Top Herbs for Kidney Health

by Jane Barthelemy, CBP, CRM, DRM, MBA, Author.
Your kidneys are a remarkable organ, and deserve loving care. Kidneys have many essential functions in the body, including filtering the blood, controlling metabolism, water balance, producing bone marrow, ruling sexuality and libido. The kidneys are intimately linked to the brain, nervous system, hearing, and the ears. Thick beautiful hair and graying of hair are ruled by the kidneys. The adrenals are part of the kidney system, providing high energy when needed, however they often get overworked and tired. In Chinese medicine, the Kidneys provide Qi or life energy to all the other organs. Do you think your kidneys requires gentle support and periodic cleansing. Yesss!

Let’s take a look at the major herbs for kidney support and how to use them. Kidney teas and formulas abound, however it is important to ask – what do you need to accomplish? The kidney has many complex functions. Do you wish to treat chronic fatigue, adrenal exhaustion, depression, kidney stones, toxic accumulation, urinary infection, nervous disorders, low libido, dizziness, cold extremities, poor memory, or water retention?

Your personal needs are unique. Specific kidney issues will require the guidance of an experienced herbalist. Some of these herbs can be beneficial and delicious for everyday kidney support. However others will harm your system, especially taken for extended periods. Most of the bulk herbs below can be purchased from a reliable herbalist, or online from iherb.com or Mountain Rose Herbs. These 3 combination products below are good for general kidney support, however not for long periods of time: 

  1. Kidney/Bladder Dissolve Tea, by Life Tree Wellness: http://www.lifetreewellness.com/healing-herbal–detox-teas.html Ingredients: Carrot Tops, Corn Silk, Dandelion leaf, Goldenrod, Gravel root, Horsetail, Hydrangea root, Juniper Berries, Marshmallow, Orange Peel, Parsley root or leaf, Peppermint leaf, Uva Ursi.
  2. Kidney Flush Tea, by A Choice For Life: https://achoice4life.com/product/clean-kidney-tea-flush/ Ingredients: dandelion root, licorice root, red clover tops, hydrangea root, marshmallow root, queen of the meadow root & uva ursi leaf.
  3. Kidney Support Supplement Capsules, by Starwest-botanicals.com. Ingredients: Organic Juniper Berries, Organic Parsley Root, Organic Marshmallow Root, Organic Goldenseal Root, Organic Uva Ursi Root, Organic Ginger Root. Not to be used over 6 weeks.

Traditional Kidney Herbs:

BLACK CHERRY CONCENTRATE, CORNELIAN CHERRY, CORNUS OFFICINALIS
Traditionally, cornelian cherry nourishes and stabilizes the Kidney system to address many symptoms such as overwork, exhaustion, aging, weakness, fatigue, impotence, infertility, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, dizziness, light-headedness, lower back soreness and weakness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, and incontinence. Animal studies of cornelian cherry show significant effects on cellular energy production, blood sugar regulation and weight management. 

CELERY ROOT – APIUM GRAVEOLENS VAR. RAPACEUM
Both the root and seeds of celery have been used for centuries as a natural diuretic. This helps the body eliminate toxins by increasing urine output. Celery root is considered a stimulating tonic for the kidneys, as it contains potassium and sodium. Also known as celeriac, this root can neutralize the pH balance in the body and as a powerful diuretic, can stimulate the kidneys to flush excess organisms. Medical studies indicate celery root can cure some forms of kidney disease. It is a good source of potassium for patients with kidney dysfunction.

 CHANCA PIEDRA – PHYLLANTHUS NIRURI, BREAKSTONE, BHUMYAMALAKI
Chanca Piedra, grown in the rainforest, has been used by Peruvian herbalist as a treatment for gallstones and kidney stones, urinary infections, hepatitis B, A, C, and antiviral applications for generations. Chanca means Break in Quechua. Piedra is Stone in Spanish. Chanca Piedra, also called Breakstone Tea dissolves kidney stones like no other medication.

DANDELION ROOT -TARAXACUM OFFICINALE
Dandelion root is a known diuretic, removing excess water in the tissues. By increasing urination dandelion helps to cleanse the kidneys and bladder. Dandelion is a diuretic, stomachic, mild laxative, cholagogue (purges bile downward) and choleretic (increases secretion of bile). Dandelion may be helpful for treating kidney failure. Before taking dandelion for kidney failure, talk with your doctor about side effects, dosage and drug interactions. Make dandelion root tea by boiling 1 to 2 tsp. of organic roasted dandelion root in 8 ounces of pure water.

 GINGER – ZINGIBER OFFICINALE
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants that help break down toxins in the body and keep the kidneys running smoothly. Ginger can strengthen Kidney Yang. Ginger root and turmeric tea can be made by boiling a few dashes of turmeric powder with peeled ginger root. If consumed after lunch and dinner, the tea not only flushes toxins from the kidneys but also helps with digestion.

GOLDENROD – SOLIDAGO VIRGAUREA
Goldenrod is considered a soothing tonic for the urinary system. It increases kidney function, is a diuretic, mild anti-inflammatory & antispasmodic. Induces sweating when taken in hot water. Goldenrod is often used for inflammation or infection of the genito-urinary tract, kidney pain, edema, allergies, kidney congestion, for difficult or scanty urination, backache associated with the kidneys, urinary stones, and bladder sores. Goldenrod can be used as mild remedy with chronic toxicity, with caution in deficiency cold conditions.  Also used for sores of the mouth, throat, or genitals in both sexes. The decoction also helps to fasten the teeth that are loose in the gums. 30-40 drops 2 to 5 times per day of fresh tincture. Make a tea by adding the suggested amount of dried herb to 3 cups hot water. Let steep covered for 10 minutes, and drink one-half to 1 cup three to five times daily.

