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Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Chinese medicine: How the Kidneys influence your Fertility

Fertility in Chinese Medicine and your kidneys

The kidneys belong to the water element in Traditional Chinese Medicine. They create our sense of being rooted in our life and feeling inner security. Most importantly, they are the foundation for all of the body’s yin and yang energies. Some of their functions are: govern growth, development, water metabolism, reproduction and aging. Furthermore, they store the kidney essence. Also called jing which is considered to be the root of life of all aspects of human life. In Chinese medicine we see a kidney deficiency as one of the most common causes for fertility issues.

Some mental-emotional signs that your kidneys are out of whack are:

  • Not wanting to be by oneself.
  • Fear of social gatherings.
  • Difficulties to love oneself.
  • Feeling of unworthiness.
  • Searching for the purpose in life.
  • Not feeling secure and rooted in life.
  • Not using one’s full potential.
  • Feeling critical with oneself and others.
  • Fear of financial insecurity and the future.
  • Defining oneself by its roles and status in life.

Do you identify yourself with many of these aspects? Then it’s very probable that your kidneys are out of balance.

Your kidneys strongly influence your fertility and menstruation. Consequently, a kidney deficiency is at the root of many women´s problems like: infertility, amenorrhea, scanty or heavy periods, irregular periods, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and miscarriage. Let´s look today at their role in fertility.

Understanding kidney-yin and kidney-yang

The kidneys in Chinese medicine have a yin part (left kidney) and yang part (right kidney).

Kidney-yin corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system and is responsible for restoration and regeneration. When deficient it can show symptoms of:

  • exhaustion
  • feeling of heat
  • frequent and sudden urination
  • restlessness and anxiety
  • insomnia and sleeping disorders
  • dry skin, eyes and mucous membranes
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth and throat
  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • spontaneous sweating
  • often constipation esp. before period
  • vaginal dryness
  • dark scanty urine
  • a pale face with flushed red cheeks
  • a red peeled tongue

Kidney-yang is the foundation of the yang qi in the whole body. Its mission is to warm the whole body to promote the proper functioning of all organs and tissues. Therefore, when deficient we can experience symptoms of:

  • exhaustion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of joie de vivre and vitality up to depression
  • feeling cold and aversion to cold
  • declining or loss of libido
  • difficulty in urination and incontinence
  • excessive passage of urine at night
  • water retention and edema
  • lower backache esp. with menses
  • low BBT readings
  • often diarrhea esp. before or at the beginning of the period
  • cold feet
  • pale tongue

In practice we nearly always see a simultaneous deficiency of both as the two are inseparably linked. This can also lead to contradictory symptoms in women e.g.: feeling of heat of the face while having cold feet.

For getting a better understanding how they work together you could imagine that kidney-yin and kidney-yang are like an old-fashioned oil-lamp. Where kidney-yin is representing the oil and kidney-yang the flame. In other words, if there is not enough oil, the flame can die down and vice versa.

How the kidneys influence the fertilitzation process

In the reproductive system the kidney-yin is responsible for the quality of the ova (substance). While, the kidney-yang matures the follicles and provides the heat that ovulation can happen. Additionally, it is in charge of that the lining of the uterus thickens to prepare for the fertilized egg. As a result, we can see if ovulation happened in the BBT monitoring (basal body temperature) by a temperature rise after ovulation.

Consequently, we can conclude that if there are not many ova and / or the quality of the ova is poor the kidney-yin is weak. Whereas, a deficient kidney-yang can show the following symptoms: the ova is not ripening, ovulation is not happening and the uterus lining not thickening.

Furthermore, the ovaries produce the two sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Both are crucial for conceiving and a healthy pregnancy. As a conclusion we can say that if there are low oestrogen levels, a woman can show symptoms of kidney-yin deficiency. Whereas, in case of low progesterone levels, symptoms of kidney-yang deficiency can be detected.

A kidney deficiency can be one of the reasons for recurrent miscarriages.

The main reasons for a kidney deficiency are: poor diet, chronic stress, long persisting emotional problems, certain medications, an inherited poor constitution, smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

Optimizing female fertility with natural therapies

Hormonal balance is then given when the warming (yang) and cooling (yin) functions of the body are well-balanced. For women showing any signs of kidney deficiency and menstruation problems the following treatments can be applied in my practice: dietary recommendations, acupuncture, herbal and yoga therapy and Bach flower essences.

References

Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese Medicine. 2nd Edition. by Giovanni Maciocia

Also see my other articles

What are low AMH levels or Anti-Mullerian hormone and how does it affect fertility?

How to Improve your Fertility Naturally

Female Sexuality & Chinese Medicine: Solving Sexual Problems Naturally

Hormone Yoga Therapy: Balance your Hormones for Optimal Health

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you!

