Kidney Yang Deficiency

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At a glance

Key attributes

Chinese name: 肾阳虚      Pinyin name: Shèn Yáng Xū

Pattern nature: Empty

Pattern hierarchy: Specific pattern under Yang Deficiency

Common combinations: Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing Kidney and Spleen Yang Deficiency

Causes

Precursor patterns: Kidney Essence Deficiency Kidney Qi not Firm Spleen Qi Deficiency and eight other possible precursors

Common causes: 1. Chronic diseases, 2. Excessive sexual activity, 3. Physical over-exertion, 4. Over-exercising, 5. Diet, 6. External Cold and Dampness

Diagnosis

Common symptoms: Fatigue Tinnitus Dizziness Weak legs Lassitude and fifteen other symptoms

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

Tongue description: Pale tongue

Treatment

Treatment principle: Tonify and warm the Kidneys, strengthen the Gate of Life Fire.

Common formulas: Ba Wei Di Huang Wan You Gui Wan Er Xian Tang and two other formulas

Pathology

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 the 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 Oedema 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 as well as cold hands may appear.

Kidney Yang Deficiency is often paired with patterns such as Deficient Heart, Deficient Spleen Yang or Deficient Lung Qi.

Causes

Precursor patterns: Kidney Yang Deficiency can derive from Kidney Essence Deficiency Kidney Qi not Firm Spleen Qi Deficiency Spleen Yang Deficiency Spleen Qi Sinking Spleen Blood Deficiency Spleen not controlling Blood Cold-Damp invading the Spleen Small Intestine Deficient and Cold Damp-Cold in the Bladder Bladder Deficient and Cold

Chronic diseases: A chronic diseases, especially these come with Spleen Yang Deficiency, can harm Kidney Yang if they are kept untreated for a very long time.

Excessive sexual activity: Excessive sexual activities can also cause this pattern, especially if one is exposed to cold immediately after intercourse.  For woman patients, their Kidney Yang can be largely impaired if they happen to have too early, for example, during puberty.

Physical over-exertion: Excessive physical work depletes Kidney Yang.

Over-exercising: Like physical over-exertion, over-exercising is also a cause for consuming Kidney Yang.

Diet: Excessive intake of cold and raw foods and drinks as well as juices, fruits, iced drinks and foods such as ice cream or frozen yogurt create Cold in the Kidneys and injure the Yang. There are other Kidney depleting substances such as alcohol, coffee, caffeinated drinks or foods, tobacco and sugar.

External Cold and Dampness: Overexposure to cold and wet climates and environments can cause this pattern.

Diagnosing Kidney Yang Deficiency

Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen) or slow (Chi)

Tongue description: Pale tongue

Main symptoms: Fatigue Tinnitus Dizziness Weak legs Lassitude Impotence Depression Loose stools Oedema of legs Lower back pain Feeling of cold Low sperm count Sore lower back Decreased libido Cold and weak knees Infertility in women Premature ejaculation Bright-white complexion Pale and abudant urination Sensation of cold in the lower back

Diagnosis commentary: Key characteristic symptoms of this pattern are the back pain, feeling of cold, profuse clear urination, pale tongue and deep pulse.

Treating Kidney Yang Deficiency

Treatment principle

Tonify and warm the Kidneys, strengthen the Gate of Life Fire. 

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. 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 or Empty Yang.

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. 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 Empty Yang or Kidney Yin Deficiency.

Read more about Ba Wei Di Huang Wan

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. Invented in 220 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm Yang and tonify.

Besides Kidney Yang Deficiency, Shen Qi Wan is also used to treat Damp-Phlegm or Oedema.

Read more about Shen Qi 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. 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

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. Invented in 1550 AD, it belongs to the category of formulas that warm Yang and tonify.

Besides Kidney Yang Deficiency, Wu Zi Yan Zong Wan is also used to treat Kidney Essence Deficiency.

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.

Avoid excessive sexual activity, exposure to cold (especially over the lower abdomen and back), and excessive use of hot tubs and saunas, being sure to dunk or thoroughly rinse in cool water after they are used.

Wear a harimaki to protect the abdomen from the external Coldness. Apply moxibustion or ginger fomentations over the lower abdomen and Kidney regions. Try also breathing exercises. 

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

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

Consequence patterns

Heart Yang Collapsing

Since the Kidneys are the origin of all body energies, a severe and chronic Deficiency of Kidney Yang is a mandatory precondition to Heart-Yang Collapsing.

Kidney Yang Deficiency with Water overflowing

Long-term chronic Spleen Yang Deficiency may lead to "Water overflowing", especially when there is also Dampness.

Kidneys failing to receive Qi

If left untreated Kidney Yang Deficiency can lead to Kidneys failing to receive Qi

Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs

For the elderly, Kidney Yang Deficiency is often the precursor of Damp-Phlegm in the Lungs. It is because the Kidneys are responsible for Body Fluids transformation, thus the malfunction of Kidneys give rise to Phlegm accumulation. 

Cold-Phlegm in the Lungs

In the elderly, Kidney Yang Deficiency can impair the Kidney's ability to transform and transport Body Fluids, thus the formation of Dampness and Phlegm, which then gets stored in the Lungs

Phlegm-Heat in the Lungs

In the elderly, Kidney Yang Deficiency can impair the Kidney's ability to transform and transport Body Fluids, thus the formation of Dampness and Phlegm, which then gets stored in the Lungs

Damp-Heat in the Bladder

Kidney Yang Deficiency contributes to the formation of Dampness in the Lower Burner. As such, it can coexist as a pattern together with Damp-Heat in the Bladder.

Damp-Cold in the Bladder

Kidney Yang Deficiency contributes to the formation of Dampness in the Lower Burner.

Bladder Deficient and Cold

Kidney Yang Deficiency is the most frequent precursor of Bladder Deficient and Cold.

Oedema

The Kidneys control water circulation and balance Body Fluids in the body. They are the root of water metabolism in the body, strengthened by the Spleen's function of transforming and raising Fluids and the Lungs' function of circulating and descending Fluids to the Lower Burner.

If this function is impaired, Body Fluids overflows out of their normal channels and settle in the space between skin and the muscles in the lower part of the body, such as the legs and ankles. 

Spleen Yang Deficiency

Yang Deficiency can happen to various Organs because of Kidney Yang Deficiency, which is the original of all body Heat because the Gate of Life Fire is located between two Kidneys. 

Therefore, the lack of Yang in Kidneys can provoke Yang Deficiency in other Organs, especially the Spleen, Stomach, Lungs and Heart. 

Lung Yang Deficiency

Yang Deficiency can happen to various Organs because of Kidney Yang Deficiency, which is the original of all body Heat because the Gate of Life Fire is located between two Kidneys. 

Therefore, the lack of Yang in Kidneys can provoke Yang Deficiency in other Organs, especially the Spleen, Stomach, Lungs and Heart. 

Heart Yang Deficiency

Yang Deficiency can happen to various Organs because of Kidney Yang Deficiency, which is the original of all body Heat because the Gate of Life Fire is located between two Kidneys. 

Therefore, the lack of Yang in Kidneys can provoke Yang Deficiency in other Organs, especially the Spleen, Stomach, Lungs and Heart. 

Kidney Essence Deficiency

Kidney Essence (Jing 精) Deficiency usually involves Deficiency of Kidney Yin and, to some extent, Kidney Yang as well. Vice versa, Yin or Yang Deficiency of the Kidneys can also cause the lacking of Essence. 

Cold in the Uterus

Kidney Yang is the origin of all body Yang. When it is lacking, it affects various Organs, including the Uterus.