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  • Debbie Caruso

Winter, the Water Element & the Kidneys

In the Chinese Five Elements winter belongs to the water element and relates to the health of the kidney energy system

The kidneys store our original essence (Jing) which is our prenatal qi. This is the qi (essential energy) that we were born with and we inherited from our parents at the moment of conception. This forms the basis of our constitution, our physical and energetic strengths and weaknesses.


The kidneys in Chinese Medicine are also known as the Root of Life. In TCM the kidney organ/energy system also includes the adrenal glands, the ovaries in woman and the testicles in men (known as the external kidneys). The kidneys control sexual and reproductive functions of the body and are the prime source of sexual vitality, which is regarded as a major indicator of health and Immunity.


The kidneys are responsible for our growth and development, reproductive functions, bones, bone marrow, including the spine and brain, and they control the fluids of the body.


The kidneys also hold our most fundamental yin & yang and when this becomes unbalanced it can have a detrimental effect on every system of the body...mental, physical and energetic.

In the Five Rhythms, the kidneys (and the paired organ/meridian system bladder) belong to the Water Element, colour blue/black, time of day 5-7 pm. The kidneys are the seat of our courage and willpower. and the health of the kidneys is reflected by the condition of the hair. If kidney qi is weak it can result in feeling of fear, paranoia and depression.


It can also result in anaemia and immune deficiency, poor memory, inability to

think clearly, ringing in the ears and hearing problems, soreness and weakness of the lumber region and knees, sweating or an aversion to cold, incontinence, constipation, impotence or female sterility.


The kidneys are our most yin organ and belong to the season of winter. As the temperature falls and the seasons change from weak yin (autumn) to extreme yin (winter) the kidneys become stressed and our kidney qi can becomes deficient. It is therefore especially important to nourish the kidneys at this time of year, and we should actually start in autumn to help the kidneys cope with the transition of the changing seasons.


Here are some things we can do to keep our own and our clients Kidneys healthy in winter.


1. Rub, flick and massage the ears

Rub, flick and massage the ears until they become hot. In Chinese medicine the ears are related to the kidneys. The ears are also a microcosm of every physical and energetic system of the body. When we work on the ears we work on everything! If you feel like you are coming down with a cold or flu rubbing and flicking the ears will often stop it in its tracks.


2. Massage, open, heat Yong Quan, Kidney 1.

Yong Quan, kidney 1, also known as the Bubbling Well or Gushing Spring, is the point where we receive the healing earth yin energy into the body. It's important for our grounding, our connection to Mother Earth and for our overall health.

Massage and open up these points, then place the Laogong point, pericardium 8, in the centre of the palms, over kidney 1 (you may want to rub the hands together first to create some heat) The Laogong is an energy gate and we can emit healing energies through these points, use your intention, focus and breath. We are using the heart fire (summer, pericardium 8) to heat kidney water (winter, kidney 1)


3. Massage/Tap the Kidneys

Massage the kidneys in inward circles (applies only in winter, in summer you would reverse the direction of the circles) Up on the outside, the hands come together on top of the circle, downwards in the middle and continue in this nourishing cycle. Massage with open palms until the kidneys become warm. You are again using the heart fire (summer, pericardium 8) to warm kidney water (winter) We are also activating the Ming Men (GV4), an energy gate that is also known as the Door of Life or Gate of Vitality and which is directly associated with the kidney organ/energy system and the health of kidney qi.


When you have finished massaging and feel heat in the kidneys, tap over the area with loose fists, this removes any excess qi or stagnation. Continue to tap bringing the fists together and moving down the spine to the tailbone, then tap out to either side of the gluteus maximus, to help the kidney energy drains downwards. Wipe off.


You can always follow by tapping further down the inside of the leg, following the kidney meridian, and finish up at kidney 1, massaging or tapping this point. This is maybe more effective, but optional. The important part is moving stagnant energy out and nourishing the kidneys, which balances our basic yin & yang and therefore has a positive influence on every system of the body.

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