Creative Eldering – August 2020 – Your Kidneys
Your Kidneys are protected by your lower ribs and are nestled in the back region of your abdominal cavity. Wearing a kidney belt, as some athletes and truck drivers do, is a way to augment the protection that your ribs provide your kidneys. Each kidney is roughly the size of a closed fist and has the shape and color of a dark red kidney bean. As you look at your closed fist with the thumb on top of your index finger, imagine that the fist represents your kidney and the thumb represents your adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is incredibly important to your energetic and hormonal systems and is closely related to your kidneys, controlled by your kidney Meridian.
Your kidneys identify toxins, poisons, and metabolic waste products and direct those into the urine. These wastes and extra water drain into your bladder, awaiting elimination. (Refer to last month’s article on your bladder.) Your kidneys have several other less obvious functions. They secrete certain hormones that stimulate red blood cell production and that help regulate fluid balance in the body. Kidneys participate in activating vitamin D.
Your kidneys interact with your posterior pituitary gland and a part of your brain called the hypothalamus to control and regulate water and salt proportions in the body. This helps to balance and maintain the volume of plasma and other fluids in your body.
As your kidneys secrete and interact with hormones and vital electrolytes, they directly affect blood pressure regulation. Your kidneys work with your lungs and your liver to maintain homeostasis of your body’s acid-base balance.
The microscopic functional units that perform the filtration in your kidneys are called nephrons. Each kidney contains approximately 1 million nephrons. These each function as a single complicated filter composed of arterioles, a complicated capillary bed (glomerulus), and collecting tubules.
Your tiny nephrons were not designed to deal with great big nasty chemicals. The more sludge you put in, the “dirtier” you will effectively be on the inside. Once your nephrons are overly challenged, their ability to filter anything is diminished. Your kidneys think of food preservatives, food additives, sodas, pesticides, and most medications as great big nasty chemicals that overburden them.
Maintaining proper hydration is life-sustaining, health-promoting, and kidney-protective. One rule of thumb is to simply consume enough water to keep your urine looking much like water or a very pale-yellow color (except for soon after consumption of B vitamins that cause a bright yellow color).
Looking from the viewpoint of the five-element principles, that are inherent to acupuncture theory, can deepen your understanding of how your body functions. Your kidneys are part of the water element. By looking through this lens, holistic practitioners are better able to determine what a specific person’s health issues are and what lifestyle factors, conditions, and treatments may help them. Being adversely affected by winter and cold weather can lend a clue as to an imbalance of the water element and your kidneys. Dryness of skin, eyes, and mouth may indicate a water element imbalance that will adversely affect your kidneys. The water element also correlates to a salty taste. If this is out of balance a person may often experience a salty taste in their mouth, or they may excessively crave salt.
The study of the five elements also brings to light the emotional connection between fear or even terror and your Kidney Meridian. It is important for all of us to examine our fears, even to analyze and process them so that we can work through our fears and move forward in life. Often the best outcome flows from the decision to acknowledge the fear and to pursue the goal or the dream anyway.
Chapter 2 in my book, YOUR BODY CAN TALK, second edition provides additional insight and self-help measures that I encourage you to examine. Refer to page 62. Remember that YOUR BODY CAN TALK, and you need to listen. Listen to your Kidneys and what they need.