Acupuncture Research Update: The Kidneys and Chinese Medicine

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The National Institute of Health recently published a study on the effectiveness of Acupuncture on Chronic Kidney Disease. The researchers were specifically looking at the effects on renal function, by evaluating the levels of serum creatinine and established glomerular filtration. The study was done with 53 patients who suffered from chronic kidney disease. Each patient received acupuncture plus electroacupuncture once per week for 12 weeks. The study showed that regular acupuncture treatments can lower the creatinine levels and increase the glomerular filtration rates, which ultimately decreases the symptoms of Chronic Kidney disease. This allows the patient to lead a more normal life.

There are an estimated 31 million people suffering from chronic kidney disease, putting it in ninth place for leading causes of death in the United States. When the function of the kidney decreases it can either be acute or chronic. When the kidney is acute the injury can be caused by a sudden drop in blood flow to the kidneys, which can be damaged from medications, infections or a sudden blockage that prevents urine from flowing out of the kidneys. When the kidneys have received chronic damage, which can be caused by an autoimmune disease, genetic disorder or sexually transmitted disease or even chronic Urinary Tract infection. Despite how it was caused, decreased kidney function can be deadly if not detected or left untreated.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine offers multiple methods to help battle decreased kidney function. The kidneys function is to filter and purify blood though out the body. When there is inadequate blood flow to the kidneys it can lead to a host of problems. The most common form of TCM used is acupuncture.   Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow into areas lacking, allowing the transportation of vital nutrients that keep the tissues healthy and functioning properly. Acupuncture can relieve clinical symptoms of kidney disease, such as fatigue, back pain,headaches, nausea and vomiting.

In TCM the kidneys are the source of yin and yang. Yang is fire and yin is water. When yang is weak or yang is not nourished the body, then the kidney function must be addressed. The kidney also house the essence of Jing in TCM. Think of jing similarly to DNA. Since the kidneys are the most deep seated of the internal organs, they are responsible for providing the tools to fulfill the deepest needs, such as survival and reproduction. While the kidneys house the deep reserve that fuels the body, they are also the organs damaged the most by stress. Bones and marrow are governed by the kidneys in TCM. What this means is that even illnesses like osteoporosis can be related to the kidneys and as such, when treating a patient with these ailments, the kidney meridian must always be included in the treatments.

When you get regular treatments it can improve the health of the kidneys greatly. It’s also important to remember to keep stress levels at a minimum. This is where the practice of Tai Chi or Qi Gong comes into play. All of these practices can help to calm the mind and relieve stress. It should also be pointed out to avoid or manage fear, as it can deplete the energy of the kidney meridian. The kidney meridian can manifest itself physically, in the lower back and knees. Therefore proper stretching and exercises to strengthen the back and leg muscles will be extremely helpful in supporting overall kidney health. A good tip to remember, certain foods can also help your kidneys health, dark foods like black beans, black walnuts, as well as seafood are all excellent kidney tonics.

If you or someone you know is suffering from acute or chronic Kidney disease, please give us a call at Master Lu’s Health Center in Salt Lake City or come in and let’s see what we can do to help in improving your kidney’s health.