Kidney Syndromes

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Kidney syndromes are the ways your Kidneys (capital K for Kidney, meaning the Kidney Zang-fu energy organ in Chinese medicine) mis-function. In other words, how Chinese medicine describes Kidney patterns of disease.

This page has links to other pages describing the syndromes in more detail, with what can be done about them. 

On this page you'll find a list of the syndromes but first, why do the Kidneys mis-function?

Aetiology of Kidney Syndromes:
Why your Kidneys mis-function!

First, read what in Chinese medicine the Kidneys are said to do, the Kidney functions. The rest of this page describes why you get Kidney syndromes, ie why your Kidneys fail to function and do the jobs described on that page.

Inherited problems

The ancient Chinese doctors recognised problems inherited from parents, being more-or-less what we would describe as genetic defects as being a major cause of Kidney syndromes.

In particular, they wanted

  • your parents at the time of conception to be young, fit, rested and healthy. As what is called Jing Essence (which the Kidneys look after) declines when people mature and age, and this essence from each parent is what makes your Jing Essence, ideally you need healthy young Jing Essence making yours!
  • their parents ditto ditto, ie your grandparents
  • your mother's health to be good throughout the pregnancy
  • the birth to be free from problems

Stress and Strain

Stress can deplete your Kidney energy. For more about this read my book 'Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress' but prolonged or great stress is exhausting, as most people recognise.

What gets exhausted is your Kidney energy - your Kidney Qi.

Of course, conversely, if you thrive on stress and it doesn't exhaust you, you probably have strong Kidney Qi.

Well Done! However, don't get too vain because if your life involves constant change, many occupations, your searchlight brain attention trying to deal with too many things at once, then, whether you enjoy it or not, over time you will still probably over-use your Kidney Qi.

This is you over-working yourself. This depletes Kidney Yin more often than Kidney Yang.

In particular, emotional strain is damaging. Strong fears, panics, great anxiety or shock are worst.

One might add (being a parent) that if you allow your children to stay up at night too often, getting too little sleep (see below), and watching - in particular - very frightening movies, you may inadvertently be draining their Kidney Qi.

So Kidney syndromes can arise from doing things you enjoy! Unfortunately.

Prolonged or very Intense Illness

This draws on more resources than you can muster from the food you eat and the air you breath so it eats into your reserves of Kidney Qi and Jing Essence. Which Kidney syndromes are mainly affected? Kidney Yin especially.

Intemperate Sex

This varies according to your sex and makeup.

  • Women. In general, orgasm was originally thought to exhaust a woman's Jing Essence but this is now considered less important than having prolonged menses with heavy bleeding, or having babies too soon one after another without recovering properly between them. Also, sex too early in life may deplete a woman's Kidney Qi, and sex during periods can cause Blood stasis in her abdomen, which her Kidney Qi has to deal with, possibly exhausting itself in the process. 

Copyright Rebecca Abell Dreamstime 

  • Of course, if a woman has prolonged or very intense orgasms repeatedly to her total exhaustion, it is possible that she might deplete herself and, if she fails to rest and take nourishment, then she would be dissipating her Jing Essence. This is, however, rare.
  • Men. If your inherited constitution was weak, then too much sex (ejaculation) could be too much even if only very occasional. For others, endowed with great inherited Jing Essence and Kidney qi, one can only marvel and envy their prowess. Men use up Jing Essence each time they ejaculate.


As you age, you use up your Jing Essence and your Kidney Qi, giving you signs of ageing. Many signs of ageing are directly attributable to Kidney function declining, including the effects of age on bones, joints, hearing and vitality including sexual vitality. As you age you become more susceptible to Kidney syndromes.

Rest and Sleep

If you don't allow yourself time off to recover from work, you may dip into your reserves of Kidney Qi and even Jing Essence.

Sleep, rest and holidays are important, especially for children and teenagers. A regime of early bed for them, especially during school-time, is vital. Check Insomnia if this is a problem.

It also inculcates good habits and means they learn how to sleep properly. They are then brighter and more alert and amenable next day, so learn more, giving them a better chance in life.

What about taking NO exercise?

Does taking no exercise harm your Kidney energy? Well, no, at least not for a while. Taking no exercise doesn't seem to deplete Kidney Qi to start with BUT it does weaken your Spleen.

As time passes a weak Spleen can lead to all sorts of other problems, including Qi Stagnation, Damp and Blood Stasis. Eventually those problems include an effect on the Heart energy and so eventually on Kidney, mainly Kidney Yang.

Too much Exercise?

If this amounts to overstrain, then yes. This mostly depletes Kidney Yang and can cause Blood Stasis too.

What Kidney Syndromes are there?

When the Kidneys fail or mis-function, various syndromes of disease occur and the main ones are as follows.

Click on the one you're interested in to go to a page describing it in more detail.

When the line is NOT in blue and/or is NOT underlined it means the link has not been made yet, or perhaps the page has not been written!

(For which my apologies, but Chinese medicine is a big subject and I only write pages as I need them to explain problems to my patients, or so that people reading one of my books online can click on a link in the book to help them understand a concept.)

Regarding deficiency or 'Empty' situations:

Syndromes that have both Emptiness but also some Fullness:

Combined syndromes, ie syndromes where another of the Zang-fu Energy organs shares or contributes:

Jonathan Clogstoun-Willmott Books

All the books in the 'Chinese Medicine in English' series should be fully accessible on Kindles and Kindle apps. (Or you can buy the softback print editions, of course.)

('Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine' published 1986, was never available in a Kindle version.)

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Here are some of the books I (Jonathan) have written.

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Qi Stagnation - Signs of Stress

Yin Deficiency - Burnout and Exhaustion

Yang Deficiency - Get Your Fire Burning Again!

Yuck! Phlegm! How to Clear Your Phlegm ...

Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine

Published 1986 and, amazingly, still selling. Western Astrology and Chinese Medicine was apparently used back then by at least one acupuncture college to help students understand Chinese medicine! See Reviews.

Seven Reviews so far for Yuck Phlegm. (Despite the lurid cover, it explains the five main types of phlegm and what works best for each type. I hope it's easy to read and will be much more useful than all the websites on the subject.)

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