GRAVEL ROOT – EUPATORIUM PURPUREUM
Gravel Root is used primarily for kidney stones. It breaks down the stones and makes them easier to pass (1 tablespoon). Also used in urinary infections. For kidney stones it combines well with Chanca Piedra, Parsley, and Hydrangea.Preparations & Dosage: Put l teaspoonful of the herb in a cup of water, bring to the boil and simmer for l0 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day. Tincture: take l-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.

HORSETAIL – EQUISETUM
Horsetail is a common weed with diuretic properties. It can increase urine output to flush the kidneys and urinary tract. Commonly used for edema, kidney and bladder stones, urinary tract infections, incontinence, and general disturbances of the kidney and bladder. Horsetail contains silicon, a mineral that assists calcium with bone growth and increases collagen, the protein component of bones. Warning: Do not use horsetail if you have kidney stones or congestive heart failure or if you take an ACE inhibitor for high blood pressure.

HYDRANGEA ROOT – DICHROA FEBRIFUGA
Hydrangea root acts as a solvent to normalize water-salt metabolism in the body, help break down stones in kidney and gallbladder, promote salt excretion from the body, and has diuretic properties. Hydrangea and lemon water help to dissolve the rough edges from stones when they are being passed. However it is a powerful herb, can be toxic and is effective to induce vomiting. Hence, dosage should be strictly controlled.

JUNIPER BERRY– JUNIPERUS COMMUNIS
Ancient Chinese, American Indians, and Europeans highly regarded Juniper as a diuretic and blood purifying kidney tonic. 17th century physician Culpeper wrote “Juniper provokes urine exceedingly, it is so powerful remedy against the dropsy (edema) that it cures the disease.”

LICORICE ROOT – GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA
Licorice root is an important herb in Chinese medicine, primarily as a demulcent internal protection for inflammation, an expectorant that helps expel mucus from lungs and throat, and to moisten the tissues, to remove dryness An adaptogen, it can be used to relieve chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. In cases of adrenal exhaustion, when the body is no longer making sufficient cortisol, licorice can help boost the level of corticoids in your system. Licorice is indicated for a large number of health issues including asthma, bronchitis, hives, indigestion and heartburn, stomach ulcers, herpes, genital warts, lyme disease and chronic fatigue. Licorice and other roots are more solid and tougher than delicate herb leaves. For this reason it is important to boil the roots in water for at least 2-3 minutes to release their healing properties. Bulk licorice is far superior to tea bags, as you’ll receive more benefit directly from the root. Warning: Too much licorice can cause serious hyperaldosteremia, where one retains too much sodium and loses potassium, causing high blood pressure and/or hypertension.

 MARSHMALLOW ROOT – ALTHAEA OFFICINALIS
Marshmallow root is a demulcent, hence it relieves inflammation and helps soothe mucous membranes to ease passage of kidney stones. One of best herbs to use for kidney problems, it is soothing and healing to inflamed tissue. Up to a quart of marshmallow tea can be taken per day. Herbalists have reported improvement in symptoms of a variety of kidney problems with this herb used in this way. Combined with Uva Ursi, it can help heal urinary tract infections.

Prepare tea by brewing 1 tablespoon of each of the herbs in 1 cup of boiling water for several minutes. Try this at the first sign of an infection, but if symptoms are severe, fever is present, or symptoms are not improving within 1 or 2 days, it is best so seek professional help. Drink this combination 4 times a day for 5 days to completely clear the infection. Limit use of Uva Ursi as chronic use can cause liver dysfunction. Drink copious amounts of water, especially with lemon added, to flush the urinary tract, and is also recommended during a UTI.

PARSLEY – PETROSELINUM CRISPUM
Parsley is a diuretic to help release water from the body. It cleanses the kidney, can be used for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, gastrointestinal disorders, constipation, jaundice, flatulence, indigestion, colic, diabetes, cough, asthma, edema, osteoarthritis, anemia, high blood pressure, prostate and spleen conditions. It is also used to start menstrual flow, to cause an abortion, aphrodisiac, and breath freshener.

UVA URSI – ARCTOSTAPHYLOS UVA URSI – BEARBERRY
The primary function of Uva Ursi is to clear damp-heat and reduce infection. Uva Ursi is especially effective to alleviate acute urinary tract infections, internal urethritis, cystitis, pyelitis, and glomerulonephritis. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, these ailments fall under Bladder and Kidney damp-heat. To prepare an infusion of Uva Ursi leaf, use 4 to 8 grams of Uva Ursi and filtered water, typically 1 tablespoon of the herb for 1 cup of water. Place the herbs in a Mason jar and cover with just-boiling filtered water. Put the lid on the jar and let the herbs infuse for twenty minutes. This can be taken for internal healing as well. Drink one cup unsweetened on an empty stomach, half an hour before eating. Dose three times a day. Warning, NOT to be taken by children, or those with kidney disease. High doses cause nausea and can actually inflame the lining of the bladder and urinary tract. Overuse can cause symptoms of poisoning. Long-term use can cause liver damage, especially in children.