Warm Temperature Foods:

  • Eat warmer and protect your digestive fire. In winter, it is best to cook foods longer, at lower temperatures, using less water. These factors increase the meal's warming qualities. Making your food “warmer” and easier to digest will preserve your “digestive fire” and help you absorb more nutrients. Food is easier to digest when it is at least slightly cooked, or broken down. More soft and "pre-digested." When eating in general, eat moderate amounts (until 70% full), in simple combinations (unless all cooked in the same pot like a stew or soup). Eat foods warm in temperature, and chew your food well. If you have cold signs, eat warming foods such as oats, parsnips, mustard greens, winter squash, butter, quinoa, walnuts, onion, chicken, trout and salmon. Warming spices include dried ginger, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek seeds, fennel.

  • When eating for fertility, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, you will want to nourish your body

with foods that are warming or Yang. Kidney Yang deficiency happens when there is lack of exercise, poor diet

(high in fat, sodium, sugar, dairy and low in fiber), and excessive consumption of cold food and drinks.

With regards to women and infertility imbalances, there is considered to be kidney Yang deficiency.

Fertility imbalances are commonly a sign of kidney QI deficiency (inadequate kidney function).

Strong Blood and spleen QI are vital for fertility as well.

  • Yang is important for fertility, because it is considered a time when the energy is rising, blossoming and fertile.

For kidney Yang deficiency diets, and Spleen Yang deficiency diets, it is best to consume fresh foods that are cooked.

Food that is lightly prepared, helps to ensure that nutrients are preserved, and are more readily digested and absorbed.

Kidney Yang is responsible for the power to fuel every function in the body.
Yang makes things move. Yang warms the limbs.
Yang warms the lower back, knees, and feet.

  • Eating smaller meals, more frequently, helps balance blood sugar.

Especially useful for those who have hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Enjoy meals by sitting down, to relax, while you eat.

Chew your food very well, and eat slowly. Best to not rush. Savoring flavors is recommended. Focus on the flavors of every bite. Eating slowly, and mindfully, will also strengthen the spleen and QI. We want to properly, and thoroughly, receive the nutrients from the foods that we eat. Gut integrity, and small intestine health, play vital roles in our assimilation of nutrient absorption from food.

  • For those who are recovering from serious chronic illness, congees (rice soup) are a way to rebuild the health with a cereal of rice or grain combined with appropriate foods and tonic herbs. This type of therapeutic porridge is easy on the digestive system and is well assimilated for those who are weakened from chronic disease or healing from injuries or surgeries. It is very healthy to eat congee regularly for breakfast to strengthen your digestion and immunity. Cook as you would rice or grain. Buy organically grown rice and grains. Avoid aluminum and lead crock pots.


According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods are considered one of the following:

cold, cooling, neutral, warming or hot. All of these foods fall under either Yin, Yang, or QI.

QI, also called chi, is the underlying energy in all life, our life force. Yin is the passive, negative, slow-moving, cool, relaxed representation. Yang is active, fiery, hot, expanding, and fast-moving representation. The moon is Yin, and the sun is Yang.

Please do not come to the clinic if you have Covid, or it has been less then 14 days since symptoms started, or positive Covid test.

Please do not come in if you are sick with cold, flu, cough, fever.

Please note that we may be treating immuno-compromised, elderly, and pregnant patients, who are more susceptible to becoming severely ill from Covid.

Appreciate your kokua, help, and understanding.

Christine Walinch L.Ac.

Foods To Build Kidney Yin:

 The kidneys are associated with the water element. Drink ample water at room temperature throughout the day.

Coconut water, and omega 3, 9 rich foods build Yin and moisturize internally. Yin is the cooling, moisturizing component in the body that lubricates our eyes, nose, skin, hair, mucous membranes, digestive tract, and joints.

Eat kidney shaped foods: black beans, kidney beans, most beans. Beans are kidney shaped, as well as seeds with potential for new life, these foods have long been considered especially nourishing to the kidneys.

Eat blue and black foods: Blueberries, blackberries, mulberry, black beans, black rice, black chia seeds, black sesame seeds. The colors blue and black correspond to the water element of the kidneys. It is possible to strengthen the water element by eating blue and black foods. Cranberries are specific to good kidney and urinary function.

