Kidney Yin Deficiency
Yin Deficiency and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Yin is substance to the body like a log is substance to a fire. It is necessary to first rebuild the Yin so that the Yang energy can burn long and bright. There is no absolute Yin, or absolute Yang, there is a bit of Yin in Yang, and there is a bit of Yang in Yin.
Harmony is sought between these Yin and Yang qualities and any imbalance avoided when approaching the body as a holistic union. Yin is matter like Blood, fluids and tissue in the body. Yang is the action potential, Qi, and heat in the body. Chinese medicine balances Yin and Yang and can also build these qualities in the body when they are deficient. No one person is completely Yin or Yang; rather, one would look for tendencies and patterns, and weigh them out; one organ system may have Yang excess while another organ system in the same body can have Yang Deficiency.
Signs of aging largely occur due to the depletion of Yin substance in the body: hair and skin become dry and lackluster; joints become brittle and stiff; lower back and knees become weak. While aging and death are inevitable parts of life, maintaining a good quality of health as you age depends directly upon preserving and re-enforcing Yin substance in the body.
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Benefits of Yin in the Body
- Yin cools the body and the body is able to maintain a constant temperature when Yin and Yang are in balance.
- Yin nourishes the body by supplying nutrients to the organs through Blood.
- When balanced with Yang energy, Yin energy allows us to maintain calm strength, stamina, and adaptability rather than a hyperactive, reactive, stressed energy.
- Yin is the material basis for Yang, and therefore allows us to build stamina.
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Patterns of Yin Deficiency
It is not necessary to have every indication listed, but you would look for a number of indications to begin to develop a pattern of imbalance according to TCM. Because Kidney Yin Deficiency is going to be indicated when there is Yin Deficiency anywhere in the body, the Kidney Yin indications will likely be part of other organ system imbalances.
Kidney-Heart Yin Deficiency
- Afternoon or evening sweats
- Dry mouth or throat
- Feeling of fever in afternoon or evening
- Tinnitus- constant ringing in ears
- Achy lower back
- Aching bones
- Weakness of knees or lower back
- Poor memory
- Easily startled
- Waking frequently through the night
- Excessive Dreaming
- Anxious, especially at night
- Emotional disorders
- Heightened libido possibly with nocturnal emissions
Kidney-Liver Yin Deficiency
- Dry eyes, vision impairment
- Joint stiffness
- Tinnitus-comes and goes
- Short temper
Kidney-Stomach Yin Deficiency
Common Misconceptions about Yin Deficiency
Yin is vital to maintaining a good quality of life as we age, but it is one of the most commonly misunderstood concepts in Chinese medicine. Here are some questions and answers most frequently heard:
Will Yin tonics make one colder or damper?
Yin tonics build material substance and Blood in the body; they do not chill the body or create pathogenic Dampness. Comparisons made with the Yin Yang theory relating to Yin Yang imbalances should not be confused with the tonifying qualities of Yin tonics. It is true that relative to hot and dry, cold and damp are Yin excess qualities, but they are not going to develop with the use of a Yin tonic alone. It is also true that there are herbs that are cold that help to remove Heat in the body; an over-consumption of this type of herb would likely lead to Cold Damp conditions in the body but are not the same as Yin tonic herbs.
Am I Yin OR Yang Deficient; if I am Yang Deficient, is a Yin tonic is contraindicated?
Yin substance is the basis for Yang fire; in Chinese medicine, Yang Deficiency cannot be addressed without resolving Yin Deficiency. Utilizing Yin tonic herbs in the face of Yang Deficiency is not just indicated, it is necessary. This theory is further discussed in our Yin Yang TCM theory article.
Will drinking water reverse Yin Deficiency?
Utilizing Yin tonics allows for absorption on a cellular level. Drinking water is not enough to correct Yin Deficiency, although staying hydrated can help to prevent the condition. In Chinese medicine, fluids are necessary and important for good health. It is when the body does not correctly regulate fluids that fluids can become pathogenic. An example would be Dampness accumulating internally in the body.
Yin Deficiency is considered a chronic disorder as it takes years to develop. Acute disorders such as a cold or headache can be treated and reversed quickly; if something comes on quickly it can typically be resolved quickly. Chronic conditions, however, take time to develop, and take time to reverse. Imagine that there has been a drought and the dirt is very dry; it does not begin absorbing moisture easily or quickly as you apply water. The same is true for beginning to rebuild Yin in the body; it takes time and the longer that you have been developing the condition the longer it will take to reverse.
What Causes Yin Deficiency?
There are many lifestyle habits that lead to Yin Deficiency over the span of a life. Imagine that abundant and healthy Yin in the body looks like a healthy baby; a baby shows that it is abundant in Blood and has soft skin and vibrant hair. Imagine an elderly person with dry pallor skin representing Yin Deficiency. As we age it is important to stay moist and juicy with abundant Yin and Blood to maintain our vitality. Becoming dry and brittle would be the opposite of youth and vibrancy.
Lifestyle patterns and the environment begin to consume Yin and Blood over the years. Lifestyle patterns that consume Yin include chronic dehydration, consumption of sodas or alcohol, consumption of overly salty foods, smoking, and pharmaceuticals; over exposure to the sun, radiation, dry conditions, and pollution also deplete Kidney Yin. Stress and other emotional strains can lead to Yin depletion; chronic stress leading to adrenal fatigue and cortisol depletion is a prime example of stress leading to Kidney Yin Deficiency.
How Long Does it Take to Reverse Kidney Yin Deficiency?
If signs of Yin Deficiency have begun to develop, it is not likely the result of an overnight occurrence; it takes many years to develop and a long time to reverse. How Yin Deficient you actually are will determine how long it will take to fully address, and every individual is different. Allow at least 6-8 months to correct Yin Deficiency, and plan on utilizing Yin tonics and Blood builders a few months each year after the age of 60 to prevent decline of health and to promote healthy aging.