Kidneys are vital organs in the body and make up the renal system. They are essential for maintaining normal body functions such as filtering, excreting, and conserving fluids and electrolytes.1 Complications can arise when they are not taken care of properly. As a result, listed are a few natural approaches for specific kidney disorders and diseases.
Chronic Kidney Disease
A common kidney disease associated with many comorbidities is chronic kidney disease or CKD. CKD is declining glomerular filtration rate less than 60mL/min/1.73m2 with accompanying electrolyte or protein imbalances.2 A few supplements for CKD include omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D 25-OH, and probiotic supplements.
Omega-3 for CKD
Omega 3 fatty acids in small studies showed benefit for renal function when dosed between 0.4 – 7.7g/day. However, the evidence is considered weak.2
Vitamin D for CKD
Furthermore, studies for vitamin D 25-OH suggested as adjunct therapy have linked a vitamin D deficiency to overall mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and decreased glomerular filtration rate. However, assessment of benefits versus risks to determine goals for levels and option of which vitamin D supplementation must be assessed.2
Probiotics for CKD
In addition, probiotic supplements are suggested for repair of intestinal microbiome in renal diseases. CKD can cause imbalances in the intestinal microbiome from excess ammonia and increased intestinal urea secretion. This can result in systemic inflammation,atherosclerosis, and increased toxins in the body. Studies conducted showed that probiotics mildly improved blood pressures.2 Hypertension or high blood pressure is a comorbidity in patients with CKD.
Herbals for CKD
A few herbals that have been studied are turmeric, Cordyceps sinensis, Ligusticum wallichii, and rhubarb root. Turmeric is an Asian spice that is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, and antimicrobial agent. In many studies involving kidney injuries, turmeric demonstrated improvements in the condition. Specifically, reduced proteinuria, hematuria, and systolic blood pressure.2 However, precautions are for higher doses of turmeric for overall drug-drug interactions and in patients with increased risk of bleeding and hypoglycemia, pregnant patients, and gallbladder disease.2
Urinary Tract Infection
Another kidney disease is urinary tract infection or UTI. UTIs are a common temporary condition and appears more frequently in women.3 There are two types of UTIs: simple or complicated. Simple UTIs involve bladder infection. Complicated UTIs involve an underlying disease or other outside factors that damage renal structures and cause the infection to move to the kidneys. Patients with a UTI should increase fluid intake.
Supplement for UTI
In addition to increased fluids, there are natural nutrients. Supplements and botanicals are D-mannose, cranberry, and uva ursi for prophylactic therapy.3 D-mannose plays a role in kidney diseases by concentrating in the bladder once it is in the bloodstream. When it is in the bladder, it blocks bacteria from adhering to the walls, reducing risks of infection. Studies have not shown if it is effective at preventing UTIs. However, there was a reduction in symptoms of recurrent UTIs.3 Some side effects of D-mannose are loose stools and abdominal bloating at high doses.
Cranberry Juice for UTI
Additionally, taking cranberry as a powder or juice is common practice for preventing UTIs. It works by inhibiting bacterial adhesion to the wall of the bladder and decreasing bacterial growth. However, the most therapeutic dose and frequency of cranberry have not been established. It is also inferior to antibiotics. In previous studies, cranberry was used in acute urinary tract infections.3 A precaution for taking cranberry is a possible drug interaction with warfarin. A counseling point for patients is to look at cranberry juice labels and be aware of the actual amount of cranberry in the product. Many beverages have an increased amount of sugar.
Botanical for UTI
Another herbal remedy is uva ursi or bearberry. It is a leaf that exhibits a conversion of arbutin to hydroquinone when broken down. A small study showed effectiveness in preventing UTIs when in combination with dandelion.3 However, long term treatment of uva ursi is not recommended due to potential toxicity with high doses and extended use. It is recommended for use in short term, acute treatments for no longer than 1 week and no more than 5 courses a year. Another concern is interference with urinalysis. Urinalysis diagnoses UTIs.3
Another kidney disease is kidney stones. These intensely painful conditions have been increasing in Americans over the recent years.4 Many kidney stones are unfortunately idiopathic. Collected lab values at time of diagnosis are calcium, oxalate, and uric acid. These values are important for diagnosis because they are materials for crystallization in kidney stones. A few natural approaches to preventing kidney stones include omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, probiotics, and Phyllanthus niruri.4
Supplements for Kidney Stones
Omega-3 fatty acids do not directly prevent kidney stone formation but help reduce urinary excretion of calcium and oxalate. In other words, it reduces chances of crystallization. Magnesium is believed to bind directly to oxalate and prevent crystallization of the stones. Examples of foods that contain magnesium are dairy, meats, seafood, avocados, green vegetables, and cocoa.4 Probiotics are thought to reduce kidney stones by degrading oxalate. There are several studies that showed decreased urinary oxalate levels but no explicit benefit in kidney stone reduction when taking probiotics.4
Herbals for Kidney Stones
Phyllanthus niruri is a Brazilian plant with efficacy in preventing recurrent stone formation in several human studies. However, patients with comorbidities like diabetes or hypertension must be careful because it has potential to increase anti-diabetic and antihypertensive medications. Pregnant women should not take herbs.4
There are a wide range of natural approaches to kidney health. The kidneys are imperative organs that help with filtration and regulation. When not taken care of, kidney diseases and injuries may arise, leading to more complications in the future. These natural methods are useful for patients that seek a homeopathic approach towards kidney health preventative care. For more information about kidney health and other useful dietary supplements, please visit Natures Reveal.To ask an online doctor or naturopath about this topic, please visit Just Health Experts.
1. Wallace, M A. “Anatomy and physiology of the kidney.” AORN journal vol. 68,5 (1998): 800, 803-16, 819-20; quiz 821-4. doi:10.1016/s0001-2092(06)62377-6
2. Litbard, Natalia. “Chronic Kidney Disease.” Integrative Medicine, by David Rakel, Elsevier, 2018, pp. 411-421.
3. Locke, Amy. “Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).” Integrative Medicine, by David Rakel, Elsevier, 2018, pp. 211-217.
4. Wu, Jimmy. “Urolithiasis (Kidney and Bladder Stones).” Integrative Medicine, by David Rakel, Elsevier, 2018, pp. 608 – 615.
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