Eat seafood: Fish, shrimp, and seaweeds all support the water element. Do not eat shark, marlin or swordfish, as their mercury levels are dangerous. Eat tuna a few times a month and avoid eating seafood during pregnancy because of toxic heavy metals. I look to buy and use organic seaweed. I like Maine Coast brand. Hijiki, dulse, nori, kombu. So many good ones. Iodine and kelp is contraindicated in those who have high thyroid (hyperthyroidism), and auto immune conditions like Hashimotos & Graves. If someone has low thyroid hormone, hypothyrodism, kelp and iodine are usually encouraged.

In Chinese medicine, we look to the kidney system for thyroid, adrenal, and endocrine imbalances.

Eat naturally, salty flavored foods: Miso, sea salt, tamari, salted, raw sauerkraut or kimchee (Korean cultured vegetables without MSG). Each of the five elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine has a flavor attributed to it, and the water flavor which governs the kidneys is salty. To support the water element, consume a healthy amount of salt, as too much salt will have the opposite effect.

Moderate intake of dried foods are one traditional way to access foods not freshly available throughout the cold storage months. They are more concentrated and help build kidney yin and jing (essence). Normally, they should be reconstituted or cooked in water.

Seeds: Flax, pumpkin, sunflower. Black sesame seeds relate to fertility and growth, which is governed by kidney energy.

Nuts: Walnuts, chestnuts (nuts are seeds). These nuts are particularly recommended for kidney energy.

Eat animal products sparingly. Excess cheese may be too dampening for the spleen. Too much meat, particularly without the balance of vegetables, will stagnate the liver, and colon, and create heat.

Look to the individual to decide on the ideal amount of animal products.

Eat bone-marrow broths and soups: This will nourish marrow governed by the kidneys. Especially beneficial for people wanting to prevent, or heal osteoporosis. Bone broths help expedite healing after surgeries, and injuries.

Grains: Barley, millet. These are both mildly cooling, and nourishing to Yin.

Eat vegetables daily: Asparagus, deep green leafy vegetables. Asparagus has diuretic properties, and is especially helpful with opening the flow for those with dark, scanty urine. Deep green, leafy, vegetables build the blood. Blood is a Yin fluid. Moist vegetables, such as cucumbers, okra, avocado, and celery are helpful for Yin.

Eat fruits and melons: These are emphasized since they are moistening, and mildly cooling.

Too much fruit, can be cooling, resulting in diarrhea. 2 - 4 pieces of fruit a day is a good "rule of thumb."

Eat melon alone. Do not combine melon with other foods at the same time, for optimum digestion and enzyme activity. 

Take kidney and liver strengthening tonics: Spirulina, kelp, wheatgrass, blue green algae, chlorophyll. These mineral rich foods build the blood, which enhances Yin. They are also high in nucleic acids (RDA/DNA) which have been shown to reduce signs of aging. Blue green algae supports the manufacturing of our own stem cells. Green super foods help to support lung, liver, kidney, lymph function and detox heavy metals. Superfoods greens tend to be very cooling. Cold in nature.

health & nutrition

​Lower Back Health and the Kidney Relationship in Traditional Chinese Medicine​

 Treat old and new back injuries with acupuncture. If you have an old, or a new back injury, be sure to get this treated and resolved as soon as possible.

External Causes of Low Back Pain:

Long term back injuries can cause poor circulation, and stagnation, which affects kidney function and weakens the kidneys. "Dampness leading downward from the spleen" can damage both the liver, kidneys, and the spleen. The spleen dominates the muscles, and digestion in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The spleen also controls the ability to hold things in and up in the body. Kidneys dominate the spine, bones, lower back, knees, and the neurological system in Chinese medicine.

