In the healing philosophy of the Far East, the energy flow in our environment is reflected in our bodies. In the system of the Five Elements, the Water Element corresponds to the night-time in the daily cycle and the winter in the yearly cycle. The organs associated with water and thus winter are the kidneys and the urinary bladder.
Isn’t it amazing that your two kidneys, which are the size of your fists, can filter you blood, all one-and-a-half gallons of it, 400 times a day! The adrenals are associated with the kidneys and have to do with handling stress and keeping inflammation down. In Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are viewed as the center of the life force. They enable us to go out into the world and handle whatever we encounter during the day.
If you get really cold hands and feet in the winter, it could have to do with the condition of the kidneys. The kidneys are thought to rule the bones and the joints, so if you have bone loss, low back pain or painful joints, you need to take care of your kidneys. Hearing is also associated with the water element, so hearing loss and other old age symptoms like graying of hair, fatigue, losing teeth and memory are all kidney issues. One way to diagnose the condition of your kidneys is by looking at the skin under your eyes, if they are dark or puffy then they are weak.
On the emotional level, you know your kidneys are strong if you have a strong will, confidence and good memory. Some signs of weakness are depression, lack of motivation, fears, sexual issues, sleep problems and a need to control others. Energy peaks in the meridians of kidney and bladder from 3 to 7 p.m., so if you energy drops at that time, your kidneys may need some support.
The flavor associated with the kidneys is salty, so a good quality sea salt is important, plus some other foods like miso soup, soy sauce or umeboshi plums, as well as sea vegetables. In the winter, we should eat fewer raw foods and use longer cooking times, and have soups and stews more often.
There are some powerful acupuncture points for your kidneys and bladder between your Achilles tendon and the ankle bones, on the inside and outside of your foot. Put steady pressure on these points for a minute or so if they are tender.
Take care of your kidneys this winter. Keep them warm, eat nourishing foods and take the time to rest. Winter is the time of the year for going within. Meditate more and avoid excessive thinking. Keep a reasonable schedule and make some time each day to do nothing. Rub your hands together and put your hands over your kidneys and send them some gratitude and love…they are the batteries you need for the rest of your life.