Before we discuss the herbs supporting kidney health, let us first take a look at the function of our kidneys and the common problems we have with them.
Your kidneys are responsible for excreting toxic waste from the body while preserving the chemical integrity of its cells and tissues. They work to maintain an appropriate concentration of amino acids, electrolytes, and glucose. The work of the kidney takes place in tiny structures called nephrons. Nephrons filter toxins from the environment, drugs we use, waste produced by the body as well as foreign substances found in the plasma and lymphatic system.
They are also responsible for regulating body fluid, they filter and clean the blood and eliminate excess water through urine as well as reabsorb needed water and elements. Your kidneys also work closely with the circulatory system to maintain blood pressure and secrete the hormone aldosterone which helps to maintain proper fluid balance.
Urine travels to the bladder through tubes called ureters after its produced by the kidneys. The bladder is a hollow muscle that holds almost a litre of urine. Stretch receptors are special cells in the bladder that notify you when it’s getting full, signalling the urge to urinate. Urine leaves the body via the urethra.
Diet, exercise, and managing medical conditions play an important role in maintaining kidney health.
Problems related to the Kidney
Kidneys are highly vascular organs. Circulatory diseases which cause narrowing of filtration blood vessels or which increase blood pressure may affect your kidney function.
Blood glucose molecules are large and can be damaging to tiny vessels within the kidneys which could lead to renal failure. Therefore, people suffering from diabetes containing elevated blood glucose levels are especially at risk.
Kidney stones are collections of uric acid, calcium or cystine, and develop in the renal pelvis (the hollow centre of the kidneys). Some people are more prone to developing kidney stones and others may never experience them at all.
Kidney stones get stuck in the urethra when traveling down to the bladder causing severe pain. Urine may accumulate behind the stones which can lead to infection or damage to the kidney.
Stones can be excreted naturally with the help of herbs but may also require surgery or lithotripsy, a procedure that breaks up the stones using shock waves.
Other causes of kidney stones may be as a result of diseases such as cancer or kidney disease.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urethritis is an infection of the urethra and cystitis is an infection of the bladder, both are generally caused by bacteria. Urinary tract infections are quite common, painful disorders and are characterised by burning upon urination, urgency, and voiding in frequent small amounts. When untreated, these infections may spread to the kidneys. A fever or back pain may be a signal of kidney infection.
5 Herbs for a Healthy Urinary System
Herbs are very effective at preventing and relieving urinary tract problems. Here are a few herbs you can use to improve your kidney function.
Cranberries are antibacterial and help to prevent infections of the urinary tract. It does this by preventing bacteria from clinging to cells in the bladder. It supports the body by excreting bacteria through urine as well as prevents the bacteria from lodging itself on the inner walls of the bladder. This is where they usually grow. This is called anti-adhesion and researches have discovered that this may even help prevent cancer cell development as well as prevent the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers from lodging in the body too.
It also prevents urinary tract infection by making the urine more acidic which keeps bacteria growth at bay. And finally, the antimicrobial actions of cranberries also help to fight and prevent urinary tract infections.
Kidney stones comprised of calcium are effectively treated with cranberries.
It’s important to use unsweetened cranberry juice or unsweetened cranberries for healing purposes.
Parsley is beneficial whenever there is congestion of fluids in tissues or for those who suffer from high blood pressure. The diuretic properties of parsley help to increase urine flow and flush out excess fluid from the body thereby supporting kidney function. It reduces the build-up of toxins in the kidney and entire urinary tract making it a wonderful urinary tract tonic. Parsley enables the excretion of uric acid and can, therefore, aid in the prevention and expulsion of kidney stones.
Goldenrod tones the urinary tract and helps to detox the kidneys. It has a reputation for helping to flush the kidneys and dissolve kidney and bladder stones. It acts as an antiseptic diuretic which aids elimination of toxins and is useful in treating acute and chronic urinary tract infections, bladder weakness and incontinence.
Rosemary inhibits the action of the enzyme urease, which helps to form uric acid crystals. Thus, making it a good herbal remedy for preventing and treating kidney stones. Stimulate general circulation with rosemary which helps to improve your blood flow and balance body fluid. Additionally, it enhances the elimination of waste which supports the kidney function.
Dandelion has diuretic actions and is useful in water retention and urinary tract infections as it promotes the elimination of waste from the body. It has high potassium levels which help to replace potassium loss through increased urination. The diuretic action of dandelion treats high blood pressure by reducing the volume of fluid in the body. It improves the elimination of uric acid thus minimising the risk of developing kidney stones. Dissolve as well as remove stones and gravel with this powerful herb. Additionally, it helps to strengthen and improve weak kidneys.
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