How to Protect and Improve Kidney Function Naturally
When we think of keeping up on good health, we may think about heart health, managing a healthy weight, or even maintaining a healthy liver; but seldom do we think about kidney function health—at least, many of us may not.
WHY IS KIDNEY FUNCTION IMPORTANT TO OVERALL HEALTH?
For one, the kidneys’ activities help give us energy. The kidneys also produce hormones and nutrients that affect all sorts of bodily balances. Kidneys help regulate the pH in all our organs as well. Still, the most crucial kidney function of all? Detoxifying and removing impurities.
MUSHROOMS AND BOTANICALS THAT MAY SUPPORT KIDNEY HEALTH
If kidney health is a concern, how do we stop it from getting worse?
Of course, keeping health in tip-top shape is a basic and a must.
But what is specifically better for kidney health than any other system or organ health?
For starters, certain lifestyle and diet changes can help, of course. These will help steer a person away from developing kidney-related diseases, which will then need the aid of mainstream medicine.
Before modern medicine, however, we had the properties of certain healing herbs and fungi to protect the kidneys.
Because the liver performs similar functions in the body, many herbs that support liver health also support kidney health. LVR-RENEW contains many of these traditionally used mushrooms and herbs in their most effective form. As a part of a healthy lifestyle, LVR-RENEW can help keep the kidneys in great shape.
There are many different herbs that work together to support the kidneys, so it can be hard to pick just one. LVR-RENEW contains many of the kidney-supporting ingredients below in one convenient supplement.
In addition to the LVR-RENEW, the He Shou Wu Plus also contains several of the ingredients discussed below. Together these 2 formulas make a powerful kidney supporting tonic.
Healers and herbalists from many cultures have known about these for thousands of years. Below are some of the best-researched botanicals for shielding kidney health from any harm. They also help gently aid the body’s natural means of detoxifying and purifying.
DANDELION (TARAXACUM OFFIINALE)
What most of us know as an invasive weed has a reputation as a kidney health booster and remedy.
Dandelion, the ever-present yellow flower in garden and yards, has a diuretic action that encourages the kidneys to work better. It’s also chock-full of antioxidants and nutrients that heal, protect, and improve their function.
A 2013 research piece on dandelion acknowledged it as an alternative treatment for health care providers to support kidney health.
The same research also found that dandelion protected against kidney damage as an antioxidant. It also helped protect the liver.
In a similar 2016 study, dandelion helped protect the kidneys from oxidative damage. It also assisted the organs with functioning properly to clear out common kidney toxins and impurities.
LICORICE (GLYCYRRHIZA GLABRA)
The root of licorice is popular as candy and also as a cold and flu remedy.
Beyond boosting immunity, it’s also a common alternative remedy for protecting against a leaky gut.
At the same time, research shows it may protect both the liver and kidneys and that it aids detoxification.
In one 2014 study, glycyrrhizin—the healing compound in licorice—stopped injury and damage on the kidneys. It also combated inflammation in the organs, helped them function better, and averted kidney failure.
Researchers concluded that this effect was so powerful that it could even be helpful during kidney transplants and surgery.
For kidney disease, the herbal root could be a godsend. For the average person, licorice brings good news as a simple herb that supports kidney health.
MILK THISTLE (SILYBUM MARIANUM)
The seeds from this spiky field plant have long been used by herbalists and are the fascination of many studies.
Most famously, milk thistle has a reputation for liver protection. It’s powerful enough to protect against poisons, chemicals, and aid detoxification in this organ.
It may also have the same potential for kidney protection.
In a 2012 placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized study, milk thistle was more effective than a placebo in helping with kidney damage due to type 2 diabetes.
In a 2016 study (alongside dandelion), a milk thistle extract also helped kidneys. It aided the test subjects’ kidney function and assisted in the detoxifying process.
Silymarin, milk thistle’s active compound produces these effects. The highest concentration of silymarin can be found in its seeds.
Researchers have long known milk thistle’s positive effects on the kidneys. In a study from 1999, milk thistle was found to undo some of the effects of drug toxicity on the kidneys.
Overuse of drugs, pharmaceutical or otherwise, can be a strain on the kidneys and lead to disease. Milk thistle could help mitigate these effects and support the kidneys.
Milk thistle may also help fight cancer in the kidneys. In a 2007 study, the active compounds in milk thistle were found to induce apoptosis, cell death, in cancer cells. Although more research needs to be done, it has exciting implications for cancer.
In addition to fighting cancer, it may help reduce the chances of it as well. A study from 2010 found that silymarin, the active component in milk thistle, suppressed precancerous activity in the kidneys.
PORIA (WOLFIPORIA EXTENSA)
Modern researchers may know little about the interesting mushroom known as poria, or fu-ling-pi.
