Influence of kidneys on the growth and fertility of a human in Chinese medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, kidney Jing is a special concept. The Yin and Yang of an internal organ are two physical attributes of an internal organ; the Qi of an internal organ is the energy that performs the functions of the internal organ. In a broad sense, each internal organ has Jing. But in a narrow sense, Jing is a kind of special substance that is stored in kidneys and supports the growth and fertility of a human. Kidney Jing contains inborn Jing and acquired Jing.

Inborn basis and acquired basis of a human

In Chinese medicine, the spleen and the stomach are called the acquired basis, because the forming of Qi and blood and the sustaining of a life depend on the water and nutrients, which are called the essence of water and grain and are digested and absorbed from food by the spleen and the stomach. Acquired Jing is from the essence of water and grain.

The kidneys are called the inborn basis, because the primary Jing that is given by parents is stored in the kidneys. Ling Shu, the theoretical classic of Chinese medicine, vividly describes how the inborn Jing is formed: “Two souls stick each other, and combine into a shape, and the thing that is formed before the birth of a human is called Jing.”

After the birth of a human, inborn Jing is nourished by acquired Jing. Chinese medicine often speaks of kidney Jing and kidney Qi at the same time, because kidney Qi is transformed from kidney Jing. Kidney Jing is not kidney Yin but it also has the attribute of Yin, while kidney Qi is not kidney Yang but it also has the attribute of Yang. When kidney Jing is sufficient, kidney Qi is strengthened. When kidney Jing is deficient, kidney Qi is weakened. Su Wen, the theoretical classic of Chinese medicine, describes the connections between kidney Qi and the growth and fertility of a human, which actually describes the influence of kidney Jing.

Text from Su Wen about how kidney Jing influences the growth and fertility of a human

When a female is seven years old, kidney Qi is strong, teeth are changing, and hair is growing.

When she is fourteen years old, Tiangui comes, the meridian of Ren is unblocked, the meridian of Chong is strong, and menstruation comes regularly, so she is able to have babies.

When she is twenty-one years old, kidney Qi is in stable status, so the last teeth grow, and she is not able to grow taller.

When she is twenty-eight years old, tendons and bones are firm, hair reaches its maximum length, and the body is strong.

When she is thirty-five years old, the meridian of Yangming weakens, the face starts to become withered, and hair begins losing.

When she is forty-two years old, the three Yang meridians weaken in the head, the face is withered, and hair starts to be white.

When she is forty-nine years old, the meridian of Ren is deficient, the meridian of Chong is weak, Tiangui is exhausted, the channel of menstruation is blocked, so the appearance is completely changed, and is not able to have babies any more.

When a male is eight years old, kidney Qi is sufficient, hair are growing, and teeth are changing.

When he is sixteen years old, kidney Qi is strong, Tiangui comes, Jing and Qi overflow, and Yin and Yang are in harmony, so he is able to have babies.

When he is twenty-four years old, kidney Qi is in the stable status, so the last teeth grow, and he is not able to grow taller.

When he is thirty-two years old, tendons and bones are strong, and muscles grow fully.

When he is forty years old, kidney Qi is weakening, hair is getting loss, and teeth are being withered.

When he is forty-eight years old, Yang Qi becomes weak in the head, the face is withered, and hair become grey.

When he is fifty-six years old, liver Qi is weak, tendons are not able to move.

When he is sixty-four years old, Tiangui is exhausted, Jing is deficient, the kidneys are weak, the appearance and the body are in exhaustion, so teeth and hair are lost.

In the extant ancient editions of Su Wen, which are copies of an edition printed in the Song Dynasty, the last two sentences are: “When he is fifty-six years old, liver Qi is weak, tendons are not able to move, Tiangui is exhausted, Jing is deficient, the kidneys are weak, and the appearace and the body are in exhaustion. When he is sixty-four years old, teeth and hair are lost.”However, according to an annotation included in the editions, the two sentences should have a misprint, so now here they are corrected.

Problems of growth caused by the deficiency of kidney Jing and kidney Qi

From childhood to old age, the Jing and Qi of the kidneys have the changes from a small amount to a high amount, and then from strong status to weak status, shown by the changes of teeth, bones and hair.

The deficiency of kidney Jing and kidney Qi may cause a child to have the problems of growth. In Chinese medicine, the problems include five kinds of delays and five kinds of softness. Five kinds of delays are the delay of being able to stand, the delay of being able to speak, the delay of being able to walk, the delay of hair growth, and the delay of teeth growth. Five kinds of softness are the softness of the head, the softness of the neck, the softness of hands and feet, the softness of muscles, and the softness of mouth. The deficiency of kidney Jing and kidney Qi may also cause an adult to age early.

The growth of reproductive organs, the maturing and maintaining of sexual function, and the ability to have babies depend on the status of Jing and Qi of the kidneys. In the adolescence of a human, a special substance named Tiangui starts to appear in the body, which make the human have the ability to have babies. After Tiangui is exhausted, a woman doesn’t have menstruation and fertility any longer, and the fertility of a man also severely weakens.

In Chinese medicine, strengthening kidney Jing and kidney Qi is a common way for improving some kinds of inborn diseases, the delay of growth, the weakness of sexual function, and some kinds of primary infertility, and for the purposes of having a healthy baby, having a strong body, and preventing aging early.

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