The Best Herbs for Kidney Health
Today we're going over an extensive, but important topic, the Kidneys! Pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea, and get ready to learn.
The Renal System
The renal system, also known as the urinary system, consists of the kidneys, ureters, and urethra. The renal system filters approximately 200 liters of fluid daily, excreting toxins, metabolic waste, and excess iron while keeping necessary materials in the blood. Optimal kidney function is vital for efficient renal function, a precursor for overall metabolic health and well-being. [PMID: 30855923]
As herbal medicines increase in popularity, more and more people look to herbs for support in their overall health, both as a preventative measure and alternative treatment. As with everything, consult your doctor before making any changes in diet and food intake or adding dietary supplements or herbal products into your daily routine. Now, let's take a deeper look into the kidneys, what they do, and some of the best herbs for kidney health.
First, A Little Background - What are Your Kidneys?
Your kidneys are complex organs that perform vital functions in maintaining human life. They are responsible for filtering heavy metals and waste products out of the body while keeping fluids in balance. They are needed to rid of excess water through urine flow. These waste products go through these tubes called ureters and are then excreted from the body through the urethra. [PMID: 9829131]
What do they do?
The kidney modulates the body's plasma osmolarity by regulating electrolytes, solutes, and water in the blood. This function is essential because electrolytes, namely sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus, are all essential for sustaining basic life functions in the human body. Moreover, the body's electrolyte-water balance is needed to maintain because disproportions can lead to several adverse effects, such as developing kidney stones, water retention, and adrenal fatigue. [PMID: 31082167, 32594371]
Additionally, the kidneys convert vitamin D into an active form. Vitamin D obtained through sunlight, foods, and supplements must undergo two conversions to be biologically available to the body. The first conversion occurs in the liver, and the second occurs in the kidneys. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the body and regulates serum calcium and phosphate levels.
These processes are necessary for proper bone mineralization and for preventing involuntary muscle cramps and spasms. Additionally, Vitamin D aids in many health problems like inflammation and modulates numerous functions in the body: glucose metabolism, immune function, neuromuscular function, and cell growth. [PMID: 25045287]
Kidneys and Your Adrenals
Both kidney and adrenal health are necessary for maintaining electrolyte balance in the body. The adrenal glands are small, triangle-shaped glands on top of each kidney. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing hormones that regulate several functions in the body. Among these hormones is the mineralocorticoid hormone, aldosterone.
Aldosterone is necessary for regulating blood pressure and the electrolytes sodium and potassium. When this happens, aldosterone signals the kidneys to absorb more sodium into the bloodstream while releasing potassium into the urine. If the adrenal glands are overworked and not functioning optimally, this may lead to hyperkalemia or high potassium levels.
Hyperkalemia is a recurrent finding in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and is associated with decreased renal ion excretion and increased risk of heart arrhythmia and sudden death. Adrenal fatigue compromises aldosterone output, which is why supporting your adrenals is vital for your kidney and overall health. [33391739, 35104264]
Why is kidney health important?
This just scratches the surface of the number of functions the kidneys perform. Keeping your kidneys healthy will allow you to keep your overall health problems at bay. As alternative medicine becomes increasingly common, more are turning away from pharmaceutical drugs and looking to herbal remedies for support. Simultaneously, prevention is ultimately the best strategy for maintaining long-term health. Now let's discuss some of the best herbs to support kidney health in preventive and curative care.
6 Herbs for Kidney Health
Dandelion leaves have a long history of use for many ailments. It is considered to be a blood purifier and laxative and can even be used to treat arthritic and rheumatic pains as well as eczema and other skin conditions. Studies find dandelion leaves to have many biological activities including antioxidant, antiapoptotic, anti-inflammatory, and hepatoprotective effects. Traditionally, these herbs have also treated kidney, liver, gallbladder, and spleen-related conditions.
Regarding kidneys, dandelion leaves serve as nephroprotective agents, meaning they can protect and treat kidney damage. Additionally, dandelion leaves possess diuretic properties, so they help remove excess water and salt from the body, allowing for less bloating. They detoxify the liver and gallbladder, which can help your body remove excess toxins and heavy metals.
Because of their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, dandelion leaves support the kidneys in protecting against nephrotoxicity, or rapid damage and deterioration of the kidneys from harsh medicine or chemicals such as those used in chemotherapy. These actions make dandelion leaves one of the best herbs for treating kidney disease and supporting overall kidney function. [PMID: 35185411, 35405963].
Marshmallow root is an herb that has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments, from coughs to bacterial infections to joint pains. It also is extremely helpful for those who are dealing with poor kidney function. This herb is a potent natural diuretic, helping with fluid retention, edema, and excess bloating. Diuretics work by helping flush out any excess fluid your body may be holding. Increasing urine output may work to cleanse the kidneys and bladder, making it a powerful herbal supplement for treating kidney infections.
