Case Studies: Kidney Ailments

Weak kidney systems often lead to hormone deficiencies.


| January/February 2001


A little knowledge is sometimes worse than no knowledge when it comes to our own good. Have you ever read about someone who had a terrible disease, and then you started thinking that you had the beginning symptoms of the ailment yourself? A simple cough could be the first sign of lung cancer, a gas pain an impending heart attack, and a big freckle, melanoma. Our minds are truly powerful in whatever way we choose to direct them, and if we don’t direct them, they may end up creating mischief.

Laura was a regular patient of mine, and she came to the clinic with an odd set of symptoms, including a feeling of pressure and pain in her upper right abdominal area around the liver, itching in the skin, fatigue, and memory problems. Laura looked weary as she slumped into a chair in the treatment room, and she reported unusual fatigue. Fatigue is a common symptom of many different causes, from insufficient sleep to stress and worry, or as a part of a disease process such as a bladder infection. Based on her symptoms, Laura felt she might have hepatitis.

A puzzling diagnosis

Laura’s set of symptoms intrigued me. As always, if the Western diagnosis wasn’t clear, I called upon my training in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Even if a patient has a clear Western diagnosis from a physician, TCM can often differentiate four or five syndromes.



Laura had a red tongue with no coating at all—a symptom of a well-established yin deficiency, common in people much older than her thirty-two years. Her pulses were very weak and rapid, and because her kidney pulses were the weakest, I started thinking about a deficiency in the kidney system, which in TCM relates roughly to the hormones. This syndrome could be treated with Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and a variety of other healthy habits, such as yoga.

At this point, I doubted whether Laura had hepatitis, based on her symptoms and the pulse and tongue diagnoses, which showed no liver weakness or liver heat. Just to be sure, I had Laura go to a lab for a liver panel and viral antibody test. Because I’d diagnosed kidney weakness, I also ordered tests involving the function of the adrenals, thyroid, and sexual hormones. People with weak kidney systems often have hormone deficiencies, leading to fatigue. Hormones involved with energy metabolism, such as adrenaline and thyroxine, are often involved.








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