nourishing diet will also help the bladder energy. To keep energy flowing optimally through the bladder meridian, make sure to stretch! Create a daily stretching routine that includes stretches for the whole posterior portion of the body. You might think about including foam rolling, massage, myofascial release, cupping, gua sha or tuina.

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Food as Medicine? Remedy Foods Put to the Test

When you are feeling under the weather, few things are considered more comforting than homemade chicken soup. Food-based health remedies have been used for thousands of years. With modern research and technology, have these foods been proven beneficial to the immune system?


More than just a potent flavor in cooking, garlic has long been valued as a medicinal powerhouse. Garlic was used as a remedy for a wide range of illnesses in ancient India, Egypt, Rome, China, and Japan. The ancient Roman text Naturalis Historia lists 23 uses for garlic, including protection against toxins and infections.

Garlic’s impressive reputation remains strong in modern times. Garlic contains minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, and zinc), vitamins (B1, B2, B5, B6, C), and enzymes that contribute to the overall nutrition that is vital to our health.

Shiitake Mushroom

Traditional Chinese herbalists have known about the medicinal properties of shiitake mushrooms for more than 6,000 years. Emperors of China are said to have eaten this mushroom in great quantities to slow the onset of age.

Modern research shows a connection between the shiitake mushroom and immune system support. A 2014 study found that those who ate shiitake mushrooms every day for four weeks demonstrated increased immunity through an “increase in cell numbers and activation and increased secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) production.”1

How can a tiny fungus be so powerful? These small mushrooms are packed with folate; niacin; pantothenic acid; and vitamins B2, B6, and C. They are also a source of minerals, including magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup

When you have a cold, a steamy bowl of Grandma’s chicken soup is the best medicine, at least according to Grandma. Is it the warmth, extra hydration, and a dash of TLC that make us feel better? Or do the soup’s ingredients help give the immune system the support it needs?

A study by the American College of Chest Physicians points to the soup itself. “Chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity,” the study found.2

While broth and stock have both been purported to have medicinal properties, interest in old-fashioned bone broth has increased recently. For a traditional bone broth, the bones are simmered at least 24 hours to release minerals from the bones into the broth.

According to Sue Howell, DVM, of the Standard Process veterinary technical support team, bone broth is an excellent source of minerals, such as calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. Bone broth also keeps joints healthy, improves poor appetite, increases white and red blood cell production, and supports the immune system.

It looks like Grandma was right … again. Sometimes old wives’ tales and family remedies are handed down for a reason. And when it comes to seasonal immune system challenges, nutrition can be your best defense

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Water: 4 Tips for Staying Hydrated

Water is vital to our survival. Water makes up about 60 percent of our bodies by weight. Fluid must be constantly replenished in order for the body to do its job. Proper hydration helps:

  • Regulate body temperature
  • Assist in flushing bodily waste
  • Metabolize and transport carbohydrates and proteins in the bloodstream
  • Act as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord
  • Lubricate joints
  • Form saliva

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few ways to make sure you are getting enough water.

1. Watch for Signs

Did you know that fatigue could be a sign of dehydration? Next time you are feeling tired, try drinking a big glass of water before you reach for that sugary, caffeine-laden beverage.

Besides fatigue, there are other signs that you may need more water. When you feel thirsty, it is an early sign of dehydration. Feeling hungry? Many times a hunger pang is just the body’s way of asking for a drink of water. Other signs include “brain fog,” dry mouth, lightheadedness, constipation, and muscle cramps. One study even linked dehydration with degraded mood, increased perception of task difficulty, lower ability to concentrate, and headache symptoms.

2. Know How Much

To determine how much water you require each day, divide your body weight in half. The result is the approximate number of water in ounces you should drink daily. So if you weigh 180 pounds, aim for at least 90 ounces of water a day. That’s about 12 cups. This total can vary depending on the climate you live in, the environment, your physical activity level, or other factors. Ask your health care professional to be absolutely sure.

To see how much water you are getting, keep a record of your daily intake or use a smartphone app. Tracking the water you drink might surprise you with how little you are actually getting.

3. Make It a Habit

Get in the habit of drinking water throughout the day and with every meal. Many people find that carrying a water bottle at all times is a great reminder that they need to drink. Water bottles with measurement markings are also handy in adding up how many ounces you are consuming each day.

You can also gain fluids from foods you eat, such as broth soups and foods with high water content like celery, tomatoes, or melons.

4. Add Some Flavor

If plain water is too bland for you, it’s easy to create infused water with fresh ingredients. How does strawberry kiwi mint water sound? Want to try refreshing lemon lavender? Basil cucumber can also hit the spot. Have fun and create your own flavor concoctions with some of these ingredients:

  • Sweet fruits like kiwis, watermelons, strawberries, or melons
  • Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, or oranges
  • Veggies like cucumbers, jalapenos, or celery
  • Herbs like basil, mint, or rosemary

Wash your ingredients (organic if possible). Cut them into chunks or slices as needed, and place those in a pitcher (preferably glass), Mason jar, or even your water bottle before filling the container with water. Place the container in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight to steep. The result is fragrant, flavor-infused water with no added calories, sugar, or artificial flavors or colors.

If you do not drink the infused water within 24 hours, strain the liquid to remove the added ingredients and keep up to three days. Enjoy!

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General nutrition: Are you eating right?

We all need a balanced diet for optimal nutrition, health, and well-being. For many people, however, a healthy diet is hard to achieve.

We spoke with Bruce Bond, DC, DACBN, about the nutritional challenges that many patients face and how supplements can help fill nutritional gaps.*

Q: Why do many people struggle with eating a healthy diet?
A: One of the issues people are faced with today is the lack of time brought on by a busy lifestyle. People are dealing with work, relationships, and obligations, and it’s not always possible to eat right and at the right time. I see patients who eat out way too much, which means they can’t control portion sizes or ingredients the same way they could at home. Many restaurant meals, especially fast food, are highly processed and can be high in calories, carbohydrates, sugar, unhealthy fats, and sodium.

Q: Why is nutrition so important?
A: Your body is made up of trillions of cells. Cells take nutrients from food and convert them into energy. Cells have specialized functions to make what your body needs. If you don’t feed the cells, your body can’t make what it needs.

Q: What do you recommend for patients with poor eating habits?
A: A balanced diet is crucial for overall health. I recommend that my patients eat a wide variety of lean meats, healthy oils, fruits, vegetables, and grains. This is how one obtains beneficial nutrients, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, and fibers.

Q: What if patients just can’t maintain a balanced diet?
A: It is hard for many people to eat right, so I recommend nutritional supplements. General Health Daily Fundamentals packs provide foundational maintenance support. The packets contain Catalyn®, Tuna Omega-3 Oil, and Trace Minerals-B12. The prepackaged formulas are very convenient. Grab a packet to go along with breakfast and a packet with dinner, and you’re good to go.*

Q: Do you recommend herbal support for patients?
A: When I see patients who aren’t eating well, I recognize their immune systems may not have the support they need. MediHerb’s Echinacea Premium supports and promotes healthy white blood cells. Echinacea has many benefits but it is especially beneficial when your system is stressed and you need a healthy immune system response.

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