In addition to its diuretic properties, marshmallow root also works as an antibacterial. Antibacterials can help with urinary problems such as urinary tract infections. This property also provides a soothing effect when dealing with the discomforts caused by UTIs. The properties of this herb make it a good instrument for overall kidney support. [PMID: 25949951]
Hibiscus has been utilized for centuries because of its many healing properties. This herb is rich in vitamin C, B vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. It is known to aid in preventing many chronic and degenerative diseases associated with oxidative stress. Hibiscus is known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Concerning the renal system, hibiscus has numerous benefits. Hibiscus has anti-urolithic activity, meaning it aids in the prevention of developing kidney stones. Other studies find hibiscus beneficial in treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). Hibiscus also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help treat renal inflammation and maintain a healthy urinary tract.
Additionally, hibiscus is considered a promising new drug to reduce the progression of CKD, as it restores and supports damaged kidneys. These actions make hibiscus one of the best herbs to support your kidney function. [PMID: 27773797, 22057204 , 23157715, 24949007]
Burdock root has been used for centuries for its wide range of pharmacological activities, including antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and hypolipidemic properties. Western folk medicine uses burdock root as a blood purifier and a diaphoretic. Burdock root helps the body excrete toxins because it is a diaphoretic, which increases sweating. Studies show burdock root to have anti-oxidative stress activities, protecting against cellular damage.
Moreover, burdock root inhibits apoptosis (cellular death) and free radical damage, specifically in renal cells. Burdock root protects against kidney damage and can help those suffering from chronic renal failure.
Burdock root is one of the few plants that support the lymphatic system by stimulating drainage and detoxification. In addition, burdock root may increase urine output by stimulating the kidneys. This action prevents water retention by removing excess fluid, a necessary function for bladder and urinary tract health. [PMID: 34955856, 27876925]
Horsetail is a popular herb in traditional Chinese medicine used to treat a diverse range of various ailments. Some of the most widespread use of horsetail traditionally is for treating genitourinary diseases, such as kidney diseases, urethritis, and kidney stones. Studies found those with a history of uric acid kidney stones could increase their urine output by taking horsetail. Other studies suggest it may inhibit cancer cell growth.
Horsetail is also an anti-inflammatory agent and diuretic. Horsetail could reduce the damage done to kidneys due to conditions such as diabetes or hypertension because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
As an anti-inflammatory agent, horsetail could reduce the damage done to kidneys due to conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. As a diuretic, horsetail can help reduce bloating while cleansing the kidneys and bladder. All around, horsetail has numerous activities that make it beneficial in managing kidney disorders. [PMID: 33747109]`
Parsley is a widely used medicinal herb composed of coumarins, furanocoumarins, ascorbic acid, carotenoids, flavonoids, apiole, terpenoids, phenylpropanoids, phthalides, and tocopherol. These constituents give parsley its antimicrobial, anti-anemic, hypoglycemic, hypouricemic, and antioxidative properties. Parsley is known to fight inflammation and regulate blood pressure.
Because of its antioxidant and antibacterial activities, parsley may treat renal diseases. Studies also show the anti-urolithiasis effects of parsley, meaning it reduces kidney stones. It is also an anti-bacterial and diuretic, making it beneficial in treating urinary tract infections and excessive bloating. These actions make parsley an effective herbal remedy for kidney function. [PMID: 24374449 , 29181438]
Herbal Remedies for Healthy Kidneys
For centuries civilizations have relied on plants to treat numerous ailments. Herbs are powerful tools given to us in nature to combat many of the illnesses we face today. When used intentionally with consistency, herbs can provide many of the same remedies as modern medications without the side effects and risks associated with pharmaceuticals. Some herbs may interact with certain medications, so consult a doctor and use your discrepancy before diving into herbs.
Dandelion leaves, marshmallow root, hibiscus, burdock root, horsetail, and parsley are some of the best herbs you can take for kidney support. Together they help keep your electrolyte balance in check, support your detox channels, and reduce your risk of developing UTIs and excessive bloating. Taking care of your kidneys will improve your overall health and quality of life, as they are responsible for numerous bodily functions.
P.S.... Let's Talk Lifestyle
When it comes to health, it is beneficial to approach it through a holistic lens. Using herbs is a great way to support your whole body, but that doesn't discount the importance of developing a healthy lifestyle. Diet, fitness, work-life balance, and having healthy relationships are all equally as important in reducing your risk of developing health conditions and increasing your overall quality of life.
A diet that prioritizes the most nutrient-rich, bio-available types of food paired with a low-stress lifestyle and regular physical activity will play just as much of a role in your healing journey as the herbs mentioned above.
One of the best things you can do for your body is to educate yourself on your physiology. Understanding how everything works together and knowing what may be causing damage and what may be helping is how you will continue to find healing. Taking herbal teas daily, developing healthy habits, and adopting a low-stress lifestyle are some of the best things you can do to support yourself in your wellness journey.
**Disclaimer — Product statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is not medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider prior to use.