Articles – Kidney

The Kidney as the Root of the Body

Prof Song Xuan Ke

In Chinese Medicine, the kidney is considered the most important organ in the body. Physiologically, as we all know, it is the key organ involved in purifying the blood, eliminating toxins from the body by means of urination. It is also, as is often forgotten, the rejuvenating recycling source of the body. Every four minutes the total volume of blood in one’s body passes through and is ‘filtered’ by the kidney. This process not only clears away toxins, but also helps recycle nutrients carried in the blood, such as sugar, vitamins and minerals etc. Pathologically, many chronic illnesses are caused by the failure of such recycling processes of the kidneys. In Chinese Medicine, this is diagnosed as kidney deficiency.

Osteoporosis, for example, is a common problem amongst the elderly. As is widely known, the problem here lies in the decalcification of the bone: the lack of calcium. Western medicine addresses the problem by increasing the patients’ daily dose of calcium. They are advised to drink more milk, or take supplementary calcium tablets. But the results are often dissatisfactory. There are cases where a patient is already taking five or ten times the recommended daily allowance of calcium but continues to display symptoms of calcium deficiency; the patients’ body continues to dissolve its own bone (the process of decalcification) to increase the level of calcium in the blood, in order to maintain calcium levels for certain vital organs of the body to function normally (for the beating of the heart for example), resulting in the deterioration of osteoporosis.

So why does taking more calcium not help solve the problem of osteoporosis? This is because the treatment prescribed by western medicine focuses on the superficial cause of calcium deficiency. It does not deal with why the body lacks calcium in the first place, the cause and root of the problem; the kidneys inability to retain calcium, resulting in its ‘leaking away’. The kidneys of elderly people are normally weak, through natural wear and tear, or misuse: the result of drinking too much coffee or alcohol for example etc. These weak kidneys are constantly leaking any nutrients, such as calcium, ingested. Thus, you can never replace the leakage fast enough – this is not to mention the slow absorption rate of the digestive systems of the elderly, which exacerbates the condition. I often describe such a condition with the help of an analogy; it’s no use trying desperately to run a car on a leaking tank; it does not matter how much petrol you put in, for the leakage ensures that there will never be enough for the car to run normally. Therefore we must focus on the root of the problem. We can only treat such decalcification by treating the leaking of calcium by the kidneys.

Thanks to thousands of years of experience, Chinese Medicine has developed the concept of strengthening kidneys. By consulting an experienced Chinese Doctor, the particular kind of kidney deficiency can be determined and a few herbal pills prescribed to strengthen the kidney against that particular kind of deficiency and the kidney leakage stopped. The osteoporosis can then be halted and even reversed and healed.