In Chinese Medicine the kidneys are associated with the season of winter and they represent the foundational essence/energy of the body. Winter is considered to be of the most yin aspect and is an important time to nourish, support, and strengthen the kidneys.
This is a time when we can turn inward, self reflect, meditate, and prepare ourselves for the next season. Activities of inner reflection and nourishing the soul support us in preserving our jing, the foundational energy stored in our kidneys.
The functions of the kidneys in Chinese medicine:
- Stores essence and governs birth, growth, reproduction and development
- Controls the gate of life (minister fire)
- Produces marrow, fill up the brain and control bones
- Houses the Zhi, which is associated with will power
- Governs water
- Control the reception of Qi
- Open into the ears
- Manifest in the hair
- Controls the two lower orfices
A Little Background About The Five Elements:
The theory of the five elements and their application to medicine marked the beginning of “scientific” medicine and departure from shamanism; a time when healers no longer looked for supernatural causes of disease and started observing nature to interpret disease. The five elements are water, fire, wood, metal, and earth. They symbolize qualities and states of natural phenomena.
Five Element Associations Of Water:
- Yin organ – Kidneys
- Yang organ – Bladder
- Season – Winter
- Element – Water
- Cycle – Storage
- Climate – Cold
- Color – Black
- Orfice – Ear
- Sense – Hearing
- Tissue – Bones
- Taste – Salty
- Voice characteristic – Groaning
- Emotion – Fear
- Virtue – Wisdom
- Spirit – Zhi/Will
Practices to support the kidneys:
- Drink plenty of water, not enough water harms the kidneys
- Don’t overdo it, take time to rest and rejuvenate, anything in excess harms the kidneys
- Limit your intake of salt, too much salt harms the kidneys
- Manage your stress, excess stress harms the kidneys
- If there is something in life you’ve been avoiding or fearful of evaluate it and work through it, prolonged and intense fear harm the kidneys
Foods that support the kidneys:
- Asparagus, artichoke, alfalfa sprouts, mungbean sprouts, potatoes, spinach, string beans, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watercress, yams, and wood ear (black fungus)
- Seaweed, kelp, nori, wakame, miso, and soy sauce
- Blackberries, Blackcurrants, cranberries, grapes, grapefruit peel, lemon, lime, mulberries, raspberries, and strawberries
- Millet, barley, kamut, oats, quinoa, wild rice, corn, job’s tears, and whole wheat
- Bone broth, warm soups, and steamed foods
- Aduki beans, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and black soybeans
- Chestnuts, pistachios, black and white sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and walnuts
- Clams, eel, lobster, octopus, oysters, scallops, squid, and carp
- kidney (beef), chicken, chicken liver, duck, goose, goat, lamb, pork, and venison
- Aniseed, basil, caraway, chives, cinnamon bark, cloves, dill seed, fennel seed, fenugreek seed, horseradish, nettle, parsley, black pepper, rosemary, savory, and thyme
Essential oils that support the kidneys:
- Basil, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, ginger, jasmine, juniper, rose, tea tree, and thyme
I was recently asked by a patient how tips work when receiving acupuncture;
to tip or not to tip?
In an effort to allow for both giving and receiving at Intuitive Transformations Wellness any tips received will be contributed into the “pay it forward” fund.
What is the “pay it forward” fund?
It is a way to help people that would really benefit from receiving acupuncture that do not have the financial resources at the time get care.
What’s more refreshing than sinking your teeth into a big juicy sweet piece of watermelon on a hot summer day?
We’re into the full swing of summer, which means hot days, lots of sunshine, outdoor parties and bbqs, concerts, hiking, and plenty of other outdoor fun in the sun. How do you beat the heat and protect yourself from overheating and dehydrating? In Chinese Medicine one of the ways we do it is with watermelon.
Watermelon, known as xi gua in Chinese, is a fruit from the cucurbitaceae family. It’s cold and sweet by nature; quenches thirst, builds body fluids, relieves irritability, dispels summer heat problems, promotes diuresis (urination), moistens the intestines, and detoxifies the body. In Chinese medicine it’s used to treat thirst, dry mouth, canker sores, summer heat irritability (ya know when you get overheated and your feathers get ruffled a little easier), jaundice, edema, difficult urination, and kidney and urinary tract inflammations.
Did you know that watermelon is 92% water?
Yep, it sure is, which makes it a great choice for helping keep you hydrated in those hot temperatures. Watermelon also has many other nutrients to help you keep healthy. Watermelon contains thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin, B-1, vitamin B-6, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, choline, betaine, and is high in lycopene and vitamin C. Being that it’s high in lycopene it may help lower your blood pressure and may reduce your risk of having a stroke.
**If you have weak digestion or problems with excessive urination you might want to limit your consumption.**
Not that into watermelon? Here are some other foods that will help you beat the heat and stay cool from the inside out!
Apple, asparagus, banana, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumber, egg white, grapefruit, lemon, lettuce, millet, mint, olive, peppermint, potato, radish, salt, seaweed, spirulina, tomato, and wheat
A Cool Refreshing Watermelon Cooler Slushy Recipe
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
¼ cup sugar (optional, may not be necessary with a sweet juicy watermelon)
1/8 teaspoon salt
10 ice cubes
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Place watermelon and ice in a blender.
