According to the ancient healing tradition of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), vital life force energy (or “qi”) runs throughout the body via channels called meridians. These meridians form a network, like an energy highway. They run through thousands of acupuncture points along the way. A key part of TCM practices are to keep energy flowing freely throughout the meridians, maintaining balance in the body to prevent disease and promote good health.1
There are 12 major meridians in the body, each connected to a specific organ. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at one of these meridians: the kidney meridian.
We will discover where the kidney meridian is located in the body, how it relates to your health, and what you can do to keep it in balance.
Kidney meridian location
According to TCM theory, the kidney organ system includes the kidneys along with the adrenal glands, the testicles, and the ovaries.2 The meridian itself is a long highway that runs all the way from the toes to the tongue.
Like all of the meridians, the kidney meridian exists on both sides of the body, and it is made up of a symmetrical pair of channels that run through various acupuncture points.
The kidney meridian begins under the little toe, crosses the bottom of the foot, loops up inside the ankle bone, and then rises up the calf and the leg to the inner thigh. From there, it goes inward, running towards the spine and to the kidneys.
At the kidneys, the meridian branches into two. One branch moves from the kidneys to the bladder and surfaces near the pubic area, then runs up to the collarbone. The other branch runs inside the body from the kidneys up through the liver, lungs, and throat, ending at the tongue.
Research has shown that the acupuncture points along the kidney meridian actually correspond to physical structures in the body, such as nerve branches and blood vessels.4
Kidney meridian function
The kidney meridian is believed to be the body’s most important reservoir of energy, supplying essence to all of our organs. Because of this, the kidney meridian is often referred to as the “Minister of Power” or the “Root of Life.”5
The kidney meridian and the kidney system are involved in blood filtration, metabolism, excretion, growth and development of bones and bone marrow, reproductive function, immunity, and sexual vitality. It also connects with the brain and nervous system.2 5 6
The paired “sister” organ of the kidney is the bladder, suggesting that the kidney meridian works closely with the bladder.
In TCM, the kidney meridian is thought to supply characteristics like generosity, creativity, desire, and libido.5 It also is thought to house willpower—meaning that it can provide us with the drive to work hard and have the endurance to do so for long periods.2 6
In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidney meridian is closely connected to the urinary bladder meridian. And, not surprisingly, it’s also connected with the associated organs of these meridians: the kidneys and the urinary bladder.
Additionally, the kidney has an energetic connection to the third cervical vertebra, the 9th, 10th, and 11th thoracic vertebrae, and the third lumbar vertebra. This means that unbalanced energy in the kidney meridian may lead to problems with these vertebrae. Or, conversely, problems with these vertebrae may lead to issues with the kidneys or urinary bladder.
The same is true for the teeth that are energetically connected to the kidney meridian, which are the front 4 teeth on the bottom and top of the mouth.
The kidney meridian is most closely associated with the emotion of fear.7 This makes sense because some people who experience extreme fear may lose control of their bladder function. An imbalance of fear may lead to physical issues in the connected areas above. The opposite may also be true—a physical imbalance in the kidney meridian or its associated parts may cause a person to feel excessive fear, or perhaps have an unhealthy lack of a fear response.
Signs of kidney meridian imbalance
According to TCM practice, the body stays healthy when energy is flowing freely through the meridians and qi is balanced. When a meridian becomes blocked or there is an imbalance of any kind, that is when we can experience symptoms and illness.1
When the kidney meridian becomes imbalanced, a variety of physical and mental health concerns may occur. These can include:
- Panic attacks
- Bone and joint issues
- Dry mouth and tongue
- Sore throat
- Pain and weakness in lower back, knees, spine, hip
- Low libido, infertility, impotence
- Poor memory
- Hair loss
- Ringing in the ears
- Inability to think clearly
- Respiratory issues
- Irregular menstruation 3 5 6 8 9
The kidney meridian stores energy that gets used throughout the day. According to the Chinese medicine clock, peak hours for this meridian are from 5:00-7:00 p.m. If you feel fatigued or get back pain at this time of day or have feelings of fear, blame, or guilt show up, this may be a sign of a kidney meridian imbalance.10
If you have noticed signs of a kidney imbalance, it may be useful to visit a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner such as an acupuncturist or herbalist. They can diagnose and treat whatever may be going on for you.
Balancing the kidney meridian with diet and lifestyle
There are many things you can do in your day-to-day life to help keep your kidney meridian balanced. From the foods you eat to the types of activities you choose to do, a few simple changes can make a big difference.
Here are some examples:
- Make time to relax. The kidney meridian can easily become imbalanced when we push ourselves too hard and don’t give ourselves time to rest. For that reason, relaxation is considered one of the kidney’s best friends. Consider self-care activities and relaxation techniques to soothe your body and find calm.
- Do things in moderation. Another ally to the kidney meridian is moderation. The more we stay balanced with our energy output and don’t overdo anything, the better. So avoid the “go, go, go” and “work hard, play hard” mindsets. Give yourself permission to take breaks and conserve your energy as needed.
