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Kidney Properties

The Huang Ti Nei Ching (The Yellow Emperor's Medicine Classic) states: "Kidneys control the storage of essence, so they are also the root for sealing up substances and storing them." The kidneys possess sealing and astringent (consolidating) properties. These properties allow them to gather and hold on to substances such as essence. If the essence leaked out freely, there would not be sufficient amounts for all the bodily functions that rely on it. Inherent fire (part of inherited or primordial kidney yang) that is kept in the kidney should also be hidden and not be over exposed. The simultaneous storing of the primordial fire and primordial water (part of primordial or inherited kidney yin) means the kidneys provide a place for the essence (yin) to motivate the power of our human vitality (yang). Only the kidneys' sealing and astringent properties can prevent them form escaping and extinguishing their existence. Therefore, the kidneys are not suitable to carry out dispersing and expelling functions.

Clinically, most kidney diseases are due to a deficiency of some sort and present as an asthenia syndrome. Tonification is the usual method of treatment for deficiencies because it tries to replace the missing elements in the body. However this is not absolute, sometimes a sthenia syndrome can be the cause of a kidney problem. Sthenia syndrome, which is the opposite of asthenia syndrome, occurs when there is a strong body resistance to fight off exogenous evils. Fever is a common symptom with a sthenia syndrome. In this case, a reducing method is applied to help decrease the body's resistance. It is not uncommon to have sthenia symptoms in a deficiency state. Remedies for replenishing vital energy (qi) and expelling the pathogens or evils are generally used in these instances. It is important to weigh the predominant symptoms carefully when generating a diagnosis and apply the correct treatment method to avoid further deterioration.


Since the kidneys affect so many vital bodily functions, maintaining their health is an essential part of disease prevention in Chinese medicine. Retaining youth and vitality is also closely linked with good kidney functioning. This is why the kidneys' importance in health maintenance cannot be overlooked.


Written By:
Prof. Zou Yanquan
Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing TCM University
National Medical Center of TCM Kidney Disease

Angela Collingwood MSN, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.
Jennifer Eagleton, BA & MA (Asian Studies), Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.
Rose Tse, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.