Kidneys (general health)

General characteristics

General characteristics

The kidneys are a pair of organs that sit towards the back of the abdominal cavity either side of the spine, just beneath the level of the ribcage. They are richly supplied with blood - approximately 25% of blood pumped with each heart beat ends up in the kidneys - and are connected to the bladder via the ureters (one for each kidney) which in turn empty into the bladder. The kidneys are effectively filters but also secrete several important hormones.

Each day the kidneys filter around 175 litres of blood (about 6 or 7 litres per hour), filtering out waste products (such as urea) and recycling valuable nutrients and substances such as water, glucose, vitamins and minerals. Only around 1% of this volume is actually excreted by the kidneys as unwanted waste products in the form of urine. The rest is either stored in the kidneys or secreted back into the blood as needed, depending on blood levels of each substance or nutrient.

The role of the kidneys includes the maintenance of water volume in the body, the regulation of sodium and potassium levels (too high and the kidneys excrete more as waste, too low and they retain it and secrete back into the blood), maintaining the balance of minerals, they maintain the acid/alkali balance in the blood, they help regulate blood pressure by balancing water and salt levels, they secrete a hormone (erythropoietin) which helps stimulate red blood cell production and secrete a form of vitamin D involved with calcium levels and bone density.

It is easy to see that with such a constant heavy workload, it is relatively easy for the kidneys to become burdened and weakened, especially with poor diet, poor lifestyle choices and environmental factors adding to their burden of maintaining balance and health. Poorly functioning kidneys can lead to many disease processes such as high blood pressure, the build up of toxins and wastes in the blood, general fatigue, low bone density and strength, water retention, heart problems, anaemia and kidney stones. Conditions affecting any of the other elimination channels, such as chronic constipation or poorly functioning skin, will lead to an increased burden on the kidneys as they are forced to work even harder to try to filter waste laden blood.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

A Mediterranean type diet based around the consumption of copious amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, raw salads and raw olive oil is shown to benefit the kidneys and contribute to their overall health and proper functioning. Freshness is key to the Mediterranean diet so avoid foods that are tinned or processed.

Use sesame seed oil as a dressing on foods.

Avoid refined carbohydrates, simple sugars and too many starchy foods like potatoes and white rice. Over reliance on these foods contributes to many of today's chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.

Avoid too much red meat and organ meats. If you do eat meat it should be organic, fresh, local and unprocessed ideally.

Avoid drinking fizzy drinks, even carbonated water, as the phosphorous compounds contained in them leaches calcium from the bones and places an extra burden on the kidneys.

Don't use ordinary table salt as it is highly processed and damaging to health. Use sea salt or similar in very small amounts if you need to add salt to food.

Goji berries (also known as wolf berries) are beneficial to the kidneys, as well as the eyes, liver and immune system so try to eat a handful every couple of days or add dried berries to a muesli mix.

Flaxseeds/linseeds are also a good food for the kidneys so add to muesli mixes or munch a small handful.

Okra (ladys fingers), watermelon, parsley, garlic, onions, sweetcorn, dark green leaves, kidney beans, asparagus, berries, grapes and sprouted seeds and grains are all beneficial to the kidneys when eaten as part of a balanced diet.

Avoid too many caffeinated drinks as these increase urine output and can put strain on the kidneys over time.

Keep alcohol consumption to sensible levels.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

One of the finest kidney tonics in the herbal world is the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum or Reishi. It helps the kidneys to efficiently neutralise toxins, lowers the amount of protein in the urine, improves blood flow throughout the body, balances adrenal secretions, and enhances the immune system. It can be taken safely for long periods (years even) with no side effects at the correct medicinal dose (1-2g daily for maintenance of good health, up to 4g of powdered mushroom daily during sickness).
Aswagandha root is another gentle yet powerful tonic to the kidneys, mildly diuretic but more importantly protects the kidneys from toxin damage and accumulations. Schisandra berries are another useful herb for general all round kidney health.
Astragalus root and dandelion root and leaves are also fine tonics to the kidneys and urinary system.
Nettle, eldeflower and plantain leaf in tea form will help to flush toxins through the kidneys and encourage the expulsion of environmental toxins such as lead and heavy metals. Drink a cup daily for a mineral and vitamin boost too. Add a touch of buchu leaf to the formula to help expel solids such as uric acid.
Yarrow is an excellent all round tonic herb for the kidneys and urinary system.
Cornsilk tea or tincture is also beneficial to the health and functioning of the kidneys and urinary system.
Rehmannia is a very good all round kidney herb.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Avoid taking conventional painkillers on a regular basis as these can lead to kidney damage. Many prescription and over the counter medicines such as statins, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics cause kidney damage.
Make barley water every few weeks. Use a heaped tablespoon of barley and simmer for 20 minutes with a half pint or so of water. You can add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice before drinking and flavour with cinnamon, ginger and the like. Drink throughout the day to give nutritional support and to the kidneys, to cleanse waste toxins from the system, to strengthen bones and connective tissues and to help prevent infections and congestion in the bladder and kidneys.
Avoid cigarette smoking as this constricts blood flow throughout the body and can lead to kidney problems.

Child watering plants




© the wild pharma 2013 | tel: +044 [0]1435 831 525 | email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Terms of using this website