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The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is… A Weak Kidney System

How TCM helps resolve fear

Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, famously said during his inauguration in 1933, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” At the time, Roosevelt was attempting to boost the morale of a populace made weary by the Great Depression. These days, with a shaky economic climate and a 24/7 news cycle, we have lots to fear. 

Fear is made worse if our Kidney organ system is imbalanced. Although it’s a hard concept for some to grasp, every organ of TCM is associated with a certain emotion. Being afraid for long periods of time can damage the Kidney organ system. That’s why it’s important to learn how to support your Kidneys. 

Fear in TCM

It’s one thing to be spooked when you’re watching a horror movie. You might have a nightmare but by the next day, if everything else in your life is not a horror show, you’ll probably be fine. However, excessive fear that produces psychological changes can damage Kidney Qi. 

Excessive fear that produces psychological changes can damage Kidney Qi.

This is bad news because the Kidney system of TCM is the organ responsible for sustaining life and maintaining strong teeth and bones (it produces bone marrow). In addition, the Kidneys govern hearing as well as other anti-aging aspects such as hair health. 

According to a 2020 study in the World Journal of Accupuncture and Moxibustion, research shows that long-term fear could adversely cause changes in the neuroendocrine-immune system. 

In fact, excessive fear is a disease pattern in TCM: “Fear injury Kidney.” Fear-induced Kidney injury can deplete Jing, which is the body’s stored essence. The Kidney stores Jing, some of which is an inherited fixed genetic amount from our parents. Other components of Jing can be revitalized through proper diet and rest. 

The Ling Shu, which is like the Bible of Acupuncture, says that “Constant fear without relief will damage essence, and damage of essence will cause weakness of bones and  exhaustion of Yang Qi.”

In turn, exhaustion of the Yang Qi causes what Qi there is to descend from the upper body to the lower body. It’s as if the Qi itself didn’t have the energy to hold itself up. This, in turn, can result in lower body discomfort. 

Fear in TCM Leads To Qi Deficiency

You don’t have to be a TCM expert to realize that experiencing frequent fear can zap you of vital energy. But a Qi deficiency is precisely what excess fear causes. When the body releases Qi because of fear, the Urinary Bladder lacks the energy to hold or release urine. 

Interestingly, according to the researchers writing in the World Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, studies have demonstrated how fear negatively impacts the immune system. 

Kidney deficiency, the researchers say, decreases erythrocyte immune function and complement CRA function. The former are red blood cells that contain hemoglobin, which gives blood its red color and transports oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the tissues. The latter is the complement system or complement cascade and describes the part of the innate immune system that helps antibodies clear microbes. 

To be clear, not all Kidney deficiency is due to excessive fear. But excessive fear will lead to Kidney deficiency in all likelihood. 

Overcoming Fear in TCM

Overcoming excessive fear may require a multi-pronged approach. Lifestyle changes (such as stress management techniques) as well as diet modification and professional guidance may be necessary. 

The good news is that there is a simple solution that may help. It’s a time-tested TCM formula that supports mental harmony: NeuroSoothe


Fear is not always a bad thing. Fear can protect us. For example, if we see a ferocious looking dog without a leash approaching, fear can spur us to run like hell for safety. But excess fear can prematurely age us. We only have a finite amount of inherited Jing. So we may as well spend it wisely. And why waste valuable life essence on fear. As FDR said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. 

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What Does TCM Say About Occasional Uneasiness?