This Valentine’s day, whether you celebrate romantic love with a partner, enjoy the love of family and friends, or simply go on with life, marking another day on the calendar, it can be a chance to at least take a moment and honor one of the most important relationships in our lives. In Chinese Medicine philosophy, the relationship at the core of our existence that helps to give our lives meaning, joy, and power is the sacred harmony between our heart and our kidneys.
Valentine’s day lands right smack in the dead of winter, while we are deep in kidney time. Winter's focus is on the kidneys which represent the water element, so it is a great opportunity to remember it’s balancing organ, the heart, which corresponds with fire. The relationship between water and fire in the body influences much more than just aspects of our physical health. It actually determines how we engage our purpose in life, how we connect what we love with what we do.
In terms of physical health, this balance between the heart and the kidney function in the body is required to regulate heart rhythm, sleep cycles, water metabolism, temperature, and mental and physical stability. The heart, located in the upper (yang) part of the body, must descend it’s yang qi (fire) to warm the kidney yin and prevent cold stagnation. The kidneys, located in the lower (yin) part of the body, must ascend their yin qi (water) to prevent the heart fire from becoming overactive. If there is a miscommunication that leads to disharmony in this relationship we can see issues of hyperactive heart fire such as palpitations, anxiety, insomnia, even mania. If an overactive heart fire dries up the kidney yin, we can have issues like dizziness, tinnitus, weak back and knees. Not enough fire to warm the kidneys can lead to cold limbs, fatigue and edema. The heart and kidneys share a special relationship in Western medicine as well, as they rely on each other for proper circulation, water and waste metabolism, and blood pressure. Disorders of one organ can lead to issues in the other, which is why doctors often say ‘what’s good for your heart is good for your kidneys’ and vice-versa.
A more profound analysis of this relationship has to do with the spiritual energy held in these organs according to TCM. Our heart is the home of our Shen, our heart-mind, the aspect of spirit associated with our consciousness, our desires, insight and passion. Kidneys house the Zhi, the aspect of our spirit associated with our willpower. This is what gives us our ‘umph’ to face challenges and keep going, our self-discipline, our drive. Together these motivations, our desire coupled with our drive, empower us to carry out our soul’s life plan.
This Valentine’s day, wake up and stretch, rub your lower back to charge up your kidneys and activate your willpower. Breathe deep, adjust your posture and stick out your chest to let your heart lead the way. Feel the connection between these 2 organ systems in the body, letting your will empower your passions. This internal harmony can fill your life with love on Valentine’s day and everyday.
Roses and chocolates are great on Valentine’s Day, but why not also get some acupuncture to help support your heart-kidney connection? You’ll leave feeling balanced at your core and in love with life!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.