The Liver dominates the tendon, ligament, and joints. The sinews. The smooth flow of Blood and QI in the body, is controlled by the liver. Similar to blood circulation. Get to bed by 11 pm ideally, so your liver can properly nourish your body, and joints with an abundance of liver Yin. Liver Yin is the lubricating component affecting joint "suppleness" and flexibility. Less likely to have tendon tears, and ruptures, when our joints are properly lubricated and "oiled." Omega 3, good 6, and 9, fatty acids lubricate our joints, and prevent dryness. Drink enough water, keep moving, prioritize quality sleep, and try to avoid drying out your joints. Coffee, alcohol, sugar, fried foods, processed foods, and spicy foods create internal heat, and burn up Yin, dry us out.

Strengthen your lower back muscles, tendon, ligament, connective tissue, and the spine, through sound nutrition. And lifestyle choices. Avoid drinking ice water. Cold slows down circulation, weakens the lower back, and kidney Yang. Cold is very "taxing" to the spleen for muscular health as well. Avoid lifting heavy items to protect your spleen.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, our QI and Blood flow can be affected by invasion of energies from the external environment. These energies are wind, cold, dampness, heat, dryness, and summer-heat. One of the five functions of QI, is to protect the body from invasion of these environmental energies. If the defensive QI (WEI QI), is weak, environmental energy can invade the body.
This invasion enters the channels, and blocks the flow of QI and Blood in those channels. According to Chinese medical texts, invasion by external energies, can only occur, when the defensive QI is deficient. Environmental, pathogenic influences usually do not invade the body singly, but rather in pairs. IE: Cold/Damp, Wind/Heat etc. For instance, wind often combines with heat, cold, and/or dampness. When these energies invade the upper body, we typically come down with a cold, flu, neck pain, headache. When pernicious, outside, environmental influences attack our WEI QI, they can invade the lower back, as well.

Keep the feet warm, especially through winter, to preserve kidney QI and Yang.
The body’s QI is conserved by keeping warm. Excessive sweating, from hot showers, or baths, can create a loss of Yang QI.  Yang Qi can be depleted when our pores are open, and we are exposed to cold/wind, Bell's Palsy conditions (facial nerve, viral infection), are said to be brought on by exposure to cold and wind on the face. Prevention is key. Avoid A/C vents and fans directly on your face, head, neck. Avoid sleeping under moving ceiling fans, and avoid drafts. Feng Shui believes that it is unhealthy to sleep under a moving ceiling fan. The blades, moving, above us, are undesirable, energetically. Hawaii is known for having ceiling fans in almost every room of the house. Our temperate, tropical, year-round climate, and accomodating trade winds, allow us to go without A/C much of the time. Hence, why we have ceiling fans in every room of the house. Have fans away from your body, while sleeping. On airplane flights, avoid air vents on your head, face, and neck. Long term exposure to wind, and cold is not ideal. Headaches, migraines, pain, and sinus infections, are made worse with wind to the face.

Hot water, foot baths are recommended. Add freshly brewed, ginger root tea and turmeric root tea to the foot bath. Epsom salts are also a nice addition for sore, achy joints and feet complaints. Keep your feet off of cold floors, and don’t wear wet shoes, or flip-flops.

Avoid Excessive Lifestyle Habits

When the kidneys are depleted due to being overworked, it can cause fatigue. However, very few people associate fatigue with depleted kidney energy, and usually force their way through it. Regular, and excessive, coffee and alcohol consumption, can deplete the adrenal glands and kidneys. Sugar and stimulants, also heat the liver, and cause over-acidity in the body. If you drink coffee, organic coffee is very important to choose. Coffee is one of the highest sprayed (pesticides and insecticides) crops.

The liver and kidneys have to process the oils in the coffee bean.

QI Gong, QI Kung and Tai Chi practices focus on breathing, and exercises that improve circulation. This helps, QI, blood and lymph flow, and keeps the kidneys exercised and balanced. Qi Gong is known for improving flexibility, mood, inflammation, and anxiety. Plus, it’s particularly good for older people or anyone with reduced mobility because it can be practiced in an incredibly gentle, yet effective way.
Preserve your Kidney Yin,Yang, QI, and Jing.

Eat dark, naturally salty foods, and soup to nourish the kidneys. Avoid toxins in food and water, as well as, intoxicants and heavy metals. Keep your lower back, legs, and feet warm.

Keep getting ACUPUNCTURE...

