Thursday, January 11, 2007

Herbal Supplements and Chronic Kidney Disease--What You MUST Know

By Lisa Barger

If you're struggling with chronic kidney disease, or CKD, you've probably considered trying alternative treatments like herbal supplements to help you deal with this serious medical condition. But before you begin an herbal regimen there are a few things you should know.

As a CKD patient, you may be less able to tolerate herbal supplements than a person with healthy kidneys would be. Many of the most common "diuretic" herbs may cause irritation or even permanent damage to your already fragile organs. And even if your doctor gives you a green light to pursue herbal remedies, it's important to remember that many herbal supplements aren't tested for purity, safety or efficacy.

It's a good idea to discuss with your doctor any herbal supplements you're taking or thinking about starting but a few are considered especially dangerous for CKD patients. Using information from the Council on Renal Nutrition, the National Kidney Foundation recommends that you take extra care before using these herbs:

  • Artemisia
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Black Pearl
  • Chapparal
  • Comfrey
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Lobelia
  • Mandrake
  • Pennyroyal
  • Periwinkle
  • Pokeroot
  • Sassafras
  • Senna
  • Vandelia
  • Yohimbe

This is by no means a complete list. And don't forget that some of the most popular herbal supplements are known to interact with the medications you may already be taking. Blue cohosh, St. Johns wort, ginko and echinacea are only a few herbs known to interact with a number of prescription medications. If you're a transplant patient you should be especially careful because an interaction with your anti-rejection medications could potentially put you at risk for rejection of your new kidney.Remember, only your doctor is qualified to give you advice about herbal supplements. Ask him for more information.

Lisa Barger is a traditional naturopath specializing in natural health education. To learn more about Ms. Barger's belief in "Empowerment through Education" or to take a free online natural health class see her website,


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