Herbs for the Urinary System: A Primary Channel of Detoxification

 We all know that cleansing is important, but most of the time we focus our cleansing efforts on the colon. We’ve probably all heard sayings like, “Death begins in the colon,” which reinforce the idea that keeping our bowels moving is primary.

While I agree that maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract is important to health, my own experience with using muscle testing to determine primary weaknesses in the body has revealed that the kidneys show up as a primary weakness far more often than the colon.

In fact, the colon almost always shows up as a secondary health problem being caused by weakness in the stomach and liver. The organs that test as being primary (or originating) causes of people's health problems tend to be (in order of importance) the stomach, the liver, the kidneys and the glands (thyroid and adrenals). So, the kidneys rank number three in my experience as being a primary source of people's health problems.

It makes sense when you think of it this way—your colon can stop working for days and you’ll still live and even be reasonably healthy. If your kidneys shut down completely for twenty-four hours, however, you’re dead. So, to use the childhood reference to bathroom functions as going “number one” or going “number two,” when it comes to health, number one really is number one.

Like every other organ in the body, there are a variety of imbalances that can take place in the urinary system. There are also a variety of herbal remedies that can correct these imbalances. It isn’t just a matter of guessing which kidney remedy a person needs; it’s a matter of understanding the basic imbalances and selecting the right kind of remedy to correct it.

In this article, I’d like to introduce you to some major categories of kidney herbs and their specific uses. The goal is to help you select appropriate herbs for the various forms of kidney malfunction you might encounter. This article has mulitple pages, so be sure to move to the next page when you finish this one.

Kidney Stimulants

Our first category of remedies are those that stimulate kidney function. These are the remedies that are used when kidney function is depressed and water retention is present. Indications include edema, puffiness under the eyes, a swollen, damp tongue, and reduced urinary output. Another indication for these remedies is coldness, or a lack of function. This is signaled by cool skin, pale skin and tongue, slow or deep pulse, fatigue and lethargy. Lacunas with darkened areas in the iridology zones corresponding to the kidney area could be another indication.

The warming nature of these remedies means they are contraindicated when heat is present. This is indicated by heat over the kidney area, signaling that the kidneys are acutely inflamed and by redness of the face, feverish conditions, a red tongue and a rapid pulse.

Juniper (Juniperus sp.)—Juniper is warming and astringent and owes much of its urinary activity to its essential oil, which is a strong kidney stimulant and urinary tract disinfectant. Juniper is too irritating and stimulating to the kidneys for long-term use and should be avoided when there is acute infection and inflammation in the kidneys. Howver, it does help with bladder infections due to its disinfectant action. It is very good for stimulating weakened kidneys, especially in elderly patients who are suffering a loss of urinary function. Juniper is the principle ingredient in Kidney Activator, which is used as a kidney stimulant. It is also a major ingredient in JP-X and the Kidney Drainage Formula.

Buchu (Barosma betulina)—This pungent, aromatic herb is warming to the kidneys, so it stimulates kidney activity. It is also a urinary disinfectant, so it is helpful for treating kidney infections. It reduces excess acid in the urine. It is a good choice for bacterial cystitis, urethritis, nephritis, catarrh of the bladder, and urinary inflammation. It is also used for irritable bladder and to prevent recurring urinary tract infections. Buchu is found in NSP’s Cranberry/Buchu formula, which is used to prevent recurring bladder infections, but is not the best remedy when there is an active infection.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)—One of the richest herbs in sodium and potassium, parsley also contains an essential oil that stimulates kidney function. The root, leaves and seeds have all been used as medicine. Parsley is a gentler kidney stimulant than juniper or buchu and is more suitable for long-term use. An Australian naturopath once told me that if people would just eat a sprig of parsley each day, they would never have kidney troubles. Parsley is also a mineralizer, meaning it supplies the mineral electrolytes, sodium and potassium, essential for urinary function, which means it also has a tonic effect on the kidneys. Parsley is an important ingredient in both Kidney Activator and JP-X.