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  • Writer's pictureClaire Dean

Dive Deep: Keeping Your Water Element Flowing for Healthy Kidneys (TCM Style)

Updated: Jun 6

Imagine your body as a mini universe, a harmonious dance of five interconnected elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), each element governs specific organs and functions. Today, we're diving into the depths of Water, the element intimately linked to healthy and balanced kidneys and bladder but we will be focusing on the kidneys. 

Water and Your Kidneys: A Deep Connection

Think of your kidneys as powerful filters, constantly cleansing your blood and maintaining essential fluids. In TCM, the Water element symbolizes these functions, representing vitality, growth, and adaptability. Balanced Water translates to strong, resilient kidneys, supporting everything from bone and teeth health, to emotional well-being.

" The Kidneys are responsible for the creation of power. Skill and ability stem from them." (Five Element Constitutional Acupuncture, Hicks, p. 164)

The kidneys also store your jing or the essence and foundation of your qi. Jing is the seed of life itself and you are born with a finite amount. Jing is depleted through working too hard, ejaculating too frequently (for men) or having too many childbirths (for women), taking drugs, eating a poor diet and not getting enough rest or appropriate exercise.

When the Water Gets Rough: Signs of Imbalance

Life throws curveballs, and sometimes, our Water element can get stirred up. This imbalance can manifest in various ways, affecting both your physical and emotional state. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  • Physical: Lower back pain, night sweats, hardness of hearing, oedema of the legs, fatigue, frequent urination, susceptibility to cold, shortness of breath on exertion, difficulty inhaling.

  • Emotional: Fear, anxiety, difficulty letting go, feeling overwhelmed, lack of motivation, overcautious, distrusting.

Restoring Balance: Nourishing Your Water

Traditional Chinese Medicine offers tools to bring your Water element back into harmony, promoting healthy kidneys and overall well-being. Here are some simple steps you can incorporate:


  • Embrace Water: Sounds obvious, but staying hydrated is crucial.

  • Nourish with Water-loving foods: Think dark-colored fruits and veggies (blueberries, blackberries, beets), whole grains (quinoa, brown rice), and kidney-supporting foods like black beans and walnuts.

  • Limit Water-draining foods: Alcohol, excessive salty or sugary foods, and excessive caffeine can deplete your Water element.


  • Flow with gentle movement: Activities like yoga, tai chi, qigong, and breathwork to nourish your kidney jing.

  • Embrace the outdoors: Spending time in nature, especially near water, can be incredibly calming and restorative.


  • Manage stress: Chronic stress can be like a drought for your Water element. Engage in stress-reducing practices like meditation, deep breathing, or spending time with loved ones.

  • Prioritize sleep: Adequate sleep allows your body to restore and rebalance.

  • Acupuncture and Chinese herbs: Consulting a qualified TCM practitioner can provide personalized guidance through acupuncture and herbal formulas to address specific imbalances.

Remember, Traditional Chinese Medicine is a holistic approach, and these tips are just a starting point. By listening to your body and incorporating these practices, you can create a lifestyle that supports the natural flow of your Water element, nurturing healthy kidneys and promoting overall well-being. So, dive deep, explore the wisdom of TCM, and keep your inner river flowing freely!

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