Traditional Chinese Medicine Food Tips:

Have a taste of each of the 5 flavors daily. Eat slightly more salty, and bitter flavors in the winter. The 5 flavors are: sweet, salty, sour, pungent (a.k.a. acrid/ spicy), and bitter. The “sweet” flavor means the “full sweet” tastes of grains, vegetables, etc. (not empty sweets of sugars, desserts, processed sweets).

In the winter, a slight increase in the salty and bitter flavors can benefit the kidneys, adrenals, and the heart. Some foods with bitter tastes include: kale, turnip, celery, asparagus, burdock root, carrot top, lettuce, watercress, parsley, endive, rye, oats, quinoa, chicory root, dandelion and dandelion greens. Salty foods include seaweeds, salt, millet, barley, miso, etc. Himalayan Pink Crystal salt is good to consume moderately because of the trace mineral content. Trace minerals are great for the glands, bones, blood, nerves, muscles, connective tissue, skin. Every system in the body requires trace minerals (micrograms). "Macrominerals" essential to the body, are measured in milligrams.

Why Are Heavy Metals Undesirable For Kidney Health?

  • In Chinese medicine, the brain is connected to the kidney-adrenal system. Heavy metals tend to accumulate in, and affect the kidneys, liver, brain, neurological system. Other organs are adversely affected by heavy metals, such as the heart.

Heavy metal poisoning can wreak havoc on your body. I encourage heavy metal blood tests done every couple of years through primary care Dr. I do not recommend cooking with aluminum foil or pans. I do not recommend drinking out of aluminum cans.

Aluminum, mercury, and other heavy metals like lead, nickel, and tin, are "neuro" toxins.

Cold Foods and Cold Drinks Can Cause Health Problems:

  • Over-eating raw fruits and vegetables, chilled, iced, and frozen foods and drinks, and drinking too many cold juices, are all contemporary Western causes for blood vacuity. This can cause Blood stasis in the uterus due to cold stagnation) and be harmful to healthy menstruation if they are eaten just before, or at the onset of menstruation (when they are often craved). According to Chinese medicine, the spleen is the organ in charge of digestion. It is the spleen QI which transforms and transports the food and drink ingested.

  • Hot water and warm water, because of its temperature, aids blood flow. As your blood circulation increases, it helps detoxify your body and reduce painful contractions of muscles. Cold water slows down organ function, and causes muscles to contract. Drinking warm water helps preserve and protect the internal organs, and promotes smooth flow of blood circulation. Drinking plenty of warm wate is the number one easiest and healthiest solution for children with stomach aches or constipation. Organs cannot immediately metabolize fluids that are below core body temperature. The body is forced to work harder and wastes energy in order to make cold drinks warm enough for the body to use. This energy could have been better utilized healing illness, increasing immunity, and improving digestion. In hot, tropical climates, the body’s QI flows more superficially than in those living in colder, damper climates, so it is often enough to drink body core temperature or warm water, as opposed to hot water.

  • The Chinese have long understood the thermal nature of foods. Food as medicine is used to heal imbalances. To cool down, it is better to consume foods that have a cooling nature like watermelon or mint tea versus frozen, chilled, or iced drinks. Cold beverages are neither healthy, nor cooling;  in fact, they cause the stomach to create more heat in order to break the foods down, which ultimately damages the entire digestive system. Even in Western nutritional theory, cold beverages are not as cooling as room-temperature ones, because cold causes vessels to contract, so that they don’t absorb the liquid.

  • Ideally, it isn’t desirable to mix hot food with cold water, as this creates an imbalance of temperature. The suggested benefits of consuming hot water do not solely originate from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Many people boil their water because they consider it a way to kill off microbes and bacteria. Hot water increases blood circulation and helps decrease complications associated with cramps and indigestion.