Yet in Traditional Chinese Medicine, practitioners used poria as a qi tonic for kidneys and the liver for thousands of years. It is still a popular kidney and urinary tract supplement in China.
Poria is a subterranean mushroom that grows quite a bit like a truffle but looks more like chaga. Practitioners prescribed it to patients with kidney problems to increase urination.
Though there aren’t many studies on it and its benefits to the kidneys, more are starting to crop up. Researchers are starting to discover that poria can be helpful to treat and protect the kidneys.
First, a study from 2009 discovered the antioxidant abilities of poria. The researchers on the study found that poria could play a role in treating many different diseases, including those in the kidney.
To get more information, they performed a study in 2013. Researchers wanted to delve into poria’s antioxidant ability and see if it could help the kidneys specifically. In this study, poria was found to be a diuretic and to stimulate urination. It also positively impacted kidney metabolism and function while blocking against kidney damage.
In another study from 2013, researchers found that poria had the ability to fight the oxidative stress associated with chronic kidney disease. The cause of CKD is unknown but a decrease in antioxidant activities may be a factor. Poria could help combat this with its potent blend of free-radical fighting antioxidants.
In addition to chronic kidney disease, poria has been shown to help other kidney conditions as well. One study in 2014 showed that it was effective in improving the kidney condition nephrotic syndrome. A study from 2007 also showed it helped reduce the chances of the most common type of kidney stones.
REISHI (GANODERMA SPP.)
Reishi’s superior antioxidant content in its fruiting body or spores account for its health benefits. These antioxidants fight free radicals, curb inflammation, and thus protect all sorts of organs and tissues.
One of these organs and systems are the kidneys.
In fact, studies on reishi helping the kidneys are very numerous and diverse.
In a 2014 study, compounds extracted from the reishi mushroom reversed kidney damage in subjects with type 2 diabetes. It also supported normal function in the organs.
In another in 2011, reishi helped stop toxins in the kidneys from causing damage as well. Reishi is yet another botanical candidate that could boost kidney health.
A study from 2015 found that reishi’s antioxidant content protects the kidneys from a condition called renal ischemia-reperfusion injury. It is a kidney injury after surgery that often results in chronic kidney disease. Researchers found that reishi was powerful enough to keep kidneys healthy even in surgery.
SCHISANDRA (SCHISANDRA CHINENSIS)
This bright red herbal berry from Asia has quickly climbed the ladder as a world-famous adaptogen. An adaptogen is an antioxidant that helps the body withstand changes due to stress or damage.
Schisandra may be better known for how it strengthens the nervous system to help anxiety, stress, and depression. It’s long been used a catch-all in traditional Asian healing practices to help with all ails as a powerful tonic.
But that’s not all it’s capable of doing.
Research (like this study in 2013) shows schisandra could also bring a halt to kidney damage in certain instances.
In 2012, research showed very similar benefits to using the berry to strengthen kidney health.
In the future, this could make it a helpful therapy for kidney complications, though researchers need to conduct more studies before then.
TURKEY TAIL (CORIOLUS/TRAMETES VERSICOLOR)
A multicolor, beautiful woodland mushroom growing in pretty much everyone’s neck of the woods holds some fascinating health secrets.
Only these days, they’re not such a secret anymore.
Turkey tail’s claim to fame as a medicinal mushroom ride on its immune-boosting and cancer-fighting properties. As an extra, it may lend some of its talents in the fight against kidney problems and disease.
Turkey tail is one of the most-studied restorative mushrooms in the world. There haven’t been too many investigating its ability to improve kidney health, though.
Still, turkey tail is known by research to be high in antioxidants that protect against all sorts of free radical damage, oxidation, and inflammation in organs all over the body.
No doubt, it could protect against inflammation in the kidneys. Kidney inflammation is one of the leading causes of damage and kidney disease in most instances.
However, more studies on turkey tail are needed before solidly linking it up as a kidneys remedy.
HE SHOU WU (Polygonum multiflorum)
In Chinese Traditional Medicine, he shou wu, sometimes referred to as fo-ti or it’s scientific name Polygonum multiflorum, nourishes the kidneys. It has been used for thousands of years whenever practitioners see their patients exhibit signs of a kidney imbalance.
He shou wu was traditionally used as a kidney tonic to balance energy and fight burnout.
Today, few studies directly show the effect of he shou wu on the kidneys. However, studies have shown that he shou wu is chocked full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties support cells in the body, including the kidneys. It’s not much of a stretch, then, to see how these properties could improve kidney health.
One study showed that the anthraquinones and polysaccharides in he shou wu protect the liver. They support the liver by reducing inflammation and increasing antioxidant effects.
