• chronic illness
  • internal dampness
  • excessive sexual activity
  • old age


To understand the cause for Kidney Yang 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.

In Chinese medicine the Kidney is the root organ of the body. Thus it is the foundation of all Yin and all Yang qualities in the body. This means that the state of “Kidney Yin” determines the state of Yin in the other organs and the state of “Kidney Yang” determines the state of Yang in the other organs, and in the body as a whole.


Kidney Yang


As we know anything in Nature that is energizing is also warming. Since Yang is the force that brings Yin (the substance/matter) to life, Yang is also the warming principle of the body. If the Kidney Yang is deficient the warmth of the body will diminish.  Thus a deficient Kidney Yang will manifest in “internal coldness”.

There are many causes that lead to the reduction of Kidney Yang. Chronic illness may consume the warming faculty of the body, as this is the energy the body uses to fight the pathogen. “Internal dampness” cools the warming faculty. Excessive sexual activity also leads to the exhaustion of Kidney Yang. The most common reason for Kidney Yang depletion is old age (1)

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.




  • aversion to cold
  • sensation of cold in the back
  • cold knees
  • lassitude
  • mental lethargy
  • lack of sexual desire
  • sterility
  • loose stools
  • frequent urination
  • edema
  • clear vaginal discharge in women
  • irregular menstruation in women


As mentioned above the main manifestation of Kidney Yang deficiency is “coldness”. Aversion to cold, sensation of cold in the back, and cold knees are all typical symptoms of Kidney yang deficiency. As the force and warming principle are diminished lassitude, mental lethargy, and poor spirit manifest. There is lack of sexual desire and there may be sterility. Since there is not enough energy to hold and contain there is loose stools, frequent urination and edema. Women have clear vaginal discharge, and the menses may be irregular.  (2)






The treatment principle of Kidney Yang deficiency is to tonify Yang and warm the body. Warm/hot foods, herbs and spices are needed.  

If you want to read the rest of this article and learn the foods and acupressure points that are healing for this condition (as well as watch the instructional acupressure point location videos) you can do so by subscribing to the Customized options of this project. To learn the other benefits you will get as a subscriber click here.



(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


Related Articles:

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The Kidney, season winter, and foods that benefit the Kidney during winter

Herbs that tonify Yang and benefit Kidney Yang deficiency

Deficiency of Kidney Yin

Herbs that tonify Yin and benefit Kidney Yin deficiency

Deficiency of Kidney Qi

Herbs that tonify Qi and benefit Kidney Qi deficiency

Deficiency of Kidney Essence

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