Kidney Yang Deficiency

TCM Education Center > Patterns of disharmony > Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pattern factsheet

Chinese name: 肾阳虚

Pinyin name: Shèn Yáng Xū

Associated TCM concepts: Kidneys Yang Deficiency / Empty

Related conditions: Edema Anemia Eczema and forty six other conditions

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Edema Asthma Chills Dysuria Coughing and fifty six other symptoms

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen), Slow (Chi)

Tongue coating: Thin white coating

Tongue color: Pale

Tongue shape: Swollen

Kidney Yang Deficiency causes Internal Cold and weakness. It indicates that the Fire of the Gate of Life, which is located between the two Kidneys and supplies fundamental warmth for the body, is also impaired.  Therefore, the Organs lack warmth and cannot fully perform their functions. Additionally, Essence cannot warm the sexual function and uterus, which can lead to infertility and lowered libido. It also causes insufficient Qi to strengthen the bones, making them brittle.

In severe cases, Yang's function of transforming Body Fluids is impaired. Thus edema accumulates and it cause water retention in other Organs, especially the Heart and the Lungs. As a result, symptoms such as breathlessness on exertion, cough, asthma with thin, watery and frothy sputum, palpitations and cold hands may appear. Kidney Yang Deficiency is often paired with patterns such as Deficient Heart, Deficient Spleen Yang or Deficient Lung Qi.

Kidney Yang Deficiency is a result of overexposure to cold climates and environments, excessive intake of cold and raw foods and drinks and Kidney depleting substances such as alcohol, coffee and sugar. Other factors such as excessive sexual activity, especially if one is exposed to cold immediately after sexual intercourse, chronic Dampness and old age can also cause Kidney Yang Deficiency. 

Related conditions

Abnormal vaginal discharge Irregular menstruation Menopausal syndrome Late menstruation Anemia Hypertension Chronic bronchitis Chronic rhinitis Rectal prolapse Infertility Cystitis Urticaria Eczema Pyelonephritis Emphysema Asthma Edema Nephrotic syndrome Kidney stones Keratities Hyperaldosteronism Hypothyroidism Chronic nephritis Renal tuberculosis Diabetes mellitus Diabetes insipidus Cataract Glaucoma Addisons disease Arteriosclerosis Albuminuria Chronic gonorrhea Arthritis Neurasthenia Osteoporosis Leukopenia Bronchial asthma Nephritis Benign prostatic hypertrophy Chronic glomerular Renal stones Chronic urethritis Paralysis of the detrusor muscle Urinary retention Vitreous opacity Chronic tonsillitis Neurogenic tinnitus Periodontal disease Premature ejaculation

Diagnosing Kidney Yang Deficiency

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

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 Yang Deficiency will tend to exhibit deep (Chen) or slow (Chi) pulses as well as a pale tongue with thin white coating.

Practitioners also learn to read from a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Here patients with Kidney Yang Deficiency might experience symptoms like abdominal pain, sore lower back, cold limbs and edema (full list here above).

Herbal formulas used to treat Kidney Yang Deficiency

You Gui Wan

Source date: 1624 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.

Formula summary

You Gui Wan is a 10-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi), Cinnamon Bark (Rou Gui) and Deer Antler Glue (Lu Jiao Jiao) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1624 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm Yang and tonify.

Besides Kidney Yang Deficiency, You Gui Wan is also used to treat Kidney Qi not Firm or Yang Deficiency.

Read more about You Gui Wan

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.

Formula summary

Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Rehmannia (Shu Di huang) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that nourish Yin and tonify.

Besides Kidney Yang Deficiency, Ba Wei Di Huang Wan is also used to treat Yang Deficiency or Kidney Yin Deficiency.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

Er Xian Tang

Source date: 1950 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin and tonifies Yang of the Kidneys. Clears Empty Heat. Regulates the Directing and Penetrating Vessels.

Formula summary

Er Xian Tang is a 6-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Curculigo Rhizomes (Xian Mao) and Epimedium Herbs (Yin Yang Huo) as principal ingredients. Invented in 1950 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that tonify Yin and Yang.

Besides Kidney Yang Deficiency, Er Xian Tang is also used to treat Deficiency of both the Kidney Yin and Yang.

Read more about Er Xian Tang

Shen Qi Wan

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies and warms Kidney Yang.

Formula summary

Shen Qi Wan is a 8-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) and Cinnamon Twigs (Gui Zhi) as principal ingredients. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm Yang and tonify.

Read more about Shen Qi Wan

Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Key actions: Tonifies Kidney Yang. Strengthens the Essence.

Formula summary

Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan is a 5-ingredient Chinese Medicine formula with Cuscuta Seeds (Tu Si Zi) as a principal ingredient. Invented in 1550 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm Yang and tonify.

Read more about Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan

Diet recommendations

Eat a balanced diet of all cooked foods and those with a warm energy such as whole grains, legumes (especially aduki beans), meat (especially lamb, beef and pork), cooked vegetables and greens. Drink walnut tea or use walnuts in cooking. Asparagus, black cherry juice, raspberries and millet all aid Kidney Qi.

Avoid any intake of cold and raw foods and drinks, frozen yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, iced and refrigerated drinks, juices, sodas, coffee and other caffeinated foods and drinks, sugar, alcohol, soy milk and tofu.

Special highlight: the link between late menstruation and Kidney Yang Deficiency

Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) is the key herb for Shen Qi Wan, a formula used for late menstruation caused by Kidney Yang Deficiency

Typical symptoms for late menstruation caused by Kidney Yang Deficiency: Sore back Dizziness Late period Scanty periods Pale color periods Nocturnal emissions

Recommended herbal formula: Shen Qi Wan

Kidney Yang is considered the 'primary Yang'. It is the root of Yang for all other Organs and all the Yang energies of the entire body. In the case of Kidney Yang Deficiency, this results in a situation where there is not be enough Kidney Essence to create Blood, nor sufficient Qi to move Blood to the Lower Burner. Then the Directing (Ren Mai 任脉) and Penetrating (Chong Mai 冲脉) Vessels are not nourished and the Sea of Blood fails to fill the Uterus, hence the delayed periods. Long-term Kidney...Read more about late menstruation

Special highlight: the link between menopausal syndrome and Kidney Yang Deficiency

Prepared Aconite (Zhi Fu Zi) is the key herb for You Gui Wan, a formula used for menopausal syndrome caused by Kidney Yang Deficiency

According to Chinese Medicine, both Spleen and Kidney Yang Deficiency are interlinked reasons behind menopausal syndrome. It is because the Spleen Yang originates from the Kidney Yang so a deficiency in one will cause a deficiency in the other. In turn the Spleen supplies the Kidneys with postnatal Grain Qi and the Blood it transforms from food and drinks.

When the Spleen Yang is deficient due to Kidney Yang Deficiency, its ability to generate sufficient grain Qi, Blood and Post-Heaven Essence...Read more about menopausal syndrome