When it comes to kidney health, herbs have been employed for centuries due to their medicinal properties. However, it is crucial to recognize that herbs can be a double-edged sword in this regard. While certain herbs can support kidney health, others may pose risks to the kidneys. In this blog post, we will explore the uses of herbs for kidney health, shedding light on their positive and negative impacts. By understanding this delicate balance, we can make informed choices regarding herbal remedies for kidney health.


herbs for kidney health


By Majd Isreb, MD, FACP, FASN, IFMCP

Positive effects of herbs for kidney health

Dandelion root: A diuretic and antioxidant boost

Dandelion root, known for its diuretic properties, aids in the elimination of excess fluid from the body. This quality proves particularly advantageous for individuals with kidney disease, as it eases the burden on the kidneys. Furthermore, the dandelion root contains antioxidants, which shield the kidneys from free radicals that can cause damage.


Nettle leaf: Combating inflammation and fluid retention

Stinging nettle leaf, another herb celebrated for its diuretic attributes, reduces inflammation, benefiting individuals with kidney disease. Inflammation can contribute to kidney damage, making nettle leaf an excellent addition to kidney-healthy herbal regimens. Stinging nettle leaves can also be used to prevent kidney stones.


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Astragalus: Renal blood flow and proteinuria improvement

Astragalus has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine for kidney health. Studies suggest that it may improve renal blood flow, reduce proteinuria (excess protein in the urine), and potentially benefit individuals with hypertensive kidney disease. However, there is a single report that showed that Astragalus membranaceus can cause increased CA19-9 and liver and kidney cysts.


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Dan Shen: Support for IgA nephropathy and renal fibrosis

Dan Shen, also known as Salvia miltiorrhiza, has shown promise in managing IgA nephropathy and Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP). It has been found to decrease renal fibrosis, a common complication of kidney diseases, which can help preserve kidney function.


Cordyceps Militaris: Anti-inflammatory effects and protection from toxic drugs

Cordyceps Militaris, a fungus with potential medicinal properties, has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in chronic kidney disease (CKD). It may also provide protection from the toxic effects of certain drugs on the kidneys and has shown promise as an adjunct therapy for managing diabetic kidney disease.

Rehmannia: Support for various kidney conditions

Rehmannia, commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine, has been found to be beneficial for chronic glomerulonephritis, lupus nephritis, diabetic kidney disease, and inflammation. It exhibits potential in managing these conditions and supporting overall kidney health.


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Negative Effects of Herbs on Kidney Health

While the benefits of herbs for kidney health are noteworthy, it is important to acknowledge the potential risks associated with certain herbs. It is advisable to exercise caution when considering the following:

Ephedra: Beware of high doses

While herbs can be beneficial, certain ones can also harm the kidneys. Ephedra, commonly used as a stimulant and weight loss aid, can result in kidney damage, particularly when consumed in high doses or for prolonged periods. It has also been associated with forming kidney stones.


Licorice Root: A cautionary tale of blood pressure regulation

Licorice root contains glycyrrhizin, a compound that can induce pseudohyperaldosteronism. This condition elevates blood pressure and leads to low potassium levels in the blood. It can potentially damage the kidneys, necessitating caution in its usage. There are deglycyrrhizinated licorice products available that don’t have these side effects.

Safe Use of Herbs for Kidney Health

While the benefits of herbs for kidney health are promising, it is crucial to consult healthcare professionals before incorporating them into one’s routine. These experts can offer personalized guidance regarding the safe usage of herbs and identify potential interactions or risks.

The bottom line

Herbs can play a dual role in kidney health. While some herbs offer support and protection to the kidneys, others can be detrimental. Understanding this delicate balance is vital when considering herbal remedies for kidney health. Consulting healthcare professionals, using herbs in moderation, and incorporating them as part of a comprehensive approach to kidney health are key factors to remember. By doing so, individuals can harness the potential benefits of herbs while safeguarding their precious kidney health.