Kidney Essence Deficiency

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Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 肾精虚

Pinyin name: Shèn Jīng Xū

Associated TCM concepts: Essence Deficiency / Empty Kidneys


Common symptoms: Tinnitus Hair loss Sore back Weak Limbs Poor memory and six other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu), Floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

Kidney Essence (Jing 精) Deficiency usually involves Deficiency of Kidney Yin and, to some extent, Kidney Yang. Its signs manifest in relation to growth, development, reproduction, sexuality, bones, marrow, the brain, teeth, memory and hair. Poor hereditary constitution in children, aging, excessive sexual activity or Kidney Yin or Yang Deficiency over a prolonged time may leads to Kidney Essence Deficiency. 

In children, this pattern is almost always caused by a hereditary weakness of the Kidney Essence, which can be due to parents being too old or in poor health at the time of conception. In adults, this pattern may be caused by excessive sexual activity. In women, a Kidney Essence Deficiency may be a result of prolonged loss of Blood over many years, such as excessively heavy periods. In women, it may also cause Liver Blood Deficiency as Essence participates in Blood making.

Diagnosing Kidney Essence Deficiency

The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine

Pulse type(s): Empty (Xu) or floating (Fu)

Tongue coating: Complete absence of coating

Tongue color: Pale

Possible symptoms: Tinnitus Hair loss Sore back Weak Limbs Poor memory Loose teeth Hair Graying Premature aging Poor sexual ability Poor bone development Late closure of fontanelle

Diagnosing a pattern in Chinese Medicine is no easy feat and should be left to professional practitioners.

In particular one has to know how to differentiate between different types of pulses and tongue coatings, shapes and colors. Here patients with Kidney Essence Deficiency will tend to exhibit empty (Xu) or floating (Fu) pulses as well as a pale tongue with complete absence of coating.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Kidney Essence Deficiency might experience symptoms like poor bone development, late closure of fontanelle, weak limbs and hair loss (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Kidney Essence Deficiency

Zuo Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes the Yin. Strengthens the Kidneys. Fills the Essence. Augments the marrow.

Formula summary

Zuo Gui Wan is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1624 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish Yin and tonify.

Besides Kidney Essence Deficiency, Zuo Gui Wan is also used to treat Kidney Yin Deficiency or Kidney Deficiency.

Read more about Zuo Gui Wan

Diet recommendations

Eat plenty of whole grains with protein complement such as legumes or meat, cooked vegetables and greens to support the Kidneys. Pork, duck, milk and congee are especially beneficial. Avoid coffee and other caffeinated foods and drinks, alcohol, sugar and tobacco smoking.

Most important herbs used to treat Kidney Essence Deficiency