Kidney Syndromes and Chinese Nutrition

Disharmony in the kidney network presents as vacuity or emptiness. The most important syndromes for nutritional therapy are:

Kidney qi vacuity (shen qi xu) Kidney yang vacuity (shen yang xu) Kidney yin vacuity (shen yin xu)

Kidney vacuity involves general physical weakness, as well as increased susceptibility to external and internal illnesses. Often appearing in connection with kidney vacuity are sexual dysfunction, urological conditions, and disorders of the lower back and bones.

Western diagnosis:

General weakness, sensitivity to cold, loss of strength, incontinence, enuresis (bedwetting), impotence, premature ejaculation, knee pain, chronic cystitis (urinary tract infections), nephritis, frigidity, depression, anxiety, chronic degenerative arthropathy, rheumatoid arthritis.


Regardless of the type of kidney disorder, the factors weakening kidney energy are similar. They differ only in severity and duration, which is determined by the gravity of the disorder and pathology of the network. Qi vacuity is a relatively mild disorder of the network. It can develop into a more serious disorder with yang vacuity symptoms if it persists and the damage increases. More severe damage can injure the organ system structure and present with the same symptoms as yin vacuity. Progression of disorders is not always so clear-cut and may involve gradual transitions and the involvement of other networks. The most common cause weakening the energy exchange of the kidneys are the strong demands made on the body by our "civilized world." Both mental and physical overexertion often lead first to kidney qi vacuity, then to kidney yang vacuity, and with prolonged overexertion and stress, finally to kidney yin vacuity. Too much work under time pressure, a hasty, unbalanced and insufficient diet, and not enough time for rest and relaxation can weaken kidney energy within weeks or months. If such constant exhaustion is not balanced or taken care of, serious disorders can develop in the course of a few years. Other negative factors are excessive sexual activity and emotional factors such as fear or a sudden mental shock. All of these can undermine kidney energy. Chronic illness, independent of the organ network involved, always weakens kidney energy eventually, since the kidney is the root of all yin and yang in the body. Kidney energy decreases physiologically with age. This aging process accelerates when kidney energy is carelessly wasted. TCM believes that the quality of kidney energy for a new life is determined by the health of the parents at the time of conception. If the parents have weak kidney energy when they conceive, their baby will inherit a constitutional weakness.

Foods that strengthen the kidney network


Smoked fish, oysters, lobster, salmon, shrimp, tuna


Game: venison, doves, wild pig




Oats, millet, wheat, black soy beans

Nuts and seeds

Walnuts, black sesame

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