It would be an understatement to say that the functions performed by a healthy pair of kidneys are vital to the human body. Located at get back of the abdomen, either side of your spine, your kidneys serve the immeasurably important purposes of regulating water and fluid levels in the body, purifying the blood by removing different kinds of harmful wastes in order for it to be safe for recirculation, regulating blood pressure, managing the acid to alkali balance of the body along with that of minerals and salts and producing hormones like erythropoietin which helps develop new red blood cells. The kidney flushes out the accumulated waste from all these processes through urination. Each day our kidneys filter 200 litres of blood and remove around 2 litres of waste diluted in water.
Types and Causes of Kidney Diseases
Chronic Kidney Disease is a growing concern of late owing to the health risks associated with the lifestyle of today. Due to the manner in which the kidneys are interconnected with the rest of your body, there are a number of diseases that can effect the level at which your kidneys function. These diseases and ailments include congestive heart failure, Legionnaire’s disease, diabetes, hypothyroidism and autoimmune diseases such as Lupus.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as alcoholism, recreational drug use and obesity can also impact your kidneys in a harmful manner. Prolonged exposure to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and aluminium are also known to hamper kidney function.
Believe it or not, stress is also a major contributor to kidney related issues. This post on Ask A Naturopath explains the link between the kidneys, stress and emotions in a slightly technical, yet easy enough to understand manner:
“In energetic medicine the kidneys house the emotion of fear and therefore many symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress are exhibited when there is an adrenal or kidney weakness. The adrenals sit on top of the kidneys and produce cortisol when stressed. Cortisol is a stress hormone which contributes to feelings of tension, irritability and unease due to it irritating the nerve endings. The adrenal’s stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline as well as rennin angiotensin also influences blood pressure. It is of benefit to try to reduce and manage stress so that there is a decrease in the production of stress hormones which atrophy the kidneys further and reduce filtration.”
Another common problem found in men and also in women above 50, is the development of calcium and and acid deposits inside the kidneys, normally referred to as kidney stones. While this condition is not as serious as chronic kidney disease and failure, it does cause a lot of discomfort if the stones travel to the bladder or the narrower tubes of your urinary system.
What are The Symptoms of Kidney Disease?
The National Kidney Foundation’s website houses a very useful FAQs section where they mention some of the warning signs of kidney disease that one should look out for. These include the appearance of blood in urine, frequent urination, particularly at night, difficulty or discomfort in urinating, puffiness around the eyes and swelling of the hands and feet. You would be advised to visit your doctor at the earliest if you notice any of these symptoms developing to assess the reasons. The process of decline in kidney function can be gradual enough to go unnoticed, since people can survive reasonably well with even the loss of one kidney altogether, so it is important to keep track of your blood pressure and Glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
How to Improve Kidney Health With Herbal Teas
Before you read on, please be warned that if you already suffer from any form of kidney disease it is crucial that you seek the opinion of your doctor before you use any herbal supplements or remedies because certain compounds can react adversely with different medicines and conditions, with potentially lethal consequences.
For those of you whose curiosity is more preventative in nature, there are many natural sources of nutrients that aid the health of your kidneys, and it is important to ensure you take steps to try and preempt damage. Anyone who has suffered the annoyance of kidney stones usually understands the importance of adequate fluid intake to ensure the health of your kidneys. Herbal teas are a very effective method to regulate the amount of fluids you consume during the day. Below are some of the teas that have been traditionally or commonly used, that are believed to aid the health of your kidneys in different ways.
- Green Tea: Having been consumed for thousand of years, Green Tea is believed to inhibit kidney stones as well as having anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties that help soothe and flush out infections.
- Dandelion: A known diuretic, dandelion helps flush harmful toxins and bacteria and is used as a tonic for the kidneys known to boost their overall health.
- Nettle: Nettle’s healing powers as a bactericide limit the reproduction of bacteria and it’s diuretic effects help rid the body of harmful toxins. It is known to boost the overall health of your digestive and urinary system due to its high chlorophyll content.
- Couch Grass: Found everywhere in the world other than Africa, Couch Grass has been used medicinally since 25 AD and is known to relieve or dissolve stones, while also flushing out harmful toxins due to its diuretic nature.
- Java Tea: Native to Asia and Australia, this tea is widely used as a remedy to kidney ailments including stones, infections while improving overall function by eliminating nitrogen-containing compounds.
- Uva Ursi: Native to Europe and the Arctic, Uva Ursi, also known as bearberry, has been prescribed medicinally since the 2nd century. It’s anti-sceptic and anti-bacterial properties act as a disinfectant and astringent for the kidneys.
- Rehmannia: The most popular herbal remedy used for the kidney in Chinese Medicine, Rehmannia Root with its anti-oxidant properties, is mainly used as a kidney tonic. It is also used to treat autoimmune diseases such as Lupus which disrupt normal kidney function.
- Cranberry Tea: A common remedy for kidney stones, Cranberry Tea can dissolve calcium deposits in the kidneys due to its acidic and antibiotic properties, along with its high Vitamin C content.
- Parsley Tea: With a long history of use by the Native Americans for its healing properties, Parsley Tea is a mild diuretic and antiseptic which helps to flush out harmful bacteria from the kidneys and bladder.
For those of you who wish to adopt a more holistic approach, this article on Alternative Medicine discusses some very manageable tweaks you can implement in your current lifestyle to aid the overall health and function of your kidneys. Remember, just because the kidneys are an unnoticeable internal organ doing a thankless job, does not mean they should be taken for granted. It is well worth visiting your doctor for a checkup and seeking advice on how to improve the health and function of your kidneys through natural remedies and lifestyle changes.