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Kidney Support & Kidney Stones
The kidneys are major organs of detoxification and healthy functioning kidneys are essential for life. On a constant basis your kidneys filter your blood, and through this filtering process they remove excess acids and waste from your blood. These are moved to the bladder in urine for safe removal. In addition, your kidneys produce hormones, one which plays a part in the maintenance of healthy blood pressure, another which stimulates the bone marrow to produce new cells and a third hormone that maintains healthy calcium levels in blood and bone tissue. Your kidneys are the major water balancers of the body, able to adapt to different levels of fluid intake and adapt water levels to minimise any risk of dehydration. So you can see why natural healers pay such attention to maintaining healthy kidneys. Kidney disease is on the increase: here we give an overview of this complex condition but then focus our attention on ways of staying well and avoiding this insidious condition.
Kidneys fail for several reasons. Poisoning and shock (such as trauma from injury, blood loss or major burns) are acute episodes and prompt treatment in these crisis situations often prevents permanent damage. More commonly, both kidneys fail silently and over time. Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two main causes of chronic kidney failure. Infection and autoimmune diseases are less common causes, and there is a family genetic risk as well that is as yet poorly understood. Some over-the-counter and prescribed medications cause kidney damage and the culprit is often over-use of painkillers such as Ibuprofen. Always discuss your pain killing medication with your doctor or pharmacist if you need pain control for more than 2 weeks. Finally, kidneys stones can cause damage to the affected kidney.
Early stage kidney disease is not evident thus organ damage is advanced before symptoms develop. These include:
- A change in urination patterns – either a stronger need to pee or a reduced need.
- Drowsiness and concentration problems.
- Loss of appetite and possible nausea with or without vomiting.
- Swelling of both hands and feet.
- Muscle cramps that may be severe.
- Darker skin.
Kidney disease is managed conservatively but there is inevitable decline leading to kidney failure, need for dialysis and possibly kidney transplant. Other complications include heart disease and stroke, osteoporosis and anaemia.
Diet is an important management strategy to delay deterioration. Work with a dietician to restrict and severely limit certain foods. Damaged kidneys cannot retain their ability to manage protein and cholesterol blood levels. Some level of animal protein and fat restriction is always required and will help to reduce the risk of stroke. Highly processed smoked and salty foods are avoided altogether so that water balance is easier to maintain. The heart is at risk because the kidneys cannot remove potassium effectively and this can affect the rhythm of the heart. Common fruits and vegetables contain decent levels of potassium so some may need to be restricted, such as oranges, potatoes, bananas, dried fruits, dried beans and peas, and nuts. Smoking increases the stroke risk sharply and anaemia must also be managed because the kidneys no longer stimulate the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells. Osteoporosis risk is also increased due to calcium imbalance.
Food & herbs for the home
- Maintaining the correct alkalinity levels of the blood is a function of healthy kidneys so it makes sense to avoid highly acid-forming foods and drinks. Principal culprits are sugar and soda. Avoid all sweet and fizzy drinks. Minimise your intake of tea and coffee and alcohol and learn from Mediterranean populations who traditionally follow these drinks with a glass of water to flush through the acids.
- Maximise your fluid intake with good quality filtered drinking water to which you add a slice of lemon (highly alkaline on the blood).
- Increase lemon intake by using the fruit on salad dressings and vegetables.
- Lemon barley water is immensely supportive and nurturing to the kidneys and can be drunk warm, especially at the first sign of a chill to the kidneys. Use whole grain Pot Barley and add lemons and the other ingredients that you will find in the recipe provided on the Pot Barley page.
- Parsley is another wonderful kidney herb and makes a pleasant fresh herb tea. Even better, it makes the most beautiful pesto sauce for adding to your food and because it is much easier and cheaper to grow than basil and has a long growing season, you can make great use of this potent detoxifying herb.
- Drink Parsley & Cornsilk Herbal Tea to deeply nourish your kidneys and alkalise the urine.
- Reduce animal fats as far as possible.
- Foods rich in natural silicon will help maintain a stone-free urinary system. Silicon is found in the skins of organically grown grains, fruits and vegetables, particularly oats, radishes, onions and garlic, and also in unpolluted seaweeds and in bee pollen.
- Foods rich in beta carotene (which is converted to vitamin A in the body) can also help, such as melon, pumpkin, yams and carrots. Superfood Plus also provides a lot of this.
- Dandelion is another herb famed for its effects on the kidneys and you can use the leaves as a salad green for many months of the year.
- Nettle Herb Tea is also high in supportive nutrients.
- We strongly support the benefit of regular periods of kidney detoxification and traditional times to do this are during the warmer months of summer. A kidney detox can be as short and gentle as 1-3 days. In her free download book “Herbs, Natural Healing and Nutrition” Jill Davies discusses short cleanses. She also expands upon the herbs that are traditionally associated with kidney support.
- Read more in a free download from Dr Richard Schulze called "5-Day Kidney Detox".
- If stones or grit have developed and there is pain then a castor oil pack over the kidneys (or relevant area) will greatly reduce the pain. This may provide immense benefit if other intervention is not easily available. Full instructions are included with the kit.
- Similarly a soothing bath with Lavender Essential Oil and Ginger Essential Oil can help – the oils can have anti-spasmodic qualities when they penetrate the skin.
- If kidney stones are a problem and you wish to work naturally to reduce or remove them, then we strongly recommend that you only work with the assistance of an experienced and qualified natural healer. You can find one by linking to The Association of Master Herbalists.
Additional help is available by phoning the free product advice line at Herbs Hands Healing between the hours of 9.00am to 1.00pm. Tel: 01379 608201.
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Learn more about Dr. Richard Schulze’s Superfood Plus and why we believe this is such a wonderful food by following this link on our website, where extensive information is available. Also please visit our Superfood Plus facebook page for articles and current news.
To learn more about natural healing for this and other ailments, visit Dr Schulze's blog.
If you would like to see videos of Jill Davies showing you plants growing in their natural settings and discussing their medicinal attributes then visit us on facebook. You can also explore additional herbs and their traditional uses by linking to Herbs Info & Photo Gallery and Herb Profiles. Useful additional information can also be found at the Herbs Hands Healing information pages on Detox & Cleansing and Natural Healing.