Bits & Bites #208 - Health: TCM: Kidney (and Western Medical Tests) and Liver (and Eye Colour)

Sunday 5 August 2018

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Main Functions of Kidney

1. Filter the blood and remove wastes such as BUN and creatinine (refer below).
Dirty blood that goes into the kidney is cleansed by nephrons in the kidney. The fresh blood then goes back into circulation. The dialysis machines perform this function when kidneys of patients no longer have the ability to filter their blood.

2. Control body's fluid balance and regulate balance of electrolytes:

One of the symptoms of deteriorating kidney function is fluid retention, mostly in the lower part of the body. There are 2 kinds of water retention:
(i) In the area below abdomen.
(ii) Abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity (ascites). The most common cause is cirrhosis of the liver.

Minerals in our body carry electric charges. The balance of electrolytes are vital for normal functioning of the human body. Diarrhoea can cause an imbalance in the electrolytes.

(a) Calcium : Phosphorus should be in the ratio of 2 : 1.
If the presence of calcium is too high, it will cause calcification and hardening of arteries, leading to strokes or heart attacks.
If calcium depletes too much, you may get osteoporosis and your blood pressure may shoot up.

(b) Natrium (Sodium) : Potassium ratio
From TCM point of view, when kidney is damaged, one craves for salty food. By the same token, people who like to eat salty food will damage their kidneys eventually. People with high blood pressure like to eat salty food. When the level of potassium is higher, it can eliminate excessive sodium and thus keep the blood pressure down.

(c) pH value is maintained at 7.35 - 7.45.

3. Produce renin enzyme and regulate blood pressure. When you are under stress, renin level increases, and blood pressure increases.

4. Produce erythropoietin (EPO) hormones which stimulate the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow. People with anaemia have low EPO level.


Causes of Kidney Damage

a) Drugs/medication, including usage of viagra.

b) Cold drinks. Drinking tap water (even though it is filtered) contributes to weakening the kidney (because it is yin in nature and depletes the kidney essence). It is better to drink boiled water. From TCM point of view, depletion of kidney essence can be seen from symptoms such as hair loss, hearing problem, tinnitus, teeth start to loosen and unable to stand for long.

c) Too much sex.

d) Salty food.

e) High blood pressure is one of the most common causes of kidney failure. That's because it can damage the arteries leading into the kidney and the glomeruli within the kidneys. Damage to either results in the kidney being unable to effectively filter waste from the blood. As a result, dangerous levels of fluids and wastes can accumulate, ultimately requiring dialysis or kidney transplant.

f) Infection or inflammation and auto-immune diseases e.g. SLE.

g) Obstruction of urinary tract due to enlarged prostate or kidney stones.


Symptoms of Weakening Kidney

Purplish coloured tongue.

Blood pressure reading is high, but the person feels normal. This is not due to hypertension disease. Rather, when the body is cold, the blood vessels constrict, hence blood pressure shoots up. ACE is the enzyme that controls our blood pressure. When you are cold, adrenal glands release ACE, which alerts your body to preserve the warmth by constricting the blood vessels, which increases blood pressure.

Needle-like pain at the sole of the feet.

- Body feels very cold or very hot. Under TCM theory, kidney is the body organ that adjusts the body temperature. When the kidney weakens, the body temperature can fluctuate out of control and you will suddenly feel too hot alternating with too cold.

- Reduced amount of urine despite drinking a lot of water, due to water retention problem - causing swelling of the legs, ankles and feet.

- Unexplained shortness of breath.

- Excessive drowsiness or fatigue.

- Persistent nausea, confusion, pain or pressure in the chest.

- Darker skin tone on the face.

- Limbs are weak - cannot stand for long.


Western Medical Tests on kidney usually focus on checking:

(i) The kidney's ability to filter urea nitrogen (Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) test).

When we eat protein, it will be digested into amino acid, and converted to other usable materials by the liver. A process converts nitrogen from amino acid into ammonia, which is converted by the liver into urea (a chemical waste product). The urea travels from the liver to kidney to be passed out through urine. A healthy kidney can filter the urea and remove it from the blood and pass out through urine.

A BUN test normal range is 7 - 20 mg/dL (2.5 - 7.1 mmol/L). A person has kidney problem if his BUN reading is high. It means his kidney can no longer filter the waste of protein. You would notice that when the doctor finds you have kidney problem, he will stop you from taking too much protein.

But you cannot not take protein as 30% of your body is made up of protein, which is the basic building material to produce blood cells, hormones etc. Consider taking Jia Hor Soya Protein, as it gives no burden to your kidney.

(ii) Creatinine is a waste product from protein in your diet and normal breakdown of muscles in your body. People with kidney disease will have a higher level of creatinine in the blood. If creatinine is not eliminated, you will start to feel muscle aches. Normal range is 0.7 - 1.3 mg/dL (men) and 0.6 - 1.1 mg.dL (women).

(iii) GFR (glomerular filtration rate) test estimates how well the kidney is filtering blood (through glomerulus) to remove wastes and extra water. If the filtration capability is good, your kidney function is considered good. A GFR over 60 mL/min/1.73m2 is adequate. Normal GFR is above 90 and GFR below15 indicates kidney failure.

Consumption of too much drugs can cause GFR reading to fall very fast as the kidney has more burden to remove a lot of wastes such as the binders, fillers and colourings that form the drugs.

(iv) Uric acid test. People with weak kidney should not eat too much high uric acid food such as anchovies, peanuts, beans and internal organs. Normal range is 3.4-7 mg/dL for men and 2.4-6 mg/dL for women.


Your health from your Eyes:

a) Clear demarkation between the black and white of eye - liver is healthy.

b) Bluish rim around black of eye - arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries).

c) Lines all along iris - stress.

d) Yellowish layer on top of black of eye - high cholesterol. Feel heat on top of scalp when under the sun. Tend to doze off easily.

e) Blood stains on white of eye - liver heat and cannot sleep well.

f) Yellowish on white of eye - liver not healthy as cannot metabolise bilirubin. Also indication of fatty liver problem (liver is losing its function to eliminate oil).


The liver plays a critical role in metabolising uric acid, calcium etc before the kidney can pass them out through urine. If the functions of either the kidney or liver deteriorate and they have problem processing these chemicals, the uric acid will build up inside the body causing gout whereas calcium build-up in the blood will cause stones. Hence it is critical to maintain the detox ability of the liver and kidney.


If the liver is damaged, it is easier for Lingzhi to help repair the damage and generate new liver cells. Yung Kien Ganoderma has been accredited with liver protection ability by the Taiwan's Ministry of Health.
However, if the kidney is damaged, it is more difficult to rescue. It is harder for Lingzhi to help regrow new kidney cells.

This post is part of a series sharing Bits of mishmash on health, my business and life in general, which I find inspirational, enlightening or enriching. And Bites of delicious food I have enjoyed.

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