- Try acupressure. An acupuncture point called “yongquan,” or Kidney 1, is located on the bottom of each foot, in the exact center. Rubbing and massaging this acupuncture point can help to stimulate the kidney meridian and the body’s energy reserves.11 You can try using your hands, your other foot, or even a tennis ball to stimulate the area.
- Practice yoga. Certain yoga practices can be designed specifically to support various organ systems and TCM meridians. Try out yoga sequences uniquely designed for the kidney meridian, such as this one.
- Drink more water. The kidneys belong to the Water element, according to TCM. Drinking plenty of water is a great practice to support kidney meridian balance.
- Try fasting. Fasting is another activity that can help to revitalize this meridian.
- Give these little exercises a try. Exercises like stomping your feet slowly with flat feet for 5 minutes a day or rubbing your ears for several minutes a day is thought to help stimulate kidney energy.8
- Eat foods that support the kidney meridian. In TCM, the kidney belongs to the Water element. Foods that support the Water element will also support the kidney meridian. In general, salty foods foods from the sea, roots of plants, and foods that are purple, black, or blue are all good choices. Some specific foods to choose that can be helpful include seaweed, fish, seafood, beans, black rice, beets, asparagus, watermelon, miso, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, and more.12
- Avoid caffeine and sugar. These can deplete energy stores from the kidney.5
Herbs to support the kidney meridian
Herbs and plants can also help to support kidney meridian balance. For example, parsley, dandelion, ginseng, corn silk, saw palmetto berries, juniper berries, and Schisandra berries are all on the list.5
There are also many other traditional Chinese herbs that can support the kidneys and the kidney meridian.3 It is advised to work with a Chinese herbal medicine practitioner to receive guidance on which kinds and how much to take. Always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any new supplements.
Kidney meridian stressor Virtual Item
Kidney Meridian is a main stressor Virtual Item that is automatically scanned in the Balance Biosurvey as well as many other ZYTO biosurveys. This digital representation of the Kidney Meridian is scanned with the other TCM meridians as well.
A stressor scan will reveal whether this and the other stressor Virtual Items scanned are in range or out of range. An out-of-range response may be considered an unbalanced response and something that needs support to bring the item back into range.
In addition to the Kidney Meridian, the Select and Elite allow you to dive deeper by scanning the individual acupuncture points within the meridian. Plus, there are Virtual Items representing the EAV points for the kidney meridian, as well as the horary clock time when the kidney meridian is most active (5:00 – 7:00 p.m.).
Kidney meridian balancer Virtual Item
A balancer Virtual Item is a representation of an actual item that is used to balance the body. After a typical stressor scan, the selected balancers are then scanned to determine which ones bring the out-of-range items back into range.
If the Kidney Meridian is out of range, you can see which specific balancer brought it back into range in the Biomarker Progress Report, which is included in the Advanced Report. If it took several items to bring the Kidney Meridian back into range, it can be considered a more stubborn stressor that you’ll want to monitor and pay more attention to.
Emotions can easily throw TCM meridians out of balance, which is why its important to focus on the emotional component of health as well. A powerful way to do this is with the ZYTO EVOX, which helps you reframe the perceptions that may be causing emotional blockages. Removing emotional blockages can lead to improvements in physical health and improved overall well-being.
Get support with the help of a TCM practitioner
If you are interested in exploring this further and learning about kidney meridian balance in your own body, work with a qualified traditional Chinese medicine practitioner. You might choose to work with an herbalist or an acupuncturist, for example. Organizations like the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and the Institute for Traditional Medicine have practitioner search tools that can help you locate someone in your area.
1. “Traditional Chinese Medicine.” Regents of the University of Michigan Michigan. Uofmhealth.org.
2. “Kidney: Water-energy yin organ.” Lieske.com
3. “Kidney Meridian.” Science Direct. Sciencedirect.com.
4. Lee, M., R. Longenecker, S. Lo, & P. Chiang. “Distinct Neuroanatomical Structures of Acupoints Kidney 1 to Kidney 8: A Cadaveric Study.” Medical Acupuncture 31, no. 1 (2019): 19–28.
5. “The Kidney Meridian – Harmonizing Fluids and the Autonomic Nervous System.” Five Seasons Medicine. Fiveseasonsmedicine.com
6. “The Kidney Meridian – Root of Life.” Natural Health Zone. Natural-health-zone.com.
7. “The Emotions and Traditional Chinese Medicine.” Encircle Acupuncture. Encircleacupuncture.com
8. “Kidney/Bladder Health.” Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation. Tcmworld.com
9. Evans, Julie. “What Is Qi Deficiency, and How Is It Treated?” Healthline Media. Healthline.com.
10. Morris, Seth. “What the Chinese Medicine Clock Can Tell You about Your Health.” ZYTO. Zyto.com.
11. Reninger, Elizabeth “Acupressure Treasures: Yong Quan – Gushing/Bubbling Spring.” Dotdash Learnreligions.com.
12. “Foods that Benefit Each Body System.” Balanced Concepts. Balancedconcepts.net.