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Back Pain Part 2 of 3

The story gets deeper. Chinese Medicine teaches that the Kidney Qi is compared to water, and our ability to accomplish our goals is compared with wood. (Why wood? Because trees are always striving to grow upwards, just like we strive towards our goals and accomplishments.)

Let’s say I want to carry a gallon of water from the grocery to my car. That accomplishment falls into the category of Wood, completing a goal.  If I have to carry that gallon for a whole mile, I’ll get tired, and my body with secrete adrenaline (Kidney Qi) to support the wood in accomplishing that goal. That’s what is means that Water nourishes Wood in the Chinese 5-element cycle.


But if a patient has overused their kidney qi, there is not enough water to nourish the wood and a dry branch can’t bend, it breaks. That means that when their life gets difficult, they don’t have the backup energy to adapt to the challenges, and they just get stressed and angry. Well guess what: When we’re angry, the digestive system doesn’t function well. And then we don’t absorb nutrients. And then we rely on our already depleted Kidney Qi to function. It’s a vicious cycle.


This is the story I see over and over again in my back pain patients. They are overachievers who dig deep into their energy reserves to accomplish, or they went through emotional traumas that kept them in fight/flight mode. In either case, the energy they absorb from food is insufficient for their life burden, and they rely on adrenaline. After a few years, they become people who want to lie down all the time, but get bursts of adrenal energy to accomplish when there is a deadline. That’s when back pain starts. As their adrenaline is depleted, they become short tempered. The more stressed they are, the worse their digestion, because anger shuts off digestion. The worse their digestion, the more they rely on their adrenals leading to more back pain as explained earlier. This isn’t all back pain patients, but in my experience, it’s the majority.


In our clinic, we approach these patients with 3 strategies.


1.     Restore healthy digestion and diet so the patient can rely on acquired qi, not their kidney qi. (Nutrition)

2.     Calm their stress and anger to prevent emotions impeding digestion

3.     Rebuild the Kidney Qi (Adrenals)

The goal is to retrain their body to function on the energy from food, not adrenaline. We do this with a combination of lifestyle and dietary coaching, acupuncture, and herbal medicine. Once the body is restored to normal function, the back pain goes away forever.


Sorry if this was a more technical post… Trying to translate the concepts of Chinese Medicine into English to explain our process. I hope it’s clear

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