This particular symptomology has been a lot in the news lately, what with Time Magazine have a front cover story on it, and the C.E.O. of Intel having been diagnosed with it. Also we have Frank Zappa and Timothy Leary dying of it in recent months. I have counseled perhaps 15-20 men with prostate cancer over the past several years and all of them have had, after being on a macrobiotic dietary program I recommended to them for two to three years, (of course, they still eat macrobiotically) a complete remission of the cancer as determined by their doctors.
From the macrobiotic perspective, the kidneys/bladder are the 'ruling organs' of the urogenital organs, which means any symptomology developing in the sexual organs, kidneys and bladder are the result of imbalances and stagnations in the kidneys. There are many symptoms which indicate the kidneys/bladder are weak and stagnated.
Physical symptoms include excessive sweating and urination, including having to go to the bathroom after one has gone to bed at night, pain when urinating, the urine is a pale watery color, or dark brown, frequent urination, sometimes with not much urine coming out when one does urinate. The pain is due to irritation caused by inflammation and /or infection. There may be pain and/or stiffness in the mid-region of the back in the area where the rib cage ends near to the spine. Kidney/bladder weakness also manifests as tiredness, especially between the times of 4.00-6.00PM, and general overall fatigue.
Psychological symptoms include anxiety, insecurity, fear, loss of self-confidence or the opposite, excessive confidence and foolhardiness.
Causes of Kidney/Bladder weakness, stagnation and toxicity.
1. Too much liquid.
This is probably the most significant of all the causes of kidney weakness. Of course, it is commonplace for people today to drink 8-12 eight ounce glasses of liquid a day because this is what most doctors recommend. The reason given for drinking so much liquid is "to flush out" the kidneys. However, the kidneys do not function like a faucet; they are filtering organs and they can only filter so much fluid in any given unit of time, and if they are forced to filter too much liquid they become tired, weak and swollen.
The reason physiologically for recommending people to drink so much liquid is the consumption of animal protein leads to the production of uric acid and ammonia, which are both toxic to the body. Thus drinking lots of fluid will " flush these out" and also dilute their concentration in the body.
If you decide to adopt a macrobiotic dietary practice, liquid intake, over and above the bowl or two of miso soup you may consume daily, is no less than three and no more than five eight ounce glasses of fluid a day(unless you are thirsty).
The type of fluids recommended are limited to bancha twig tea, roasted brown rice tea, roasted barley tea, roasted corn tea, dandelion root tea and burdock root tea. Water quality should be either purified tap water or spring water.
Beverages to avoid include coffee, green or black teas, aromatic herb teas, beer, wine, liquor, all soy drinks, tap water, mineral water, carbonated sodas, sweet diet drinks, milk and milk products, and cold/iced drinks.
It is important to refrain from eating foods which have a high watery content, like fresh mushrooms, asparagus, fruits, tomatoes and potatoes.
2. Too much salt, too little salt, and poor quality salt.
Of all the foods human beings consume, salt is the most yang in terms of yin and yang.Thus it has a tremendous contracting, hardening, densifying effect upon the organs and tissues of the body. The refined sea salt which is commonly used as table salt is totally lacking in any minerals, being virtually constituted of sodium and chlorine alone. Table salt is thus less contracting and densifying than unrefined sea salt,(which in addition to sodium chloride contains anywhere from 80-100 trace elements which are important for proper mineral balance in the body), but since it is a refined food, places demands upon the mineral physiology of the body to make balance for what is lacking in the refined salt. This important effect of common salt means minerals have to be leached from the bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles to make up the balance for what is lacking in table salt.
(Incidentally, with these two causes of kidney problems, too much liquid and poor quality salt, we have the two primary causes of sports injuries. This is a topic which requires a more lengthy explanation and I will get to it one of these months)
The contracting effect of salt thus causes hardening and tightening of the kidneys, and since the kidneys have the important function of balancing the mineral content of the blood and tissue fluids, the refined sea salt causes additional stresses to the function of the kidneys over and above the contracting, hardening quality of the salt itself.
Too little salt leads to less than vigorous, dynamic activity of the kidneys which then become weakened as a result.
Thus traditionally drawn sea salt (the method used to draw the sea salt out of the ocean water is very interesting in itself) is the recommended quality of salt and since, of all the substances human beings ingest, sea salt is the most important, I have to say that I know of only two sea salts I recommend. The best of these is sold under the brand name "Si-salt", which is drawn from the ocean waters off the shores of Baja in Mexico, and I think it a superior quality to any other sea salt of which I know because it is the only one which is stone ground. This means the crystalline structure of the sea salt crystals are maintained. All other sea salts use the high speed mechanical method of 'hammer-milling' to break the large sea salt crystals to the powdery form we buy in the store. The other sea salt I recommend is sold under the brand name "Lima Seasalt". This one is drawn from the ocean waters off the coast of Belgium.
It is very important that sea salt is only used for cooking purposes. Do not get into the practice of pouring sea salt or any salty product, e.g., tamari etc., on top of your food once it is on the plate.
As for quantity of sea salt eaten per day, this is very much an individual question so I am not going to say anything about it.
