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  • excessive sexual activity
  • prolonged febrile disease
  • continual overwork


To understand the cause for Kidney Yin deficiency we need to quickly review how the concept of Yin and Yang is implemented in Chinese medicine.

Since Yang in nature represents activity, light, warmth it logically represents energy/warming faculty in the human body. Since Yin in nature represents stillness it translates into the material aspect of the human body. In other words Yin represents matter, blood, body fluids, while Yang is the force that makes them come to live.

There is good health when Yin and Yang are in balance (i.e. energy and matter are in balance). When there is deficiency of Yang Yin instantly becomes excessive and vice versa – when there is deficiency of Yin Yang becomes excessive.

Since Yin represents matter in the human body, Yin deficiency of a certain organ means that the organ’s substance is deficient. In the case of Kidney Yin deficiency there is lack of body fluids and since the Kidney is the root organ of the body and nourishes the rest of the organs, this results in overall body “dryness”.




There are many causes that lead to the depletion of Kidney substance. Maybe the most common one is excessive sexual activity as it leads to chronic loss of body fluids. Another cause is prolonged febrile diseases as they manifest with heat, which dries out body fluids. Continual overwork is another cause for Kidney Yin deficiency, as working too much for too long uses up body substance.

When there is yin deficiency in the Kidneys the Kidney Essence (which is part of the Kidney's yin) also becomes deficient. Kidney Essence “produces” the matter that formulates the bone marrow and the brain. Thus deficient Kidney Essence may affect the quality of the brain work as there is not enough Essence to nourish the brain.

When the Yin is deficient for a prolonged period of time, the Yang (the warming principle) becomes excessive, which results in generation of internal heat. Thus beside internal “dryness” heat signs manifest.

If you want to learn more about the kidney and its functions from the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine go the "The Kidney in Chinese medicine" in the Physiology chapter.




  • dry mouth
  • dry throat
  • dry skin
  • constipation
  • scanty dark-yellow urine
  • night sweats
  • feeling hot in the palms, soles, and chest
  • thirst
  • dizziness
  • vertigo
  • poor memory
  • backache


The typical symptom of any organ’s yin deficiency is dryness. Kidney Yin deficiency predominantly manifests in dry mouth, especially at night, but there is also dry throat and dry skin. As there are not enough fluids to nourish the intestines there will be constipation. The urine is scanty and dark-yellow. (1)

The excess Yang has generated heat signs, which manifest as night sweats, feeling hot in the palms, soles, and chest, and thirst. Since there is not enough Essence, to nourish the brain, dizziness, vertigo, and poor memory may manifest. Essence deficiency also fails to nourish the bone marrow therefore backache and bone ache may be experienced. (1)




The treatment principle of Kidney yin deficiency is to build up Kidney yin, moisten dryness, and clear accumulated internal heat. "Substance producing foods" need to be selected. 


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1) Maciocia, Giovanni (1989). The Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Nanjing: Harcourt Publishers Limited

(2) Pitchford, Paul (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books


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