Natural herbs have the potential to improve overall kidney and urinary tract health, prevent and treat kidney stones, and possibly assist with more serious kidney disease. They've been used in that capacity throughout time. But modern medicine has many concerns.
Rose hips, dandelion, cat's claw, cranberry, goldenrod and hawthorne are some of the primary herbal cures for kidney problems that natural health practitioners turn to.
Hawthorne is a shrub related to the rose. Ancient medical practitioners nearly as far removed as the time of Christ were known to have utilized it for prevention of both kidney and heart ailments. These two issues go hand in hand because heart disease is the number one killer of those who develop kidney disease.
Cat's claw has been utilized for centuries as an elixir for kidney health. It grows primarily in Peru and was a favorite healing tool of the Incas. It is currently being researched as a possible treatment for many diseases including HIV, Alzheimers, arthritis and cancer.
Dandelion is often referred to as lion's tooth or blowball. Native American and Arabic medical practitioners have used it throughout history as a treatment for spleen, liver and kidney disease. The entire plant, though more commonly the leaves and roots, are used either fresh or dried in extracts, capsules and teas.
Kidney Stone Relief
Cranberry, goldenrod, and rose hips are herbs used in the prevention and treatment of kidney stones. It's believed that extracts from these may help resist the development of stones by minimizing accumulation of calcium in the urinary tract. Lemon juice is also said to be effective in the treatment of kidney stones, but it works to dissolve rather than prevent.
Author Michael Moore, in the book "Herbs for the Urinary Tract," suggests additional treatment options for those who have already developed kidney stones. Among those are burdock, horsetail, couchgrass, dandelion, chicory root, sheperd's purse, nettles and cleavers.
Herbal extracts from marshmallow, corn silk, sheperd's purse, yarrow and Canadian fleabane are used to soothe an irritated urinary tract after damaging kidney stones have passed through the system.
Many traditional medical practitioners, researchers and institutions are skeptical when it comes to accepting herbal cures for kidney problems. One of the largest impediments is the lack of scientific evidence along with concern over supplements and manufacturers that are not regulated by government agencies.
"Herbs that may be problematic are those with diuretic properties," states the American Association of Kidney Patients. "Goldenrod, parsley, uva ursi and juniper berries fall into this category. In fact, juniper and parsley effects are created by irritation of the kidney's epithelial tissue. Alfalfa and dandelion contain high levels of potassium, of particular concern for those taking potassium-sparing diuretics."
However, the group goes on to state it believes there is potential benefit from some herbs: "Should someone with chronic kidney disease avoid all herbal products? No, not necessarily. Green tea is an example of a herb that confers benefit with low risk. There is no reason why selected herbals felt to have potential benefit, such as green tea, cannot undergo large, multicenter research trials."
People experiencing kidney problems should be extremely cautious before consuming herbal compounds. The kidneys are already straining through the process of removing excess waste. Herbal remedies may react in an unknown manner with prescribed medication. Those with kidney issues should consult their renal physician or dietitian before using herbal cures for kidney problems.