Pour in lime juice, sugar (optional), and salt.
Blend until smooth, pour in a glass, and sip away!
Qi is often referred to as “universal life energy” or our “non-physical essence.” Qi gong is referred to as qi exercises or qi training. Masters and practitioners of qi gong, as well as, the lay man have used qi gong throughout history for the cultivation of health and wellness. They use both internal and external qi gong. Masters and Practitioners who have been practicing for several years can emit qi gong (external qi gong) from their bodies into other people to aid in healing processes.
Qi gong dates back as far as 400 BCE and has been used throughout history as a means to train or discipline qi. The first reference to qi gong was made by Lao Tsu in his book, the Tao Te Ching. The first book on qi gong was written in the Han Dynasty by Wei Bo Yan. Wei Bo Yan’s book was written from the perspective of jing essence and shen spirit. Also during the Han Dynasty Hua Tuo created the five animal frolics, qi gong exercises that mimicked animals.
Throughout Daoist history the evolution of qi gong has been taking place and several types of qi gong have taken form. One of those forms is qi gong for health and medical practice. Qi ong for health and medical practice became integrated with Chinese medicine, which is what developed into modern traditional medical science. Zhang Zi-Yang wrote several books on qi gong and health preservation.
There are five different style of qi gong today; Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist, martial arts, and medical qi gong. (stated)
- Used to enhance aspects of mental and intellectual capacities.
- Many Confucian techniques derived from Taoist traditions.
- Focused on enhancing intellectual intelligence, creativity, and perception.
- Works from physical motions and energetic systems to affect specific body parts like muscles, tissues, internal organs, energy channels, and mental states.
- It cultivates movement of your own qi and is flowing and gentle.
- Originated from India’s hatha yoga and pranayama tradition.
- It was used to help the Buddhist monks make their bodies strong enough to with stand their meditation practices.
- Used techniques such as holding breath, shouting, and explosive exhales to open the mind and expel negative emotions.
- Used to help the body access normally unavailable levels of power to enhance speed, coordination and sensitivity, and reflexes.
- Believed that first make the body healthy and balanced, then the mind.
- Used to help people with chronic illness and disease.
- Based on the Chinese acupuncture and meridian system.
- Used to heal and regenerate the body.
- Targets specific illnesses with specific sets.
- Creates prescriptions that change and adapt to the person and their health needs.
- Tuina qi gong practitioners formed treatment to move and rebalance energy in the body.
Qi gong incorporates specific things into each practice; specific patterns of breathing, specific posture and movements coordinated with breath, sound, and visualization. The goal of qi gong is to create a habit of moving softly and in a relaxed way. When qi is free and flowing throughout our bodies in a relaxed manner we experience health. When the qi is stagnant or blocked we experience sickness and disease.
In more recent years there have been several studies done to produce data on the beneficial effects that qi gong has on people with chronic illness or disease. One of the questions commonly asked is, “Does qi gong have a therapeutic effect or is it a placebo effect.” Below is an outline of a series of studies conducted collecting data on the effects of qi gong on cancer.
Study 1 (Yeung, 2002):
Zhang performed clinical observations at Beijing Miyua Capital Tumor Hospital. In this study they combined self control qi gong with other conventional methods in 1, 648 patients with various cancer over an eight year period. There was not a control group used in this study.
- 4% of patients showed significant improvement
- 2% some improvement
- 4% showed no effects
Study 2 (Yeung, 2002):
Sun and Zhao from Guang-An-Men hospital performed a study on 23 patients with various forms of cancer. The mean age was 47; 60 males and 63 females participated in the study. All participants were diagnosed with pathological and malignant cancer; 70 were diagnosed with stage III and 53 were diagnosed with stage IV cancer. There were two groups in the study; qi gong with conventional drugs and a control group that took only the conventional drugs. The qi gong group performed qi gong for two hours per day for three months.
Results of the study were:
|Qi Gong Group||Control Group|
|Free of Diarrhea/
|Gained 3+ kg||50.5%||13.3%|
|Lost 3+ kg||5.4%||30%|
|Phagocytic Rate of
|Increased 35%||Decreased 7.8%|
Study 3 (Yeung, 2002):
Fujz, Fu SL, Qin JT of Henan Medical University conducted a study on post surgery patients of cardiac adenocarcinoma. The patients were observed for three years. There were 155 males and 31 females with a mean age of 59.8. Of the patients 7.5% were diagnosed with stage I, 24.7% were diagnosed with stage II, 67.8% were diagnosed with stage III, and 44.5% had lymph metastasized cancer. There were four treatment groups chosen at random; one group was surgery only, one group was chemo only, one group was Chinese herbal therapy only, and one group was Chinese herbal therapy plus qi gong. The qi gong was practiced every day for a specific amount (unspecified) of time. Post surgery chemo was standard protocol for EAP; two courses in the first year, two courses in the second year, and one course in the third year. The herbal formulas were not specified.