3. Animal protein.
Animal protein is also on the more extreme yang end of the 'Spectrum of Human Foods' (See the Alchemycal Page, "Introduction") and therefore has a hardening, condensing effect upon the kidneys. All animal products should be avoided in the case of kidney stagnation, which means avoid meat, chicken, fish and all dairy foods.
All cold foods and drinks have a hardening and swelling effect on the kidneys. It is also important to refrain from foods which have a cooling effect in the body. These include raw food, fruits and fruit juices, alcohol and sugar products and any chemically produced, or refined foods, including supplements, blue-green algae, tofu, refined flour products.
All foods which contain hardening saturated fats are to be avoided and the use of oil restricted to sesame, corn or olive oil depending on where you live and your condition. Of course, tofu is high in fat and should be avoided for this reason also.
A significant cause of kidney damage is frequent air travel. This I have derived by inference from the experience of astronauts. It is well known astronauts, when they go into space, experience significant mineral loss from their bones. I mentioned above the kidneys are the organs which co-ordinate the mineral metabolism of the physical organism. They, in terms of the Five Transformation Theory of Traditional Eastern Medicine, rule the bones. In terms of yin and yang, when we go up into space at great heights, our organism becomes subjected to more yin influences (space being very yin relative to earth), and consequently the body fluids become more yin and the body responds to this, due to the action of the kidneys, by leaching minerals out of the muscles, ligaments and bones to compensate. Since these are stressful conditions, the kidneys become weaker. Now, if we are traveling frequently by air, though to a lesser degree than traveling in space, our body also experiences this yinnising process and consequent mineral depletion of the bones and stress on the kidneys.
The important psychological state which damages the kidneys is chronic fear and anxiety. (Of course, the opposite is also true- as the kidneys become damaged we tend to act more out of fear and feel anxious most of the time). Now, having said that, it would be obvious to say we need to eliminate this psychic state from our lives but that is not an easy task. If you were to ask what is the dominating impulse behind modern civilization in terms of psychology, you would have to say we are a fear driven civilization. There is a great deal of evidence of this everywhere we look. Thus fear is a deep rooted mystery and it is a topic which demands a lengthy dissertation if we are to get to the root of understanding why fear is so pervasive in human life. This I will leave to a later time. However, there is no question of us being able to be less fearful once we start eating macrobiotically, because as the kidneys/bladder heal we tend not to be so anxious and fearful in our everyday lives.
Now, having enumerated all the possible causes of kidney damage, and seeing that all these causes apply to just about everyone in the US all the time, is there any evidence of kidney problems in the population? I haven't kept up with the statistical data in the US since 1985, but that year it was estimated there are one million new cases of kidney failure in the US every year.
Also, as anecdotal evidence, one day, several years ago, I was walking down a street in Berkeley when I came across this huge empty cardboard box on the sidewalk, and being curious as to what such a large cardboard box should contain, it being the size of a large refrigerator, I looked at the printing on it which informed me it contained "Adult Diapers". I immediately realized these were to be used for adults who suffer incontinence and it was an eye-opener to see them being sold in such a large container. Then, not too many weeks later, I was visiting some friends in Sacramento, and while there we went shopping at one of these wholesale warehouse-type places, and I was completely amazed to see that along one wall, stacked from one end of the warehouse to the other and from floor to ceiling was nothing but these cardboard boxes containing adult diapers. So, obviously, many adults have kidneys/bladder weakness which shows up as them needing to buy vast quantities of diapers to deal with the problem of incontinence.
Of course, it is important to begin a macrobiotic dietary practice if one has prostate cancer, or any of the symptoms I have described which indicate kidney/bladder problems (and I have by no means mentioned all of the possible symptomology indicating kidney/bladder stagnation). Notice I say a macrobiotic dietary practice, for although the elements of a macrobiotic diet are the same for everyone, they are not necessarily put together the same way in every instance; thus it is very important to get advice from someone who is an experienced macrobiotic practitioner, and to study the books which are available.
In addition to a macrobiotic dietary practice the following are helpful procedures:
1.The Ginger Compress on the Kidneys two-four times a week for a total of 64 compresses.
2. Salt baths:
2 lbs of any kind of Seasalt or rock salt placed in a hot bath(as comfortably hot as you can stand it) in which you soak for 15-20 minutes, twice a week for six weeks. Avoid hot baths as a regular practice; use a shower to wash yourself instead.
3. Aduki Bean Tea:
Take 1/4 Cup Hokkaido Aduki Beans(for purposes of strengthening the kidneys/bladder these are the best quality aduki beans to use), place them in a saucepan and dry roast them for 15 minutes over medium heat.
Add two cups of water and bring to a boil. Let simmer until half the liquid has evaporated. Strain out the beans, which will need further cooking to make them digestible, and eat them in a soup or bean/vegetable dish.
To the remaining one cup of aduki bean juice add 1/4 teaspoon tamari or soy sauce. Drink one third of a cup a day for three days. Repeat this procedure each week for the next five weeks so that you drink a third cup of aduki bean juice for three days each week for a total of six weeks.
4. A food which is particularly specific for the prostate itself is pumpkin seed. Consume a quarter of a cup of dry-roasted pumpkin seeds daily for six weeks.