  • When we eat or drink, our stomach’s produce enzymes needed for digestion that can only survive in a limited temperature range in the body. When cold food or drink is ingested, our bodies have to counteract the temperature difference in order to preserve a suitable environment for these enzymes in the stomach for our digestion to function well. Everyone’s constitution is different (whether from genetics or an acquired condition), so there will be different reactions to ingesting cold substances. “Cold constitution” people have a lower body temperature and are unable to raise their stomach temperature sufficiently to counteract the cold food and drinks. For our digestion to function properly, it needs sufficient energy and heat to contract and push food through the digestive tract. Cold food and drinks will lower the stomach’s temperature which in turn slows down the digestion process and cause indigestion. If cold substances are too frequently ingested, the person will often have a poor appetite and experience weight loss. Cold affects the digestive tract by retaining food for longer periods of time to allow bacteria additional time to complete the digestion process. This can generate more gas that can cause bloating in the stomach or abdomen. Your bowels move better with warm water and lemon in the morning.

  • Prevent weakened kidney and spleen function by not drinking cold beverages. Room temperature or heated is better, with sipping preferred. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, excess cold fluids deplete our digestive heat. This slows digestion creating sluggish bowel movements characterized by bloating and constipation. For those with excess moisture in their system, weight loss is even more challenging. The stomach-spleen supplies the kidney with the warmth to function optimally. Cold fluids weaken our kidneys and their ability to provide warmth. Cold temperature foods and drinks are also taxing on the lungs, and spleen.

  • It is often heard “kidneys don’t like cold. ”The kidneys, in Chinese medicine, go way beyond that of Western physiology functioning. Cold weakens the bladder causing frequent urination. Kidney imbalances affect all bone problems especially, knees, low back and teeth. Arthritis and joint pain are worsened in cold weather. Kidneys also control hearing, the entire endocrine system (including adrenal glands), and even sexual function. On emotional levels, those with kidney imbalances may experience excessive fears, insecurity, and lack of will power. Weak kidney conditions contribute to a tendency to be inactive and unproductive. Enjoy drinks at room temperature to do your body good.

  • Mindful eating (paying attention to tastes, textures, smells, etc. while eating) is the single best “dietary’”change we can make. Take time to enjoy your meal. Chew your food slowly and chew your food well. It is ideal to not eat standing up, driving, or stressed. Sit down to eat and have peaceful meals. Don't rush while eating, and perhaps put your fork or spoon down in between bites to practice chewing your food more thoroughly. These practices strengthen the spleen and stomach from a Chinese medicine perspective. Eating breakfast daily with cooked food to stimulate your digestive fire is very important. This helps build strong qi & blood. Raw foods like salads, raw produce, and chilled smoothies are more easily digested during the most yang time of the day which is 12 p.m. noon. It is important to eat cooked vegetables at breakfast and dinner. Cooked vegetables build digestive strength and fire from their warm nature. Eat cooked vegetables at breakfast to strengthen digestion and eat cooked vegetables at dinner time to help keep kidney yang strong.

The kidney time is 5-7 p.m. on the Traditional Chinese Medicine meridian clock.

  • Chinese medicine places great importance on diet, especially on cooked as opposed to raw food. Cooking makes the nutrients in foods more easily assimilated, resulting in a greater net gain. Our diet should consist of warm foods. Drinking too much liquid and especially cold liquids with meals can cause stagnant qi. There are also certain foods which should be eaten in great moderation. Sugar weakens the spleen and therefore the healthy creation of qi and blood. Honey, molasses and maple syrup create dampness and hinder spleen function. People with liver depression and qi stagnation tend to crave the sweet flavor. Other foods that can create dampness are nuts, oils, and fats, chocolate, beef and pork, dairy products, fruits, eggs, and citrus fruits, pineapples, pears. Alcohol is also dampening.

The Relationships Between Meridians, Elements, and 

Yin/Yang Organ Pairs Are As Follows:

Lung, Large Intestine (Metal Element)
Stomach, Spleen (Earth Element)
Heart, Small Intestine, Pericardium, Triple Warmer (Fire Element)
Kidney, Urinary Bladder (Water Element)
Liver, Gall Bladder (Wood Element)

Kidney Health in Traditional Chinese Medicine:

The kidneys are considered the source of all the vital energy or “Qi” within the body. During the winter months, it is especially important to reflect on health, replenishing energy, and conserving strength.

Keep your Ming Men "Life Gate" fire strong in the body.