Five year follow-up survival rates were:
|Survived one year||Survived three years||Survived five years|
|Qi Gong plus Herbs||86%||64%||36%|
Study 4 (Yeung, 2002):
Zheng RR of Shanghai Qigong Institute conducted a study on 100 various late stage cancer patients who incorporated qi gong and compared the survival rate of those patients with the survival rate of patients who had other therapies.
The survival rates were:
|Survived one year||Survived five years|
|Lung Cancer w/ qi gong||83%||17%|
|Lung Cancer w/ other therapy||Data not given||7%|
|Stomach Cancer w/ qi gong||83%||23%|
|Stomach Cancer w/ other therapy||Data not given||12%|
Study 5 (Yeung, 2002):
A pilot study was conducted at UMDNJ to explore the effects of emitted qi gong therapy (EQT) on PPT-I (an enzyme) expression in four types of breast cancer. The types of breast cancer were BC-123, BC-125, BC-HT-20, and BC-T47D. They were grown to confluence in four six well plates; one plate for each treatment condition. The four conditions were EQT, sham, incubator controlled, and room temperature. The EQT was emitted for 10 minutes to the EQT group cells. The sham group cells had someone untrained in qi gong follow the movements of the qi gong healer. The incubator controlled cells were kept in an incubator. The room temperature cells were left in the room in a different location. After the EQT the samples were incubated for 16 hours. The results showed:
- No significant changes in the three groups of cells that didn’t have EQT
- Consistent and obvious downward trend for BC cells treated by qi gong
- The cells with EQT, with the exception of the BC-T47D cells, had consistently lower cell growth than any other group.
Study 6 (M.S. Lee, 2005):
A single case study was conducted by the European Journal of Cancer Care. Eight qi therapy intervention sessions were performed on alternate days over 16 days. Each was 20 minutes long and was done at a hospital. The symptoms were rated using a visual analogue scale (VAS). The study was done with a 36 year old Korean man with advanced cancer, diabetes, and hypertension. The primary site of the cancer was in the lung and it had metastasized to the stomach and bones. He had received radiation and chemo for six months before starting qi gong. The symptoms assessed using VAS were; pain, vomiting, dyspnea, fatigue, insomnia, anorexia, daily activity, and psychological calmness. All were assessed 24 hours prior to beginning qi gong therapy and throughout the therapy and at a two week check-up.
The results from qi gong therapy were:
|Pain||Had high levels of pain before qi gong and was taking oxycotin. Pain decreased after first qi gong session and patient stopped taking oxycotin. The pain decreased more after four sessions. The pain slightly increased after the last qi gong session and stayed at that level through the two week check-up.|
|Vomiting||Slightly decreased after first qi gong session. Slightly increased after second qi gong session. Rapidly improved after third qi gong session. No vomiting after fifth qi gong session and through the two week check-up.|
|Dyspnea||Decreased in the first through fourth qi gong sessions. Increased slightly and then remained level through the two week check-up.|
|Fatigue||Steadily decreased throughout entire qi gong therapy.|
|Insomnia||Decreased rapidly after second qi gong session.|
|Anorexia||Decreased rapidly after second qi gong session.|
|Daily Activity||Increased after the second qi gong session|
|Psychological Calmness||Peace of mind increased after the fourth qi gong session.|
From the studies done on the effects of qi gong in cancer patients we see that qi gong does have a therapeutic effect. Qi gong has a positive effect for relieving the symptoms the patients experience and on the physiological aspects of the body. Often cancer patients experience a decline in the quality of life they experience due to the physical aspects of the disease, the effect having cancer has on the mental state of the patients, and the treatments that most patients go through as a result of the cancer diagnosis. When patients incorporate the practice of qi gong they help alleviate the overall negative effect of having cancer. The qi gong therapy helps the patients alleviate their symptoms, improve their mental attitude, slow the growth of the cancer, build up the body’s natural defenses, and have a better quality of life through the journey of having cancer.
Written By Katrina McLaughlin L.Ac
Copyright © 2016 Katina McLaughlin L.Ac & Intuitive Transformations Wellness
Clarke, S. (2008). Medical Qigong for Cancer Patients: Pilot Study of Impact on Quality of Life, Side effects of treatment and Inflammation. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine , 459-472.
M.S. Lee, S. Y.-R. (2005). Effects of Qi Therapy (external Qigong) on Symptoms of advanced Cancer: a single case study. European Journal of Cancer Care , 457-462.
McGrath, H. (2009). Traditional Chinese Medicine Approaches to Cancer. Philadelphia: Singing Dragon.
stated, N. (n.d.). Qigong History. Retrieved from Energy Arts: http://www.energyarts.com/qigong-history
Wolfe, H. (2012, July 9th). Blue Poppy Blog. Retrieved from Blue Poppy: http://www.bluepoppy.com/blog/blogs/blog1.php/honora/
Yeung, K. C. (2002). A Review of Qigong Therapy for Cancer Treatment. Journal of International Society of Life Information Science (ISLIS) , 532-542.
Katrina McLaughlin, L.Ac
RELIEF FROM PAIN