By Xianmin Yu, R.TCMP & R.Ac

According to the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), men’s kidney essence starts to decline at the age of 40. It is time for you to do some preparation to deal with this natural process, especially during the severe cold winter. How can you manage to strengthen your body and relieve the stress and pressure of work?

TCM has already given you the guidance in its classic “Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic”, i.e., nourishing your kidneys and storing the essence. According to TCM, the human body corresponds to natural seasons, i.e., the liver corresponding to spring, the heart corresponding to early to middle summer, the spleen corresponding to middle to late summer, the lung corresponding to autumn, and the kidney corresponding to winter. The warm spring nourishes the liver, while the hot summer nourishes the heart and the spleen. After the cool autumn nourishes the lungs, the cold winter is around the corner. Winter is the season of replenishing energy and nourishing the kidney. It is a perfect time for kidney to store its essence and consolidate your body foundation.

Thus, here are a few important suggestions for you to consider.

First, balance your nutrition intake, i.e., make sure you have a food list composed of various nutrients such as good fat, protein, vitamins and fiber. In the cold winter, you may prefer to take some hot food, such as lamb, beef, hot pot, and red wine, which have the function of warming kidney yang to help you resist the coldness. However, please be cautious that you do not consume the hot food too frequently, (i.e., every day or every other day), as it will lead to over rising of kidney yang which is not beneficial to storage of kidney essence. It means you may experience cold feet with hot chest and/or red face. Excessive drinking may cause liver and kidney damage. It is highly recommended that you eat less cold foods and avoid overeating, which can protect the body’s yang.

Second, partake in regular exercise. It can not only strengthen the body, but also relieve the pressure in work and life. It is beneficial for you to do some mild to moderate exercise after getting up in the morning, as proper exercise can relax your muscles and bones, resist the cold and make you energetic. It is not recommended for you to do heavily loaded exercise as it may strain your muscles and bones easily. Do remember to warm up before you can increase the amount of exercise. Morning exercise helps you to strengthen your liver and kidney function according to TCM.

Third, stay hydrated. Proper hydration can not only prevent urinary calculi, but also flush the kidney and the whole urinary system to excrete metabolic waste in a timely manner which prevents potential urinary infection. Kidney is described as a water Zang organ according to TCM, which explains why sufficient water intake is important to protect and nourish kidney. In the cold winter, the skin evaporates less water, and instead urination will be more frequent. If you have the habit to hold back urine, please stop doing that any more. Because this could force urine to return to the kidneys, causing toxic effects in the kidneys.

Fourth, try to get enough sleep and avoid staying up late. According to “Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic”, the best way to keep you healthy in winter is sleeping earlier and getting up later. If you get used to staying up late, it is highly probable that you will have shadows around eyes and feel lethargy when you wake up in the morning due to insufficient sleep. From TCM perspective, this is a manifestation of kidney essence deficiency. Be nice to your kidney and try to get yourself prepared to fall asleep before 11 pm. A practical and good way worth trying is to soak your feet in the hot water before going to bed, which helps to nourish your kidneys and strengthen the essence.

Fifth, try to reduce sexual activity frequency, i.e., not every day. Based on TCM, it is easy to lose a lot of kidney essence if you have a highly active sexual life. You may feel weakness of your lower back, knee, and teeth. However, it does not mean that you need to restrict your sexual life. Lack of intercourse may cause prostatic fluid and other body fluids not eliminated in time, which can easily lead to prostatitis. Moderate sexual life is conducive to physical and mental pleasure and protects the prostate.

Finally yet importantly, it is always a good idea to do some prevention to keep your kidney as healthy as expected. Different kinds of TCM herbal tea are available which are prepared by the TCM practitioner. They will be tailored individually based on your body constitution. If you have already experienced the symptoms of feeling exhaustion all the time, cold hands and feet, catching cold easily, erectile dysfunction, premature ejection, lower back and/or knee weakness, etc., please do not hesitate to come to our clinic, as the TCM formula together with acupuncture are available to help you cope with it. 

Wishing everyone good, healthy kidneys!