It’s TCM pop quiz time! Answer this multiple-choice question:
Name the primary TCM organ system vital for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
E: None of the Above
The answer is…
…Sorry to trick you, but it’s none of the above.
The correct answer is…
Kidneys in TCM: The Anti-Aging Meridian
To the uninitiated, the Kidney organ system of TCM, one of 12 primary energy pathways (channels or meridians), involves the physical kidneys of Western medicine and several energetic functions. These energetic functions include the following:
- Foundation of Yin and Yang: The Kidneys store and control the release of these essential energies and are the root of life and the source of vital energy (Qi).
- Storage of Essence (Jing): Jing is a precious substance composed of your constitutional (inherited genetic material) energy and the energy you acquire from food and air. Jing is necessary for growth, development, sexual function and reproduction.
- Water Metabolism: The Kidneys transform and transport fluids, ensuring a balance between moisture and dryness. Proper water metabolism is crucial for maintaining the health of various tissues and organs.
- Production of Marrow: In TCM, Marrow includes the brain and spinal cord. Supporting marrow production is paramount for promoting cognitive function and overall well-being.
- Control of the Lower Orifices: The Kidneys “grasp” the Qi and control the lower orifices, which helps maintain proper bowel and bladder function.
- Support Bone Health: Adequate Kidney Essence nourishes the bones, contributing to strength and resilience.
As you can see, having balanced Yin and Yang Qi in the Kidneys is vital for overall health. Unfortunately, it’s easy for this balance to be thrown out of whack because of the usual host of modern stressors such as poor diet, being overworked (and underpaid), lack of exercise, and pollution.
If you want to support a healthy aging process, it’s critical to have healthy Kidney organ system function. Now let’s add one more important function of the Kidney meridian: regulating blood sugar.
How Do the TCM Kidneys Impact Blood Sugar?
Now that you understand how the TCM Kidneys impact Yin and Yang Qi balance, let’s look at how this affects blood sugar levels.
Yin Qi in the Kidney meridian cools, nourishes and moistens. When there is an imbalance in Kidney Yin, Yin deficiency can manifest. Symptoms of this TCM pattern are similar to those that indicate blood sugar imbalances.
Signs of excessive heat and dryness from Yin Deficiency include thirst, excessive urination, numbness and tingling.
Kidney Yang deficiency can translate as insufficient stimulation in the body to yield an effective insulin response.
But it’s not just Kidney Yin that can affect blood sugar levels. The warming, activating, and transformative functions of Kidney Yang are responsible for transforming the essence stored in the Kidneys into Qi. This warmth generated from Kidney Yang kickstarts various physiological processes. Combining TCM philosophy with Western physiology, it could be said that Kidney Yang deficiency can translate as insufficient stimulation in the body to yield an effective insulin response.
Without sufficient Yang energy, the body may struggle to transform the essence into usable energy, leading to symptoms such as tiredness, cold limbs, and metabolic dysfunction such as insulin resistance.
It’s essential to add that the Kidneys are certainly not the only organ responsible for regulating blood sugar. The Spleen organ system is arguably just as important. A deficiency of Spleen Qi can result in excessive hunger, blurry vision, poor cognitive function, and slow healing. Many people don’t associate some of these signs of Spleen Qi deficiency with blood sugar imbalance.
How TCM Supports Blood Sugar Levels
(Disclaimer: If you have blood sugar management problems, consult your physician, and if you are taking medication, do not stop taking it. This article is intended for people to support their blood sugar levels within an already normal range.)
There’s no magic silver bullet for managing blood sugar levels. It requires a multi-faceted approach. Obviously, diet, exercise and stress management are vital. From a TCM perspective, acupuncture and herbal formulas that nourish Kidney Yin, such as YinVive and GlucoAssure, may help support blood sugar levels.
6 Simple Blood Sugar Hacks
In addition, you can also try supporting your blood sugar levels by trying these diet and lifestyle hacks:
- Walk. Go for a 10-minute walk after meals. Several research studies support this. A 2022 experiment in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded walking was the most effective post-prandial strategy for glucose control, even more effective than bench step-ups.
- Continuous Glucose Monitors (GCM). Purchase a GCM to see your blood sugar levels in real-time. Pay attention to how certain foods impact your blood glucose levels.
- Apps for appetizers. Use a free app to measure the potential blood-sugar-spiking effects of certain foods. (Hint: donuts will send your glucose through the roof.)
- Eat a protein-rich breakfast. According to research, sufficient protein is necessary to keep blood glucose levels lower and steadier.
- Drink vinegar water. Drink a cup of water with a tablespoon of vinegar before a starchy meal. “Vinegar can be effective in reducing postprandial glucose and insulin levels, indicating it could be considered as an adjunctive tool for improving glycemic control,” concludes this study.
- Eat your veggies first – By eating veggies before a meal, the fiber will reduce glucose absorption.
Try combining these TCM and Western strategies to manage your blood sugar levels.
Do you have any blood sugar management hacks? Have you used TCM to support your healthy blood glucose levels? Leave a comment.