Endometriosis and Diet – Foods to avoid and what you should eat more of to help relieve symptoms

Endometriosis and Diet – Foods to avoid and what you should eat more of to help relieve symptoms

What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disease that occurs when the uterine lining appears outside the uterine cavity. This can be within the uterine musculature, but also outside the uterus. As a result, it’s possible to find uterine tissue throughout the whole body, reaching from the ovaries, fallopian tubes, intestines, lungs, diaphragm and even as far as the brain. 

This stray tissue reacts to hormonal cycles like the normal endometrium, meaning it bleeds during menstruation. Therefore, the type of symptoms that affect each individual largely depends on the location and the amount of tissue.

High levels of oestrogen and low progesterone levels are often detected in women with endometriosis. Normally the troubles lessen or even vanish after menopause as the body produces less hormones in particular, oestrogen.  

What are the symptoms?

Women between 25 – 45 years are mostly affected but it can already develop in the teenage years. In approx. 50% of cases, there are no complaints and women are often diagnosed with endometriosis during a check-up after suffering infertility.

In circa 50% of the other cases, women with endometriosis often report symptoms like:

  • back pain especially in the lower back
  • lower abdominal pain or bloating
  • mild to extremely painful periods
  • infertility
  • pain during intercourse
  • cyclic or chronic pelvic pain
  • inter-menstrual bleeding
  • excessive bleeding
  • blood in the urine or stool
  • pain during bowel movement and urination

The symptoms experienced can be cyclical in their pattern. Endometriosis is divided into stages I-IV of severity and, in the worst case, can lead to intestinal obstruction, adhesions, bloody cysts, inflammations and ectopic pregnancies. It can widely affect a woman’s quality of life and relationships as well as her sexual life.

What causes endometriosis? 

There are various theories for the causes of endometriosis and it is still not fully understood by Western medicine. Besides retrograde menstruation, a weakness of the immune system and trigger factors, such as hormonal and vegetative components are considered.

Several toxicological factors can promote the disease like plasticisers, pesticides, insecticides, heavy metals and other parameters.

A genetic predisposition can be seen as well and often several women in the same family lineage are affected.

Another important factor is diet. Endometriosis relates in particular to oxidative stress caused by smoking, malnutrition, and chemical dyes and additives in foods. Women with endometriosis absorb significantly fewer antioxidants like vitamin C + E, vitamin Bs, copper, zinc and selenium. Often low vitamin D levels are detected.

Diet and endometriosis 

The diet for endometriosis calms the immune system: to reduce inflammation, ease pain, promote healthy gut flora, lower oestrogen levels and to achieve normal hormonal levels.

Foods you should avoid

Meat rich in arachidonic acid like duck, beef, pork, lamb, mutton, veal, venison, goat and turkey. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid is associated with oxidative stress and is said to increase inflammation. Avoid as well meat from factory farming as they use antibiotics and growth hormones to accelerate weight gain and your system can be affected by both.

Alcohol reduces levels of vitamin B which is needed for a proper liver detoxification.

Dairy foods like cheese, milk, yoghurt, butter, ice cream, condensed milk and any other product that contains milk powder. Dairy is known to be one of the most inflammatory food sources and should be cut off for a certain period of time. 

Hydrogenated fats (also called trans-fatty acids) like stick margarine, bakery products, processed foods, crackers, fast foods and fried foods. These unhealthy fats can increase inflammation and have an impact on the liver’s health and are really hard to digest.

Oestrogen and phytoestrogen-rich foods like soy milk, soybeans, tofu, tempeh any other soy product. Garlic, multigrain bread, flax seeds and flax seeds bread, sesame seeds, walnuts, chestnut, almonds, pistachios, red wine, dried fruits, red meat, animal fats and especially hormonally treated meat. Many women with endometriosis have an oestrogen dominance and should lower their intake of foods rich in these.

Best foods to consume

Eat plenty of foods rich in omega 3 fats like hemp seeds, seaweed, chia seeds, salmon, mackerel, oyster, anchovies, sardine, shellfish, cod liver oil (also rich in vitamin D) and caviar. Omega 3 fats are said to have anti-inflammatory effects.

Consume foods rich in vitamin Bs like sunflower seeds, green vegetables, fresh green herbs, whole grains, nutritional yeast, trout, tuna, salmon, egg (prefer free-range and eat in moderation). A diet rich in vitamin B and omega 3 fats has shown to lower pain in endometriosis and to regulate cell growth.

Choose organic foods over conventional foods to lower your intake of pesticides and chemical herbicides which can affect hormonal balance. Organic foods often contain higher levels of minerals and vitamins.

Consume more foods that balance oestrogen levels like carrots, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, wholemeal cereals. Eaten regularly they support a healthy oestrogen level in the body.

