Aging & the Kidneys

Isn’t aging FUN? The low back and knee pain, memory loss, hair loss and grey hair, hearing loss, fatigue, loss of sexual function, brittle bones… It’s a party!!!

Would it intrigue you to know that these are not necessarily required to be a part of middle age? At least, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine they’re not. All of these symptoms are actually connected to the health of our kidneys and the energy they control. It isn’t that we’re biologically designed to start experiencing these symptoms at 50. The way we care for our kidney health has a lot to do with how old we appear.

Chinese medicine defines the function of the kidneys quite a bit differently than Western medicine. While they agree that the kidneys are involved in water metabolism and sending waste products to the bladder, Chinese medicine also says that the role of the kidneys is to store life’s essential spark, govern reproduction and growth, maintain bones and brain, control the flow of urine, and keep the willpower strong. Let’s go a little more in depth about how it works.


Kidney energy provides the juice for sexual desire, fertility, reproduction, and growth. Stimulants like caffeine and other drugs are draining to kidney energy. This can lead to problems with fertility, low libido, and accelerated aging. In particular kidney energy controls the luster and growth of our hair. So if your hair is dry, falling out, or growing where it shouldn’t, this is showing you that your kidney energy is weak.

Bones & Brain

Kidney energy is also in charge of the brain, spinal cord, bones and marrow. Drugs that influence brain chemistry are especially draining to kidney energy. Weak kidney energy may manifest as poor nerve function, memory problems, weak teeth or osteoporosis. Later in life we see disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, which are all demonstrating depletion of kidney energy. Protecting the health of your kidneys now will help you hold on to your faculties in old age.


Traditional Chinese Medicine calls this jing. Jing is a combination of the DNA we inherit from our family line, plus the spark of life that animates us and gives us our drive. It influences our willpower and ability to be present and engaged in our daily life. Interestingly for men (and kindof a bummer), ejaculation is the loss of jing. For women it is blood loss from menstruation & childbirth that drains jing. If we indulge in too much sex, drugs and rock & roll, we quickly burn through jing. The quality of food that we eat, air we breathe, and exercise we pursue can protect or drain our jing. But we only inherit a finite amount of it, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Ultimately, when we completely run out of jing, we die.

So, what can be done to protect kidney health and slow down the onset of these signs of aging?

Acupuncture is an essential part of maintaining youthfulness. It accelerates healing so that the kidneys are revitalized and performing at top condition. This in turn increases energy, improves sex drive, boosts memory, strengthens bones, adds shine to hair, eliminates menopausal symptoms, and gives us our zest for life.

Diet is very important for the health of the kidneys. Consider the vitality of your food, as it is directly connected to the vitality you exhibit. Drinking water is at the root of keeping you feeling and looking young. Eating foods which are blue, purple or black are especially great for the kidneys. Think beans and berries. Seafood and seaweed are also excellent, and so are seeds and nuts.

If some of your aging symptoms are arriving much too early, or to hold on to your youth as long as possible, it would be wise to supplement diet with Chinese herbal formulas. These are very ancient combinations of plants (available in pill form) that are known to strengthen the kidneys and help you feel balanced and energized. They are great for promoting long life and vitality.

Give Eastern medicine a try, and see how it can help you look and feel younger!

Call today to inquire if your healthcare plan covers acupuncture! (520) 318-5560.

Candice Thomas is a licensed acupuncturist in Tucson, specializing in chronic pain, stress relief, and prostate health. Visit her at www.LightWorksAcupuncture.com.

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