Beating the Cold, By Warming the Kidneys with Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan


(Kidney Qi Pill from the Golden Cabinet)

Winter, according to five phase theory, is the element of water and refers to the energetic organ of the Kidney. This is the season to nourish and protect our kidneys from the element of coldness. As with every change of season, the body needs to adjust to climatic fluctuations. This adjustment may cause stress on the body that can lower our immunity and result in sickness or fatigue. In Chinese medicine there are five recognized seasons, and with each of those five seasons are its corresponding element, organ and pathogen. It is important to know these corresponding relationships in order to avoid sickness or injury to one of the internal organs. Below is a chart representing the five phases as relates to Chinese theory and its corresponding characteristics.

It is possible, regardless of the efforts to keep ourselves in good health, that the body is unable to defend itself against the stress of external and/or internal influences. Regardless of whether the Kidneys suffer from internal or external factors the coldness of winter can be dangerous and extremely damaging. The Kidneys are the basis of the body's yang and house the "gate of vitality" which is considered to be the foundation of the body's source energy. The primary indication that the Kidneys are in a weakened state is systemic exhaustion, usually accompanied by aversion to cold, or cold extremities, called Kidney Yang Deficiency. Other common symptoms include; withdrawal, soreness and weakness of the lower back and lower extremities, a pale tongue, and a submerged, frail pulse. Some accompanying signs of Kidney Yang Deficiency are; impotence, spermatorrhea, watery leucorrhea, enuresis, frequent and copious urination, wheezing, daybreak diarrhea, and wasting and thirsting disorder.

When there is Kidney Yang Deficiency there is usually also insufficient fire at the gate of vitality or Dan Tian. The function of the Kidneys is to store the essence; it is the foundation of the prenatal essence as well. The essence transforms into Qi, which then transforms into Kidney Qi and finally Kidney Yang. The Kidney Yang is the motivating source energy for the entire body. The Kidney governs the bones and it resides in the back. That is why any deficiency of the Kidneys results in low back pain.

The Kidney Yang Qi is responsible for the transformation and movement of water in the body, directing the pure fluids up and the turbid fluids down. When the Kidney Yang is deficient, it is unable to warm the body properly. This causes a deficiency in the Lower Burner, and therefore coldness in the lower half of the body that can manifest as abdominal tension. This deficiency may cause problems such as urinary difficulties, panting, irritability, edema, and continence.

Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan or Kidney Qi Pill from the Golden Cabinet is a primary formula for Kidney Yang Deficiency. It warms and tonifies Kidney Yang.

Specific indications for this formula include: Weakness and cold extremities, excessive and clear urination, difficult urination with edema, low libido, impotence, soreness or weakness of the lower back and cold sensation in the lower half of the body.

Tongue: Pale and swollen with a white and moist coat.

Pulse: Deep and weak.

This formula tonifies Kidney Yin and Yang together. It is also effective at treating male infertility, leg Qi disorder due to Kidney Yang deficiency, and wasting and thirsting disorder (diabetes mellitus) due to Kidney Yang deficiency.

Jin Gi Shen Qi Wan tonifies the Yin and the Yang without being cloying in nature. It is considered to be a harmonious and balanced formula with the ability to restore vitality to the body. It is important, when healing the bodies source of vitality, the kidneys, that both the Yin and Yang are treated and restored. When the Yin is tonified the Qi may be generated more easily. When the Yang is nourished it warms the Kidneys and therefore transformation of water is possible. Ultimately when the Kidney Yang Qi is restored the kidney function returns to normal and the body is harmonized.

Prepare for the changing seasons in advance. It is much more effective to start boosting the body's defenses before the onset of the changing seasons rather than waiting until it in progress. It is always a good idea if you are a Chinese medical practitioner to make seasonal appointments for your patients. Especially those who tend to suffer from problems associated with the upcoming season.

Stay warm during the winter months.

Season Element Organ Pathogen
Autumn Metal Lung, Large Intestine Dryness
Winter Water Kidney, Bladder Cold
Spring Wood Liver, Gallbladder Wind
Summer Fire Heart, Small Intestine Heat
Indian Summer Earth Spleen, Stomach Dampness
Formula Analysis of Jin Gui Shen Qi Wan:
Legend for Chart:
A - Name of Herb
B - Dosage
C - Actions
D - Category
E - Taste/Nature
F - Channel(s)
A: Sheng Di Huang Fresh rehmannia
B: 24 grams
C: Nourishes yin, tonifies kidneys and blood
D: Chief
E: Sweet, bitter and cold
F: Heart, Kidney, Liver
A: Shan Zhu Yu Cornus cherry fruit
B: 12 grams
C: Tonify liver and kidneys
D: Deputy
E: Sour, slightly warm
F: Kidney, Liver
A: Shan Yao Wild yam
B: 12 grams
C: Strengthens spleen, stabilize kidneys, nourishes essence
D: Deputy
E: Sweet, neutral
F: Kidney, Lung, Spleen
A: Fu Zi Prepared aconite
B: 3 grams
C: Tonifies source fire, dispels cold, and eliminates dampness
D: Deputy
E: Acrid, hot, toxic
F: Heart, Kidney, Spleen
A: Gui Zhi Cinnamon twig
B: 3 grams
C: Benefits the joints, warms the channels, and unblocks the vessels.
Tonifies Kidney yang
D: Deputy
E: Acrid, sweet, warm
F: Heart, Lung, Bladder
A: Ze Xie Water plantain/yam root
B: 9 grams
C: Unblocks and regulates water pathway
D: Assistant
E: Sweet, bland, cold
F: Kidney, Bladder
A: Fu Ling White poria
B: 9 grams
C: Strengthens the spleen and drains dampness
D: Assistant
E: Sweet, bland, neutral
F: Heart, Spleen, Lung
A: Mu Dan Pi Moutan bark
B: 9 grams
C: Drains dampness, cools the blood, removes blood stasis
D: Assistant
E: Acrid, bitter, cool
F: Heart, Liver, Kidney
*There are many ways to modify this formula. Each modification depends
on the presentation of each patient. It is recommended to refer to a
trained herbalist before attempting to self-diagnose, treat, or ingest
this formula without proper training.


By Kelsey Fernandez, MSOM, L.Ac.

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jrokaip1's picture

Thanks for this information. Very helpful. We all want to feel warm during the winter. Need to grab some of these.