Add more foods that support healthy liver function like leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, mustard greens, etc), artichoke, dandelion, milk thistle, chicory, peppermint, olive, and green fresh herbs. Keep in mind that the liver’s health is crucial for having balanced oestrogen levels. 

Consume enough magnesium which you find in whole grains, almonds, legumes, pumpkin and chia seeds, quinoa, mackerel, salmon and leafy green vegetables. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant and can help to ease pain. Furthermore, it helps in energy production and is important for our endocrine system.

Have a diet which is rich in antioxidants Therefore, increase your intake of red and blueberries, goji berries, beans, prune, spinach, pecan, walnut, apple, green tea, mackerel, salmon, sardine and herring. Foods rich in antioxidants will increase the levels in your blood and binds free radicals and consequently prevents cell damage. 

Fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, miso and kombucha. They support a healthy gut bacteria and as a result strengthen the immune system to fight again inflammation. 

Turmeric also called curcuma has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and also supports a healthy liver.

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.

Some literature links and references

Diet and endometriosis risk
https://www.rbmojournal.com/article/S1472-6483(13)00007-2/fulltext 

Evaluation of the Relationship between Endometriosis and Omega-3 and Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614254/ 

Endometriosis and Fertility
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5351695/ 

Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594223

Lewis, Randine. The Infertility Cure. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004

 

Congee: Health Benefits and How to Make this Rice Porridge

Congee: Health Benefits and How to Make this Rice Porridge

Congee is a healing rice porridge used as an everyday medicine to heal and sustain your health

Where does this healthy, simple rice porridge come from?

This ancient recipe from Traditional Chinese Medicine heals your gut health and is a real dish for kings. Food is one of the most important pillars of sustaining health and therefore, congee is high up the list! This silky, savoury porridge is an everyday breakfast in China and in some other parts of the world. Congee is also called jook, khao tom moo, and arroz caldo.

What are the health benefits of eating congee?

To be straight with you, you have probably eaten more intense flavoured dishes. However, this simple grain soup is easily digested and assimilated, tonifies the blood and the Qi, harmonizes the digestion and soothes inflammation. It ensures an optimal balance for Yin and Yang which results in good health. If you want to detox your body, cure your intestinal flora, lose some weight or enhance energy circulation, eat this creamy rice porridge on a regular basis.

Which health problems can be addressed with congee?

– red skin rashes like atopic dermatitis, eczema, acne
– water retention (oedema)
– overweight
– food allergies
– digestive problems, especially stomach burning, soft stools, diarrhoea
– hot flashes
– cellulite
– endometriosis
– cysts, fibroids and myomas
– chronic bladder infections and urinary tract infections
– headaches and migraines
– menstruation problems
– recurrent lung infections and respiratory allergies
– congested nose and sinuses

When should you avoid eating congee?

– during pregnancy
– if you are underweight or suffering from anorexia
– if you have chronic ice-cold feet and constant freezing
– if you are experiencing chronic constipation and hard, painful stools
– when feeling very weak and exhausted

Do you want a better and more aligned life to achieve deeply desired results? A life with more energy, a peaceful mind, and habits that go toward lifelong health and wellness? Discover my health and lifestyle program Embody to Thrive.
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How to make congee?

To prepare congee, you simply need to simmer a small amount of rice in a large amount of water for several hours (3-4 hours).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice (around 100g)
  • 10 cups of water

The proportion must be 1: 10. If your digestion is weak, take white rice. Otherwise, I recommend you whole grain rice. Always take organic rice to lower the risk of having arsenic in your rice.

Equipment

Pressure cooker (needs less cooking time, around 1-2 hours) or saucepan with a lid.

How to cook

  • Combine the rice and water in the cooker.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover.
  • Continue simmering for around 3-4 hours (pressure cooker less). Stir the congee from time to time. If the porridge is getting too stiff, add more water.
  • Serve the congee in a bowl and enjoy with a spoon. No spices, salt and fat are added.

Congee can also be cooked from other grains depending on the therapeutic goals.

How often should I eat congee?

This depends on which issues and goals you have. You can replace one of your regular daily meals with a bowl of congee. Ideally eaten in the morning between 7 – 11 am as this is when the spleen and stomach are most active. The congee warms up the digestive system and sets a good foundation for the body to absorb the nutrients from the rest of the food that you will eat throughout the day.

If you want to do a rice cure, simply eat the congee for 3 to 7 days. At least 3 days are necessary, as it is during this period of time that a person’s gut bacteria changes. To further help the body rinse out the toxins, it is recommended that you drink plenty of hot, boiled water and herbal teas based on your personal demand. If you have slight problems of evacuation of the bowels, soak some chia seeds overnight in water and add them to your congee.

How would it feel to free yourself from your symptoms?  Ready to change and invest time and energy to get to the root of your problem? Then book your session now. I am looking forward to meeting you.