Live From Dialysis

Live From Dialysis, Post #4

Good morning,

In Chinese Medicine, the Kidneys are part of the Water element (partnered with the Bladder). The associated color is black (or blue/black). The season is Winter, the taste is salty, the emotion is fear, the sound is groaning.  The Water element opens to the ears. The Kidneys house will power.

For ten years, I have been contemplating the elements. How does the kidney energy work? How does this relate to me?

In general, I get the relationship: the kidneys physically house the Adrenal Glands (fear) and over-taxation of the Adrenals (via Adrenaline and Cortisol release) will wear you out (Kidney deficiency assessments in TCM). This is extremely common as an often subclinical pathology (“Adrenal fatigue” or HPA-D) and we address this A LOT at Woodstock Healing Arts, as its truly a foundational understanding of Functional Medicine.

Symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue/HPA-D include:

  • Insomnia
  • Ongoing experience of Stress
  • Unexplained Weight gain/loss
  • Glycemic Dysregulation
  • Endocrine/Thyroid dysregulation
  • Immune System Weakening
  • Other conditions resistance to healing

Did Adrenal Fatigue contribute to my kidneys failing?

Most likely, yes.

I lived by the motto: if you feel like you have too much on your plate, get a bigger plate. I maintained my private practice, treating about twenty clients/week, ran Body Local with Julian (which involved producing a thirty plus person event about twice/month as well as a 500 person event about twice/year), I lead Men’s Teams (generally meeting for 3 hrs/week)…  plus had a life (Venetia and then Aviva and Celeste, etc). It’s been a LOT, just recounting all of this I feel a touch of adrenaline surge through my body…

Did I have Adrenal Fatigue?

I honestly don’t know. I didn’t officially check my cortisol levels when I heard that my kidney numbers were declining. Honestly, my nephrologists (kidney specialists) didn’t think Cortisol levels would have been contributing to my decline. Should I have checked anyway, given what I know? Well, it certainly would have been interesting to know, but I don’t think it would have been that significant.

Adrenal Fatigue (or HPA-D) generally manifests because of a host of interruptions between the brain and (ultimately) the Adrenal Glands… and though the effects of HPA-D are significant, they tend to manifest globally (affecting the central nervous system, the endocrine system, etc) more so than targeting the kidneys themselves (at least this is what I see in practice).

But even still, aside from ruling out (in my mind), the potential disruptions of Cortisol levels, what are the lessons of the Water Element for me?

  • Can I hold my gaze at the raw fears that subconsciously shape my experience?
  • Can I have a healthy relationship with my own Will Power, using it appropriately in service of my true purpose on this planet?
  • Can I be humble enough to acknowledge my fears and yet act from my heart anyway?


These are some of the questions I am living these days. I want to use this writing platform to understand these better, so if you enjoy reading this blog, you can expect more on each of these…

More to come,



Ben Fleisher