Rehmannia (Rehmannia glutinosa)
Rehmannia is an important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, believed to nourish the yin of the heart and kidney. It is known to be important to kidney qi (the energy of the kidney) and has been used in cases of yin deficiency associated with ageing. Rehmannia is an excellent herb for tonifying the kidneys, in addition, it has anti-inflammatory and blood cleansing properties. Rehmannia helps to support adrenal function (adrenal glands are located directly above the kidneys), helping your body to deal with stress.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
Pharmacological studies of astragalus have shown antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects, which could be effective in chronic kidney disease. In fact, this is one of the most prescribed herbs for chronic kidney disease. Astragalus demonstrated kidney-protecting effects in animal models by reducing proteinuria, and by protecting the microstructure of the kidney architecture.
Golden Rod (Solidago virgaurea)
In the European tradition of Western Herbal Medicine, Golden rod has stood out as an excellent kidney tonic. A kidney tonic includes herbs that have a toning affect on the organ, thereby strengthening their function. It can also have a protecting effect on the kidneys during diseases such as glomerulonephritis. Kidney tonics are well paired with herbal diuretics.
Herbal Diuretics Traditionally Used in Herbal Medicine
- Eupatorium purpureum (Gravel Root)
- Elymus repens (Couch Grass)
- Eryngium maritimum (Sea Holly)
- Zea mays (Corn Silk)
- Aphanes arvensis (Parsley Piert)
- Daucus carota (Wild Carrot)
- Parietaria diffusa (Pellitory)
- Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion)
- Apium graveolens (Celery)
When blood flow to the kidneys is suboptimal, they respond by retaining water. If you are bloated due to water retention, using herbal diuretics can be useful in helping to clear the water retention.
Uses for Herbal Diuretics
- Dysuria (painful or difficult urination) and oliguria (decreased urine production) linked to urinary infections or stones (however, simply increasing your intake of fluid can achieve a similar flushing effect)
- Nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting) and other functional disturbances in urination
- Urinary stones
**It is important to note that diuretics should not be used in renal failure or people with diabetes.
Treatment with alpha lipoic acid (ALA) improved kidney metabolic regulation and antioxidant capacity in a rodent model. ALA also showed a slowing of kidney damage in a small clinical trial of patients with diabetes.
Although there are very few cases reported where toxicity to the kidney occurs in relation to herbal therapeutics, a general caution is advisable where the kidneys are already damaged. Visit your local health care practitioner, herbalist, or naturopath if a more serious condition is suspected.
- Li S, Zhang Y. Characterization and renal protective effect of a polysaccharide from Astragalus membranaceus. Carbo Polymers 78.2 (2009): 343–348.
- Li X, Wang H. Chinese Herbal Medicine in the Treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease. Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease 12 (3) (2005): 276–81.
- Morcos M et al. Effect of α-lipoic acid on the progression of endothelial cell damage and albuminuria in patients with diabetes mellitus: an exploratory study. Diabetic Research and Clinical Practice. 52.3 (2001): 175–183.
- Yi X et al. Reduced expression of α-lipoic acid synthase accelerates diabetic nephropathy. J AM Soc Nephrol 23.1 (2012a): 103–111.
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Written by Tanya Lim
Medical Herbalist & Nutritionist