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In western medicine there are many reasons given for back problems such as bad posture, or an old mattress, not bending properly, slipped discs, degenerative changes in the bones and vertebrae and osteoporosis in women said to be caused by hormonal imbalances.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the bladder meridian which represents part of the water element runs along the back and therefore problems encountered in the back are said to stem from this source rather than “outside” factors.

The bladder is responsible for storing and excreting the urinary waste fluids passed down from the kidneys. As an organ the bladder has only this function, but in TCM, as an energy system the bladder is intimately related to the functions and balance of the autonomous nervous system. That's because the bladder energy meridian runs along the back of the body from head to heal, with two parallel branches flowing along each side of the spinal column. These four branches of the bladder meridian exert a direct influence on the sympathetic and parasympathetic trunks of the autonomous nervous system.2

The kidney meridian is the bladder’s partner meridian. The kidneys themselves are responsible for filtering waste metabolites from the blood and moving them onwards to the bladder for excretion in urine. Along with the large intestine, the kidneys control the balance of fluids in the body. In addition, they regulate the body's acid-alkaline balance (pH) by selectively filtering out or retaining various minerals.

The kidneys control the growth and development of bones and nourish the marrow, which is the body's source of red and white blood cells.

The Chinese view the spinal cord and the brain as forms of marrow, and therefore poor memory, inability to think clearly, and backache are all regarded as indicators of impaired kidney function and deficient kidney energy .

Therefore in treating back problems it is important to balance one’s sodium/potassium levels as the kidneys and bladder represent these minerals. It is easy to get out of balance in those minerals today as often more sodium is taken in, in the form of foods preserved in saline solution or pickled in salt  and these would deplete potassium levels in the body.  This in turn would also affect  the rate at which the kidneys absorb or excrete water and other minerals.  Minerals are required for bone and marrow formation and for keeping the body’s internal pH alkaline.  Should the body become slighly acidic this change will effect bone structure in that bone will need to be reabsorbed in order to create an alkaline buffer which is why arthritis and osteoporosis are present when the body is in an acidic state.

Correcting back problems and congestions in the TCM way would therefore ensure a balance in sodium/potassium in-take, pure liquid intake of water (even in western medicine it is noted that some backaches can be cured through the drinking of water), herbal teas, fresh juices; ensuring a largely alkaline diet to stop excessive acidity and bone loss, and ensuring that sufficient minerals for new bone and marrow formation and alkalinity are being ingested.

2.     www.lieske.com/5e.html    downloaded in April 2003
4.     International School of Reflexology & Meridian Therapy, Study Notes 2003
14.    Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Third Edition, Balch & Balch, ISBN 1-58333-077-1

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