However, the Kidneys in Traditional Chinese Medicine also serve a far greater foundational role. They are considered the “Root of Life” and store Essence which is established at the time of our conception. Essence travels with us during our life and maturation process which help govern growth and developmental stages like puberty, plays a role in our sexual health and libido, reproduction and menopause, and eventually its decline leads to our death. Essence is our basic constitution, our strength, our vitality. Consequently, aging is considered to be a decline of Essence during our lifetime. Fitting enough, the Kidneys open into the ears and manifests in the head hair and produces marrow for the brain – so when you start needing hearing aids due to loss of hearing, your hair starts to turn grey and your memory starts to decline, it is a correlation that your Kidney Essence is dropping or deficient.
In the Kidneys, Essence is also at the root of all the Yin and Yang energies of the body/organs: Yin providing the more material substance and nourishment that helps with birth, growth, reproduction and development and Yang helping with all the physiological processes our body will undergo including the heat and energy it needs to function. It is the “Gate of Life” that provides the heat and Qi (energy) necessary for the body’s functions, which is a point called Mingmen found between both kidneys in the lower back. And speaking of the lower back, dysfunction of the Kidneys can manifests as pain or issues in the lower back and the knees, both common ailments I see in practice.