Talking about sensitive or uncomfortable topics like poop and sex are always going to be one of my favorite things to do. I think it’s hugely empowering to put into words and create dialogue around things many of us grow up feeling weird about. Shouldn’t your sex life be private and no business of your acupuncturist? Sure, if that’s what you’d prefer. But, sexuality is a shared human experience and directly related to your health. If it affects how well you live, I’m interested. Practicing holistic health care means looking at you and all of your habits–leaving out sex would be neglecting an essential piece of your health’s ecosystem. That being said, do not fear that your acupuncturist is going to be asking you detailed questions about your sex life–this is highly unlikely and not appropriate unless you are coming in for a sexually related condition. However, I think as far as general wellness goes, it’s a worthy topic to address. So here we go!
What does sex do to your qi/energy?
Sex, like any physical activity, affects the way qi (pronounced “chee”) or energy moves in the body. The physicality of sex: increased heart rate, sweating, blood flow, is beneficial in the same way as exercise. It moves qi. Sexual activity helps break up stagnant energy and speeds healing. From a scientific perspective, we know sex lowers stress hormones and can extend our lives as a result. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view is similar– all chronic disease comes from stagnant energy. The better the flow, the better your health.
The liver and lung system in TCM are the most directly impacted by physical activity. Heavy breathing strengthens lung qi, and helps break up areas of emotional grief that may not be fully processed. Sweating also clears pores, which in small doses helps regulate the lung system. Lungs open to the pores from a TCM view. The liver energy gets moved due to the circulatory system boost. All physical activity helps liver qi flow more smoothly. As a society, our liver qi tends to be stagnated due to overwork (detoxification) and stress, an emotion that taxes the liver system most. Read more about Signs of Liver Imbalances.
Orgasms affect kidney and liver system. The kidney system rules reproductive health and sexuality in TCM. Jing is a term used to describe the sexual energy/life force and Jing is both made and maintained in the kidneys. For men, every time you have an orgasm you are losing some qi in the form of semen. This literally drains your energy, and life force. Fortunately, you have a system that replenishes your qi. However, orgasms are more taxing for men for this reason. Women typically do not lose much fluid with orgasms. As we age our kidney Jing naturally declines. Orgasms can also drain kidney Jing and thus speed aging. Several ancient yogic and Taoist traditions teach coitus reservatus, also called karezza or semen retention, a technique where orgasm and ejaculation are not the goal of sexual activity, and thus this essential life force is retained.
How much is too much?
This is very dependent on your age, your gender, and your kidney strength. If you are under 35, have good energy, and no chronic illnesses, 5-7 orgasms a week is unlikely to cause any hastening of the aging process. If you are over 60, male, have lower energy, knee pain/back pain, are losing a lot of hair, or other signs of weakening Jing energy, more than 2 orgasms a week is likely to worsen your condition. Everything in between is going to be up to you and how you feel. It is important to keep in mind that this is a powerful energetic release, and while it has many health benefits, there are numerous benefits to reserving orgasmic energy. As with all things, balance is key.
Signs of strong kidney qi/Jing
- healthy teeth
- healthy full head hair
- healthy sex drive
- strong immune system
- good energy and stamina
- strong bones
- bright eyes
- good hearing
Signs of weakened kidney qi/Jing
- soreness of low back and/or knee
- thinning or balding head hair
- night sweats, hot flashes
- ringing in the ears
- low libido, impotence, or ED
- incontinence, frequent urination
- waking early in the morning
- weakened bones
- poor memory
- dental problems
- dark eye circles
- salt cravings
How to Strengthen Kidney Qi
Acupuncture and herbal medicine are both wonderful ways to strengthen your kidney energy. Acupuncture works on the kidney meridians to help redistribute energy that may be stuck elsewhere and direct it towards your weakened or deficient (in this case kidney) system. Acupuncture also lessons the stress load on your body, which helps slow aging and reduces the impact of poor diet choices/emotional stress/chemicals and toxins on your kidney system. Herbal medicine works by nourishing the kidneys themselves. Adaptogenic herbs, which help strengthen the adrenals, are commonly prescribed. Some you may be familiar with are ginseng, ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Rehmannia, or Schisandra.
Diet is another important player. Foods that strengthen the kidneys include bone broth (perhaps the most potent), marrow, liver and other organ meats, beef, and meat cooked on the bone. Plant-based foods that help include walnuts, goji berries (pictured), black beans, blueberries, black rice, cinnamon, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, sesame seed, garlic, ginger and nettle and juniper teas.
⇒For an assessment of your kidney qi or an individual diet, herbal, or acupuncture plan to help strengthen your kidney qi and improve your sexual vitality schedule an appointment.
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