This important concept in TCM, the Gate of Life, is where the original life essence (jing essence) of the individual is based.
 The Gate of Vitality was originally thought to be a function of the Kidneys. Some traditional Chinese medical texts tout that Ming Men resides in the right kidney. It is thought to lie between the two kidneys, in front of your lumbar vertebrae. A special point in the middle of the lumbar region of your back "Centre of Vitality."

Located between your L2 and L3 vertebrae, the Mingmen is not only important for providing Qi to maintain and correct organ function, but it’s also the spot in which your kidneys blend the Yin and Yang (Water & Fire) energy. This is the essence that originates from the kidneys, which is transformed into the most pure kind of QI. The kidneys are responsible for filtering and cleansing the blood. This fresh and clean blood will then be redistributed into the veins. This high quality QI, which is accompanied by the blood, is important to balance your body's energy properties. It supplies our entire body with energy for its vital functions. The Mingmen sits right behind your lower Dan Tian. The 2 are closely related. Although the Mingmen and the Dan Tian have different purposes, collectively, they form what we know as the Sea of QI, our lower energy center in the body.

The "Dan Tian" (Cinnabar Field), resides one hand-breadth below our navel. This area is a QI center. Where we store our energy, and make strong Blood. Qikung, nutrition, deep breathing, proper rest, and movement all help to build strong QI and Blood. Make it well. Store it in the Dan Tian. We are warm-blooded beings, and from this Gate of Vitality, comes our ability to be warm. When we die, the Gate of Vitality fire goes out, our bodies grow cold, and we cease to live.

Martial artists also call this point the “Gate of Power” because it is an important marker for movement and essential for internal power, development, and execution.

The cold and darkness of winter urges us to slow down (even in Hawaii). It is the perfect time to recharge our batteries, and generate vital energy, QI. In winter, just as the energy of the tree goes into the roots, so too, does the energy of our bodies.

The kidneys are the roots of the body. Ming Men is our heating furnace. Stoke for willpower, drive, strength, and energy.

​Tao is an East Asian concept that relates to the true nature of the world. It is the universal force that generates and propels everything in it. Yin, Yang, Blood, and QI. All things can be described according to their Yin, and Yang nature.

Different aspects of your body and health are in relative Yin, or Yang states.

Depending on the time of the day, or during different times in your life. 

Your internal, equilibrium, and homeostasis are maintained by an appropriate balance of Yin, and Yang in the human body.

The meridians operate in Yin organ and Yang organ pairs, each of which are associated with a particular element.

QI, Blood, Yin, Yang, and the interaction between the 5 elements in our bodies, determine our internal health, and constitution.

Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner's determine which meridians are in need of treatment, by feeling the pulses and "checking" the status of your Blood, Qi, Yin, Yang, Jing, Shen.


Eat to minimize “Dampness.” Dampness is fluid where it's not supposed to be (phlegm, mucus, edema, cysts, tumors, yeasts). Dampness leads to feeling heavy, sluggish, foggy (physically and mentally); it impairs your digestive 'fire' and overall warmth and energy. It contributes to allergies, low immunity, and chronic illnesses. Damp-causing foods include: dairy (especially cow), almost all sugars (including most fruit), wheat (sprouting helps), overly-salty food, meats and eggs, most fats and oils, yeasted breads, alcohol. Food that is hard to digest (raw, cold, inadequately chewed, etc.). Refined, processed, stale or rancid food (including most commercially shelled nuts and seeds, especially peanuts) create phlegm, and "damp-heat."

Eating excessive amounts, overly complex meals, and late at night, also contribute to dampness.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are not ‘good’ foods or ‘bad’ foods; there are appropriate foods for each individual and inappropriate food for a specific individual. Like there are appropriate herbs for each individual, depending on what their health needs are. Like herbs, foods have different energetic qualities: warming or cooling.

No one dietary guideline is going to be correct for all individuals. Raw foods tend to be cold and can damage the spleens energetic organ system. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, nutrition and food therapy, is simply part of the larger system of medicine which includes acupuncture and herbal medicine.

As Hippocrates says, “let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.”​

 North Kauai Acupuncture

  Christine Walinch  

  Lic. Acupuncturist, M.S.O.M.