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Kidney Disease: guarding against the silent killer

~ by Dr. Scott Olson, ND and Jo Jordan

A dramatic rise in chronic cases of kidney disease over the last five years has the medical community concerned. Did you know that...

  • Kidney disease is 1 of the top 10 causes of death in the United States
  • Kidney disease afflicts a staggering 13 percent of Americans.1
  • Only 1 in 10 people with kidney disease know they have it – kidney failure isn’t even noticeable until the organs have lost 75 percent, or more, of their function.
  • Approximately 39 million Americans have kidney disease, but nearly 35 million of them don’t even realize they have it!

So what do the kidneys do?

Thanks to Hollywood – creators of heart wrenching movies where the altruistic donate vital organs to dying loved ones – most of us know that we have two kidneys. In addition, our kidneys...

  • Keep us safe from the harmful effects of internal (and external) toxins by filtering blood of the natural by-products of metabolism, drugs, and other toxins;
  • Keep the blood balanced so that it is not too acidic or too basic;
  • Balance water and electrolyte concentrations (minerals such as potassium, magnesium, sodium, and others), and control the amount of blood volume;
  • Are one of the main controllers of blood pressure;
  • Produce the hormone renin, which is responsible for helping to maintain proper blood pressure;
  • Produce the hormone erythropoietin, which is responsible for creating new red blood cells; and
  • Partly manage bone health – vitamin D is changed from the inactive to active form within the kidneys, and is then able to signal the intestines to absorb more calcium, ensuring the availability of adequate amounts of bone-building calcium.

Who is at risk for kidney problems?

Kidney function gets slower as we age, so the short answer is everyone. But the dramatic rise in the number of people with kidney disease is predominantly attributable to two specific diseases.

High blood pressure and diabetes are very harmful to the kidney. High blood pressure directly harms the kidneys by burdening the organ with increased blood pressure.

For those with diabetes, the small blood vessels in the kidneys are injured by high blood sugar. The number of people with diabetes who will end up with kidney problems is high – approximately thirty to forty percent will eventually experience kidney failure.

Pharmaceutical drugs, poisons, pesticides, street drugs, and many other chemicals in our environment wreak havoc on the kidneys. The most common medications that are damaging to the kidneys are over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.

When the kidneys are damaged, their filtering effects stop functioning. This means that wastes and toxins begin to build up in the blood. You cannot live long without the detoxifying efforts of the kidneys. When kidneys fail, the only choices are dialysis (artificial filtration) or kidney transplantation.

Being kind to your kidneys

According to Scott Olson, ND and author of Sugarettes, there are various herbs that can help cleanse the kidneys.

Healing Herbs

Your kidneys don’t have to go it alone. There are many natural herbs and vitamins that can work to help your kidneys negotiate our toxic world. Below are some examples.

  • Tumeric – A root that many of us know as a spice used in cooking, research on this powerful herb has blossomed in the last few years, and it has been discovered that tumeric aids the liver, helps ease the symptoms of arthritis and heart disease, and prevents and treats certain cancers. Tumeric also protects the kidneys from being damaged by drugs and other chemicals.2

  • Ginger – This herb is well known for calming the stomach, and being good for the heart. Ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory, and it protects the kidneys from damage by a variety of drugs and chemicals.3

  • Garlic –The number of studies demonstrating the way in which garlic is a boon to health could fill a small room. While most beneficial for the heart, garlic is also great for the digestive system. It is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Garlic aids the kidneys by protecting them from damage at the hands of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, and it helps reduce kidney-damaging high blood pressure.4,5

  • Aloe – This herb is great for both digestive problems, and for offering the kidneys protection from the damage normally caused by diabetes.6

  • Milk Thistle – There is likely no better herb for the liver than milk thistle. And current research is beginning to illustrate how milk thistle helps the kidneys function better,7 and protects them from the damaging effects of a wide variety of insults.

  • Glutathione – If you want your kidneys to last a long time, make sure that you have enough glutathione in your body. Glutathione is the all body super-antioxidant. It can be supplemented directly, or can be recharged in the body by taking enough vitamin C. Glutathione helps the kidneys detoxify many chemicals, and may even help to reverse chronic kidney disease.8,9

  • Methionine – The kidneys can be damaged by oxidants; the solution to this problem is to ensure there are enough antioxidants in the blood by supplementing with methionine, which also helps to lessen the effects of the overburdening of toxins on the kidney.10

Detoxifying your kidneys

Now that you know how important your kidneys are, you may want to take the time to better care for them. The surest way to help cleanse your kidneys besides diet is to focus on regular cleansing of both your liver and colon, in order to ease the kidney's job of filtering toxins from the blood.

Since kidney disease is mostly silent, it’s advisable to undergo kidney detoxification several times each year, in addition to performing regular colon and kidney cleansings.

Kidneys for life

Taking care of your kidneys means that you are taking care of your whole body. Our kidneys keep most of us toxin-free without us ever knowing they’re there. While their silent nature is good for us, it makes it difficult to know when they’re not working well.

In order to ensure that your kidneys last as long as you do, make sure you’re getting proper nutrition, taking a multi-vitamin, cleansing your colon, and detoxifying. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, it is vital to take extra special care of your kidneys to avoid increased risks for developing kidney disease.

It really doesn’t take much effort to make sure that your kidneys are happy and healthy throughout your whole life.

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1. Coresh J, Selvin E, et al. Prevalence of chronic kidney disease in the United States. JAMA. 2007 Nov 7;298(17):2038-47.
2. Venkatesan N, Punithavathi D, Arumugam V. Curcumin prevents adriamycin nephrotoxicity in rats. Br J Pharmacol. 2000 Jan;129(2):231-4.
3. Ajith TA, Nivitha V, Usha S. Zingiber officinale Roscoe alone and in combination with alpha-tocopherol protect the kidney against cisplatin-induced acute renal failure. Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Jun;45(6):921-7.
4. Sener G, Sakarcan A, Yegen BC. Role of garlic in the prevention of ischemia-reperfusion injury. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Nov;51(11):1345-52.
5. Massadeh AM, Al-Safi SA, et al. Garlic (Allium sativum L.) as a Potential Antidote for Cadmium and Lead Intoxication: Cadmium and Lead Distribution and Analysis in Different Mice Organs. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2007 Dec;120(1-3):227-34.
6. Bolkent S, Akev N, et al. Effect of Aloe vera (L.) Burm. fil. leaf gel and pulp extracts on kidney in type-II diabetic rat models. Indian J Exp Biol. 2004 Jan;42(1):48-52.
7. Sonnenbichler J, Scalera F, et al. Stimulatory effects of silibinin and silicristin from the milk thistle Silybum marianum on kidney cells. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1999 Sep;290(3):1375-83.
8. Santangelo F, Witko-Sarsat V, et al. Restoring glutathione as a therapeutic strategy in chronic kidney disease. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2004 Aug;19(8):1951-5.
9. Sai K, Umemura T, et al. The protective role of glutathione, cysteine and vitamin C against oxidative DNA damage induced in rat kidney by potassium bromate. Jpn J Cancer Res. 1992 Jan;83(1):45-51.
10. Patra RC, Swarup D, Dwivedi SK. Antioxidant effects of alpha tocopherol, ascorbic acid and L-methionine on lead induced oxidative stress to the liver, kidney and brain in rats. Toxicology. 2001 May 11;162(2):81-8.

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