top of page
  • Writer's pictureRichard Lai

#66 - Kidneys Failing to Receive Qi

Link to Study Guide Download at the bottom of this post!

Study Guide Link at Bottom of this Post

Transcript of Episode

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:00:00]:

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to study acupuncture with me. I'm your host, Richard Lai, and I make acupuncture board content for busy acupuncturists and acupuncture students just like yourself. And recently, I've been really obsessed with the kidney organ. And when I was treating a patient, I was really excited because during my evaluation when I was asking them questions, they said 2 things. They said that they were peeing a lot and recently they've been having to use their inhaler more. And I literally like snap my fingers and I was like wait I know exactly what that is. Because it is exciting when you're in clinical practice and things click sometimes.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:00:35]:

And I know that for some of you, you're in classes or you're in clinic and it feels like it just hasn't clicked yet. Now trust me when I say that it's going to get easier. You're gonna find your groove, and you're gonna find yourself going through peaks and valleys, and the only way to get through it is just to step with your best foot forward with the purest of intentions of just helping your patients. On top of that, of course, is just to continue on into this lifelong journey of learning about acupuncture and all of the intricacies that acupuncture comes with. Now this episode is on a pattern known as kidney failing to receive chi. And to understand the genesis of this pattern, we have to know that this pattern is a type of kidney yang deficiency. We also have to know that this pattern is this miscommunication with our kidneys and our lung, And we also have to know that this pattern is an impairment of one of the functions of the kidney, which is to receive chi. Now in terms of this pattern, what kind of manifestations are we gonna see with kidney failing to receive chi? Now one of the key manifestations that we're gonna see is shortness of breath.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:01:44]:

Your patient might say that they have trouble breathing. They might say that they're using their inhaler more, or they might just say that they have asthma. And these manifestations are happening because of one of the functions of the kidney being impaired, which what are the functions of the kidney? Here we have all of the functions of the kidney for you on the screen from the kidney organ storing essence and governing development all the way down to controlling the gate of life, which is also known as the minister fire or the mingmen. So with shortness of breath, this shortness of breath happens with exertion. Now this is happening in our patient because of a dysfunction of kidney function, number 4, which is controlling the qi. So the kidney, since it controls the reception of qi, which basically just means that it receives qi now the question is, where does it receive qi from? Now here's where lung comes into play. Now the lung, it has a function to descend chi. So the lungs, they inhaled air.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:02:44]:

It descends it down to our kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for receiving the chi and holding it down. Now there's an impairment of this function here. That's when we get manifestations like the ones we see in this first bullet point, which are shortness of breath with exertion, rapid weak breathing, difficulty inhaling, chronic cough, and asthma. Now with this pattern, we also could have spontaneous sweating. We could have cold limbs. So with spontaneous sweating, that's usually a manifestation of some form of chi deficiency, like, for example, lung chi deficiency. We know that the lungs, they govern our skin.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:03:23]:

That's where our pores are. Lungs also govern qi. Now when there's qi deficiency, the pores aren't controlled properly. That's why there's spontaneous sweating. We also said before that this pattern with kidney failing to receive chi, it's a type of kidney yang deficiency. And with kidney yang deficiency, we have that manifestation, that textbook manifestation of a feeling of cold. And with this pattern, the patient could also present with a thin body and mental listlessness. Now this is usually happening with chronic patients, meaning they have kidney issues or at least they've had kidney issues for a long time to the point where they've lost weight.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:04:05]:

And they have listlessness, which just means that they don't have the energy to do anything. They don't have the oomph to try and do things. That's what listlessness is. The next bullet point, we have facial swelling. Now this is a manifestation that has to do with the fluids in the body. Now the kidney, we know, has a function to govern water. We also know the lung. The lung also has a function to govern the water passages.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:04:30]:

So then in this pattern, there's facial swelling, and this facial swelling is happening because of kidney yung deficiency. When there's kidney yung deficiency, there's an impairment in the water function of the kidneys, which means that there's gonna be a lack of fluid transformation. A lack of fluid transformation can lead to edema. And here, the lung is also involved. The lung is impaired because there's a lack of this descending function. So that fluid is just going to accumulate. And where is it going to accumulate? It's going to accumulate upwards, like for example, in the face. So there's going to be facial swelling.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:05:04]:

Now the last bullet point we have here, which is what sparked my memory when I was with my patient and I nearly scared them half to death, is clear urination during an asthma attack. And so if your patient presents with kidney yung deficiency, they're gonna say that they're backwards or that they have a weak lower back. That's right. They're also gonna say that they feel cold. Like their arms, their legs, they feel cold. All that is happening because of yang deficiency. Another thing they're gonna say is that they have abundant, clear urination. And this is because of kidney function number 3, which is that the kidneys govern water.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:05:43]:

