The information provided here is not a replacement for a doctor. You shouldn't use it for the purpose of self-diagnosing or self-medicating but rather so you can have a more informed discussion with a professional TCM practitioner.
Chinese name: 肾阳虚
Pinyin name: Shèn Yáng Xū
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.
Please keep in mind that a Western Medicine condition can be caused by several Chinese Medicine patterns of disharmony and vice versa. As such a patient suffering from one of the conditions below will not necessarily be suffering from Kidney Yang Deficiency, it is just one pattern that's commonly associated with the condition. Click on a condition to learn what other patterns it's associated with.
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
The Kidneys is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Kidneys in Chinese Medicine
Pulse type(s): Deep (Chen) or slow (Chi)
Tongue coating: Thin white coating
Tongue color: Pale
Tongue shape: Swollen
Possible symptoms: Edema Asthma Chills Dysuria Coughing Tinnitus Impotence Sore back Dizziness Pale face Back pain Dark face Tiredness Knee pain Cold limbs Depression Weak Limbs Weak knees Infertility Late period Hot flushes Poor memory Fear of cold Loose stools Incontinence Night sweats Spermatorrhea Poor appetite Abdominal pain Scanty periods Sore lower back Lower back pain Premature aging Feeling of cold Aversion to cold Cold extremities Oedema of ankles Frequent urination Urinary difficulty Pale color periods Abdominal fullness Persistent diarrhea Nocturnal emissions Cold hands and feet Premature menopause Pale menstrual blood Prostatic hypertrophy Scanty clear urination Absence of menstruation Thin and watery periods Lower abdominal pressure Thin body lacking strength Spasms of the lower abdomen Cold in the lower extremities Edema of the lower extremities Weakness and aching in the knees Exhaustion from long-term illness Weakness of the lower extremities Thin and watery vaginal discharge Soreness and weakness in the lower back Cold sensation in the lower half of the body
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).
Source date: 1624 AD
Number of ingredients: 10 herbs
Key actions: Warms and tonifies Kidney Yang. Replenishes the Essence. Tonifies the Blood.
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.
Source date: 220 AD
Number of ingredients: 8 herbs
Key actions: Tonifies Yang. Warms the Kidneys and lower extremities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Typical symptoms for menopausal syndrome caused by Kidney Yang Deficiency: Chills Pale face Back pain Dizziness Depression Hot flushes Night sweats Poor appetite Sore lower back Premature aging Oedema of ankles Abdominal fullness Cold hands and feet Premature menopause Absence of menstruation Thin body lacking strength
Recommended herbal formula: You Gui Wan
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.