Although the research didn’t look at the kidneys specifically, these properties could have the same potential to help the kidneys. Both the liver and kidneys work to filter the blood, so improvement to one often means an improvement to the other.
Research has also supported he shou wu’s ability to provide DNA protection and repair. This ability to support DNA is also helpful for kidney support.
GOJI BERRY (Lycium barbarum)
Goji berry has gained a lot of attention in recent years for its superfood status. The superfood is often given to elders in China because of its reputation as a longevity booster. Today, stores throughout the west sell dried berries because of their ability to strengthen almost all areas of health.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, goji berries are excellent for promoting kidney health. In fact, it’s thought that goji berries make a superb kidney stone remedy. Goji berries help to flush waste from the body, which eases the burden off of the kidneys.
It wasn’t until very recently that researchers thought to see if goji berries could strengthen the kidneys. It’s not surprising, considering its reputation to aid all areas of health, that it was found to be helpful.
One 2019 study found that goji berries helped in the management of glomerulonephritis. Glomerulonephritis is a significant cause of chronic disease.
Another recent study found that goji could reduce inflammation and activate the antioxidant response in rats with septic kidney injury.
A third study in 2019 of diet-induced kidney injury also benefitted from goji berry. It produced an anti-inflammatory response and improved their damage.
Although these recent studies are only in animals, they have exciting implications for kidney health. The recent discovery of goji berry for kidneys point to its long history of promoting longevity throughout the body.
SIBERIAN ELEUTHERO (Acanthopanax/Eleutherococcus spp.)
Also referred to as Siberian ginseng, eleuthero is very different from the American and Asian ginseng varieties. It thrives in cold, harsh environments and practitioners have used it for over 2,000 years.
Eleuthero works to strengthen the kidneys through its role as an adaptogen. Rather than bring the body up or down, like caffeine and alcohol, respectively, adaptogens put the body in balance.
Adaptogens, such as eleuthero, help the body adapt to stress. Chronic stress is a key factor in many chronic diseases, including those involving the kidneys. That might explain why traditional practitioners have long used eleuthero to treat kidney disease.
Hopefully, soon there will be research on eleuthero’s role on the kidneys. Until then you can use it now to help reduce the chances of stress-related diseases.
LIFESTYLE, HABIT, AND DIET CHANGES FOR KIDNEY HEALTH
Without a basis of healthy habits and wellness approaches in one’s life, the above herbs will likely do little. At best, they will be mostly ineffective.
If improving kidney health is on one’s list for better overall wellness, make sure to include diet and lifestyle changes too.
Eat a healthy diet. Many kidney-related issues stem from other food- and lifestyle-related conditions. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are all known to proceed to kidney problems.
Stay hydrated. Your kidney is regularly creating urine, so plenty of water will help keep your kidneys happy and healthy.
Avoid taking too many NSAIDs. The kidneys are responsible for filtering drugs and toxins out of the body. Although it can filter out a certain amount without any issue, taking too many NSAIDs are taxing on the kidneys.
If you suffer from chronic pain or another issue that causes you to take NSAIDs regularly, it might be time to find an alternative pain management system.
Quit smoking. Smoking damages every part of your body, kidneys included. It damages blood vessels, which restricts blood to the kidneys. In addition, smoking introduces many toxins to the body which the kidneys must filter. Smoking equals bad kidney health all around, so quit it.
Exercise. Exercise can lower blood pressure and keep off excess pounds. The improved blood pressure means better blood flow to kidneys. A healthy weight is also great for kidney health.
Doctors will also recommend regular blood tests and checkups to get a better idea of the state of kidney health.
FIND THESE KIDNEY-SUPPORT NATURAL INGREDIENTS IN OUR FORMULAs
Many herbs widely known for being liver protective are also effective at supporting kidney health.
That’s why many of the herbs in this article can be found in our LVR-RENEW and He Shou Wu Plus supplement blends. They were formulated for overall detoxification support—by enhancing both liver and kidney function, no matter how they are mixed.
- Turkey Tail Mushroom Extract (30% polysaccharides)
- Cracked Reishi Shell Spores (Ganoderma lucidum)
- Milk Thistle Extract (Contains 80% silymarin)
- Poria Extract (30% polysaccharides)
- Schisandra Berry Extract (20:1)
- Dandelion Root
- Licorice Root Extract (Standardized 20%)
- Black Pepper Fruit Extract (Contains 10% piperine to enhance bioavailability of other ingredients)
He Shou Wu Plus contains:
- He Shou Wu
- Cracked Reishi Shell Spores (Ganoderma lucidum)
- Goji Berry
- Siberian Eleuthero
- Monk Fruit (to help round out the taste)
- Black Pepper Fruit Extract (Contains 10% piperine to enhance bioavailability of other ingredients)
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