So, basically, the kidneys, they're kind of like a gate. This gate controls how much water is in our lower jowl. If there's kidney yang deficiency, that gate is gonna be wide open. So that means water is just gonna be pouring out. So So that's why there's abundant clear urination. But with kidney yin deficiency, the gate is gonna be locked. It's gonna be closed, or at least it's gonna be very closed. So only a little bit of fluid is allowed to flow into the lower jaw.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:06:08]:

So with my patient, she said she's been having to use her inhaler more. She's also been going to the bathroom a lot. When I asked her what color her urine was, she said that it was clear. It was pale yellow at best. So it triggered in my mind kidney failing to receive chi because of the clear abundant urination during an asthma attack. Now her pulse also presented as deep. It was relatively forceless when I found it, and her tongue her tongue always presents as pale. And with a deep and weak pulse, that's actually the textbook definition of yang deficiency, which I'll put on the screen for you a graphic of a deep pulse.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:06:46]:

So a deep pulse, when you palpate any pulse, you go through the three levels of pressure from superficial to deep. So with a deep pulse, you're not gonna find this in the superficial layer. You're not gonna find this in the middle layer. You're gonna find this pulse with heavy pressure in the deep level. This means near the bone. And when you do find it, if it's weak and forceless, then that's the textbook definition of yang deficiency. It's yang deficiency if it's deep and weak, meaning there's no energy. There's yang deficiency, so there's no energy for it to come up.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:07:22]:

Now what do we do for this patient? Well, we can use any number of these points that I have here listed on the screen. Some of them are gonna depend on how your patient's presenting, like if they're weak and deconditioned. If you use a ton of points like this, maybe that'll take more out of them than what you're trying to put in. It all really depends on how your patient's presenting and what they can handle. This point prescription I have pulled from Montgioja. It features a lot of points that either tonify or warm the kidneys. It features points that stimulate the kidney and the lungs to function normally, like, for example, kidney 3. That's a staple in most of my treatments.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:07:59]:

Kidney 3 is the urine source point of the kidney channel. Kidney 3, it can tonify kidney qi deficiency. It can tonify kidney yang deficiency, even kidney yin deficiency. It can actually even support kidney essence deficiency. And on this list here, we also have lung 7 and kidney 6. Now this is the opening and coupled point for the directing vessel or the renmin. And this point combination can actually activate the lung's function to descend chi and the kidney's function to receive the chi. We also have on here ren 17.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:08:30]:

Ren 17 is the influential point of chi, so that means it can tonify chi overall. Now I do get some comments that say that I should gear the content that I create more towards someone who's not an acupuncturist or an acupuncture student, but just someone who's interested in the study of acupuncture. So if you're someone who's doing acupressure on yourself while you're sitting at your desk, while you're just sitting and resting, from the list of points that I showed you before, I would do ren 4 and ren 6 because that's very beneficial for tonification. You can use hand over hand, and you can do circles in this area until your hand or your palm feels warm. Ren 4 and Ren 6 is located in your hypogastric area. That's the area between your belly button and your pubic bone. So you can take your palm and you could put hand over hand, and you can gently rub this area in a circle until you feel heat. You could do this in the morning, in the afternoon, and the nighttime.

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:09:25]:

It could be very beneficial for you. You can also move your hands up to ren 17. This is in the middle of your chest. And same thing, apply pressure with your palms in circles until you feel heat underneath your palms. Friend 17 is the influential point of chi, it can tonify chi overall in the body. Alright, everyone. And that brings us to the end of this episode. Now, if you want a kidney failing to receive chi study guide, you can get one from my website at

Dr. Richard Lai DPT LAc [00:09:56]:

I'll also link it directly in the description of this episode. And lastly, if you found this episode helpful, please share that wealth with a friend, share it on Instagram, share it on Twitter, share it on Facebook. And you can also let me know just by leaving a comment below. Alright, everyone. Until next time. God bless and happy studying.

Rate, Review, & Follow on Apple Podcasts

"I loved the way Dr. Lai explained that. I feel more prepared for the NCCAOM Acupuncture Board Exam" <<< If that sounds like you, please rate and review my podcast! This helps me support and reach more people just like you!

Click here, scroll to the bottom of the page and TAP to rate with FIVE STARS and select "WRITE A REVIEW." Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven't already, please follow the podcast. I'm adding episodes frequently, so if you're not following, there's a good chance you'll miss out. Follow now!


Get MONTHLY Study Guides

Join our email list and get access to the latest news and monthly study guides!

bottom of page