Summer's Back: Is It Supporting You?

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I have treated a LOT of people for low back pain this past month -- far more than usual. Even people whose back pain was gone had it flare up again, though they had been exercising, eating well and taking their herbs. And I, who rarely experience back pain, started to feel it, too -- a very unusual experience for me -- and it didn't respond to my normal formula. What was going on?

The first thing I thought of was that being June, it is opposite the Kidney time of year, which means the Kidney-adrenal energy is at its lowest now -- and will remain so through the first week or so of August. What results is that anyone with low Kidney energy anyway, or who has over-worked too long (moi!) or not gotten enough sleep or rest, will experience Kidney symptoms stronger this time of year.

Not only can lower back pain occur, but also issues concerning the urinary system, night-time urination, poor memory (especially short-term), weak knees, joint problems, swollen ankles, leg edema, early morning diarrhea, teeth problems, brittle bones, senility, fear, paranoia, hormonal issues, thinning hair or loss of head hair, lack of will power, ear and hearing problems, premature aging, infertility and sexual problems. WHEW! What a list! As you can see, the Kidneys have a far-reaching affect on the whole body. But that's not all. As the Kidneys are the power behind the senses and the Organs, other issues with underlying Kidney involvement can worsen now, too.

So back to back pain. My usual favorite formula for this condition is Du Huo and Loranthus Combination (Duo Huo Ji Sheng Tang), also known as "Solitary Hermit" in the Plum Flower brand of patent medicines. I find this works brilliantly for low back and knee pain and it's normally the first formula I try (unless the person has obvious Heat signs). Yet even those who had had success taking it began to feel back pain again. What now?

This time I thought about the Kidney involvement in back pain. Lower back pain often begins in the kidneys -- although most people aren't aware of this -- and then it refers to other areas, such as the waist, sacrum, hips, knees and sciatic nerves. So what's one of the best formulas I know for the kidneys? Planetary Formulas' Schizandra Adrenal!

Schizandra Adrenal is fabulous for helping the Kidneys to filter and hold their energy better. This means the kidneys no longer hurt and weakness and pain disappear, no matter where it was felt -- the sacrum, hips, etc. So I gave this formula to my back pain patients and voila! -- pain released! In a few cases I gave both formulas together and for some, I increased the normal dose, which is usually important to do short-term in acute conditions to get results.

Schizandra Adrenal works well for both kidneys, but especially for left-sided pain since that is the Kidney Yin side. If the pain is more right-sided, then Kidney Yang needs to be tonified. This is easily done by adding in a small handful of walnuts daily (see Michael's newest blog!) and/or 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder -- or take one Planetary Formula cinnamon tablet with the Schizandra Adrenal.

Of course regardless of what herbs are taken it's important to treat the Kidneys with their key remedy -- rest! The best way to strengthen the Kidney-adrenals is to rest and sleep followed by doing meditation, qi gong and other rejuvenating therapies. As well, those foods that easily and quickly deplete Kidney energy should be reduced or eliminated: sugar, excessive fruit juices, alcohol, caffeine (especially coffee), iced drinks, ice cream and other frozen treats.

So if you or someone you know is experiencing back pain now, get everyone back on track with your summer by taking these formulas and getting lots of rest! Happy summer to you all!


Du Huo And Loranthus (Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang): use for arthralgia, chronic sciatica, rheumatic arthritis, pain in the lumbar region and knees with a cold sensation and difficult joint movement, intolerance of cold and preference for heat, a light-colored tongue with a white coat, and a weak and feeble pulse.

  • poria (fu ling), 9 g
  • prepared rehmannia (shu di huang), 6 g
  • angelica (du huo), 6 g
  • loranthus (sang ji sheng), 6 g
  • angelica (dang gui), 3 g
  • white peony (bai shao), 3 g
  • ligusticum (chuan xiong), 3 g
  • ginseng (ren shen), 3 g
  • licorice (gan cao), 3 g
  • eucommia (du zhong), 3 g
  • gentian (qin jiao), 3 g
  • siler (fang feng), 3 g
  • cinnamon bark (rou gui), 1 g
  • asarum (xi xin), 1 g

NOTE: Loranthus is mulberry mistletoe

Schizandra Adrenal: This is basically Rehmannia Six Combination (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan) with several astringents added -- schisandra, plantain, and rubus -- along with the Blood and Yin tonic, lycii, and the Yang tonic, cuscuta.

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