In my clinic, when I see a bulge at the top of the spine, I usually find a client who is exhausted. Perhaps they have suffered a shock through grief or are experiencing a chronic condition which feels like it is draining their very life force.

Sometimes this condition is called a widow’s or dowagers hump, which gives you an idea of an old woman who has been bent by the burdens of the world, weighed down with grief, loss and disconnection.  However this condition is becoming more common for a younger generation that leads a sedentary life, working sitting at computers most of the day.

Whatever the physical or emotional cause the result is a mound of fat accumulation at the top of the spine, which in terms of Chinese medicine is a failure of kidney yang to warm, regulate and move water around the body, building up as cold, damp fat.

In Chinese Medicine, if left untreated, can cause neck and shoulder pain plus it can prevent energy travelling up and down the spine creating headaches, back-pain, spinal degeneration and even compromising the immune system.


The path for flowing energy through the spine is the Governing Vessel. It starts between the kidneys, flows down inside the body to the perineum and then runs up the length of the spine, through the brain, over the top of the head and down the midline of the face.

Governing Vessel 14 (abbreviated GV-14) is the point at which the fat pad can accumulate. It is the intersecting point for all of the Yang meridians on the back of the body. When it is unobstructed and flowing well, it opens the yang, clears the brain, and calms the spirit. It can also dramatically increase white blood cell production and improve the immune system.

In Chi Flow with Jo we focus specific energy exercises to warm and move the energy in this location and you can sign up for a free class. But here I share a fantastic recipe, Adzuki Bean Tea, which in terms of the food energetics of Traditional Chinese Medicine drains dampness, increases water metabolism, improves digestion and reduces water retention


Adzuki beans are related to the Kidney system and so are especially good for increasing flow around the spine, ankles, knees and kidneys. As they reduce oedema so you will find that they will also reduce joint pain, bloating, whilst increasing energy and promoting better urination.

Adzuki tea is yang and warming, and is the kind of healing tea you want to sip on cold autumn/spring days or in or freezing winter, especially when you feel cold, weak, and exhausted.  Although the tea tastes mild, is quite potent. I would advise diluting it with hot water to begin with.

Adzuki Bean Tea

  • 100g of dried adzuki beans
1 litre of water
  • 2 inches of dillisk or wakame seaweed

1. Soak the adzuki bean in water for between 4-8 hours.  Wash and drain.
2. Place the washed beans in a pot with the seaweed and the water.
3. Bring the ingredients to a boil on high flame. Do not add salt.
4. When boiling, lower the flame to medium.
5. Let the beans simmer for about 30 minutes with the pot lid on .
6. Do not stir the beans.
7. Then strain the beans out and drink a small cup of the tea, either hot or at room temperature.
8. The colour of the liquid should be brown.
9. You can eat the same beans. Just add more water if needed, bring to a boil, and let simmer until soft.
10. You can store excess tea in a glass jar.
11. Keep any stored tea in the refrigerator.

Do not drink chilled adzuki bean tea and do not microwave the tea. You can drink the tea at room temperature or warm it up on the stove or what I find easiest is to add water from a recently boiled kettle and dilute it.

There is no specific time of the day to drink the adzuki bean tea; however,  the afternoon between 3 and 7, when the bladder and the kidney meridians are the most active is a prime time.
Use the cooked beans in wraps, stews and even mashed up and made into veggie burgers.  There’s a great Aduki & Cashew nut pate recipe in the Good Food Cookbook (page 82) and you can find more recipes for other Kidney Yang foods such as Chestnuts, Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Lamb and Sage.

Weakness in the kidney energy system often manifests as fear and insecurity.  But a person with balanced kidney energy is able to let go of the past, live in the present, and be undaunted by the future.

Sip this tea and say this affirmation “where I am is where I am meant to be, when I relax, everything I need comes to me”

Sign up for Free Class at the end of the month

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The information in my blogs are complimentary therapy and are not intended to replace conventional medicine. If you are having distressing symptoms please visit your healthcare practitioner.