“Where’s the Bathroom?” (aka: frequent urination)

“Where’s the Bathroom?” (aka: frequent urination)

My case of frequent urination began at a very early age: around 9 or 10 years old. By the time I was a teenager, my life was controlled by the availability of a bathroom due to the need for using, about once per hour. After numerous tests, including a very painful procedure involving enlarging the urethra, I was assessed with having an untreatable condition with no known cause.

Sometime in my mid twenties I developed digestive issues AND I still had frequent urination. I had the good fortune at this time, to meet an acupuncturist at a workshop. She noticed that I was making very frequent visits to the bathroom all through the workshop, and suggested acupuncture as a possible treatment to cure this problem. However, I was terrified of needles, plus I also felt pretty hopeless about anything helping my condition. Over time, I became good friends with the acupuncturist and decided to allow her to insert one needle. Suffice it to say I discovered it was no big deal and proceeded to receive regular treatments, along with herbal therapy prescribed by my acupuncturist. After 1 & ½ years, my condition was completely reversed. Since I had the problem for close to 20 years, it felt like a reasonable time frame to reverse an “untreatable” condition.

In Chinese Medicine we think of frequent urination as a problem with the kidneys not the urinary bladder. The kidneys provide the energy for the bladder to contain the urine. Frequency is a different measure than volume, with this model. If a person has frequent urination, the number of trips to the bathroom stays pretty much the same with just the volume changing, when the amount of water consumed is higher. The other important distinction of Chinese Medicine is that deficiency patterns, such as frequent urination, have a different strategy for treatment than excess patterns, such as kidney stones. For frequent urination it is recommended to only drink water when you are thirsty as too much water makes the kidneys work harder. If you have kidney stones, then it is a good idea to drink lots of water.

If you have frequent urination what are some things you can do to help minimize or at least slow down the progression? First and foremost is getting enough rest. Going to bed by 9:30pm or 10pm to avoid cortisol surges, which negatively affects the adrenals, a significant part of the Kidney system. Rest also includes taking breaks when you are tired, such as those wonderful power naps Chad mentioned earlier, plus following the 70/30 rule. What that means is to only use 70% of your total available energy at any given time. This is potentially very challenging for Kidney deficient folks as they often use their will to power through, as a chronic coping strategy. In other-words, they rarely know what their 70% is. If you suspect this is an accurate picture of yourself, it’s very helpful to have an ally. Someone who can point out that you are in over-do-it mode and actually encourages you to take a break when you need one. Speaking from experience, it is potentially a difficult habit to break.

Seasons that are more challenging are winter and the transition into spring when temperatures go to extremes very quickly. One of the many functions of the Kidney system is to regulate our internal temperature: keeping us cool in summer and warm in winter. Heating is generally more demanding, so in times of cold weather it is even more important to get enough rest. Hibernating bears have the right idea.

Exercise that doesn’t require a huge exertion is more supportive for Kidney deficiency. This principal is sort of shunned in the west, where everyone is viewed as being the same kind of tree: exercise hard and use your will to power through. Some people are pine trees, some are coconut, etc. Each tree needs different conditions to thrive. For deficiency conditions, less is generally more.

My next comment will probably illicit annoyance from many of those reading this article. Here, in America, we like to think of ourselves as immortal. We expect to do just as much when we are 60 years old as 40 years old. However, to age gracefully, it may be more appropriate to tune in and really listen to see how much energy is in the savings account and spending it wisely. This is why you see middle aged and the elderly doing Chi Kung in the parks of China: they can no longer deny the effects of aging and wish to enhance their savings account and make it last. Age appropriate exercise has a very significant outcome. Some people age more quickly, due to what they have inherited, and of course the opposite is true. So the important thing is to learn how to listen and feel what is right as an ongoing process.

I will end this article with an image that will hopefully be helpful to those of you reading that can’t help over-doing. A number of years ago, when Chad and I were in the first stages of developing People’s Choice, I came home from work really tired. On the couch was a gigantic pile of laundry. Rather than folding, I decided to read a little so I pushed the laundry aside to make room for myself. About 4 hours later, Chad came home and took one look and started to applaud. This had a huge impact for me and is an image I treasure. It contradicts all of my up-bringing that says I was just being lazy. Does this sound familiar? We really are own worst critics and it is so important to avoid comparing ourselves to others. We inherit strengths and weaknesses and acknowledging this has the potential to empower and truly reveal our gifts.