May 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Health Blog, Herbs For Life

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is increasing and is responsible for around 11.3% of all deaths in Australia as a result of kidney failure and end-stage renal disease. This serious and potentially fatal disease is affecting millions of Australians – most without them even realising it. There has been a 23% increase in deaths from kidney disease in the last decade and it is responsible for more deaths each year than breast cancer (2,799), prostate cancer (3,111) and road fatalities (1,417).

It is estimated that around 1.7 million Australians are suffering from the early stages of kidney disease, but most are not aware of it as 90% of kidney function can be lost before any symptoms are produced. Initial diagnosis is generally via blood and urine testing with other methods used to confirm the diagnosis. 

Renal disorders can cause a large number of signs and symptoms ranging from excessive sweating, fluid retention, weakness, high blood pressure, fatigue, shortness of breath, vein conditions, kidney stones, urinary system problems, heart rhythm disturbances, right through to kidney failure. However, as previously stated, there are usually no symptoms until the condition is really serious. Early signs of CKD may be identified via blood tests that show abnormal kidney function such as reduced estimated glomerular filtration rates (eGFR). This should then be followed by a blood test that screens for proteinuria. 

Fortunately most kidney conditions are preventable through adequate water intake, low toxin exposure, preventing systemic inflammation, trying to avoid taking drugs that cause kidney damage (e.g. NSAIDS, etc), maintaining normal blood glucose levels through diet and exercise and having a healthy diet that tends to be more alkaline than acidic. Therefore avoiding a diet that is high in animal proteins and opting for a more plant-based diet can often be beneficial for optimum renal health. Those with elevated acid levels are also more likely to suffer from skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis and other skin problems, particularly those that cause itching.

Nutritional deficiencies can play key roles in the development of CKD and low vitamin D levels have been found to be associated with this condition. In addition, nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin A and other nutrients can be important for optimum kidney health.

If you already have kidney disease, there are a number of herbal medicines that can be beneficial for kidney problems but speak to your naturopath, herbalist or naturopathic doctor before self-prescribing as they may not be suitable for you, especially if you are already taking medications. Depending on the condition, herbal medicines that may be beneficial in the treatment of kidney problems can include Apium graveolens (Celery seed), Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry), Zea Mays (Cornsilk), Barosma betulina (Buchu), Equisetum arvense (Horsetail), Agropyron repens (Couchgrass), Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion leaf), Eupatorium purpureum  (Gravel root) and Vaccinium myrtillus (Bilberry). Eating parsley and alfalfa have also been found to assist the kidneys as they can be alkalising to your system.

Kidneys and our Emotions 

Besides the physical health imbalances that kidney problems can cause, there are also mental and emotional connections between the kidneys and the mind. Renal problems can cause or aggravate mental and emotional problems such as depression, impatience, intolerance and irritability. Where there is unresolved anger, it is thought that kidneys stones are more likely to occur and fear can increase the chances of a kidney disorder, especially when the negative emotions fail to be expressed.

Kidneys and Knees

An interesting point to make about the kidneys is their relationship to the knees. One of the fundamental principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) philosophy is that ‘Everything that happens on the outside of the body reflects an imbalance within the body’. As the knees represent the kidneys in TCM, any injury of damage to the knees, can affect the kidneys and vice versa. According to TCM philosophy, the kidney meridians run through both knees thereby potentially causing kidney problems to manifest in the knees. Therefore, there can be an association between people who work in jobs that cause knee stress such as carpet layers or floor tilers and the increased likelihood of renal issues due to the connection between the kidneys and the knees. Stiffness, inflexibility or rigidity in the knees can also suggest inflexibility of the mind, reservation or stubbornness (to accept new ideas) or a resistance to move forward so be aware of these mind-body connections whenever you have negative thoughts

Maintain optimum kidney health

  • Drink adequate water each day – around 2 litres on an average day and more if you are sweating due to high temperatures or increased activity.
  • Ensure your drinking water is filtered from toxins, bacteria and parasites.
  • Include plenty of leafy green vegetables and other vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds in your daily diet.
  • Reduce or eliminate animal proteins and dairy products and exchange these for plant-based proteins such as tofu, amaranth, quinoa and goats cheese.
  • Avoid insulin resistance or diabetes through maintaining a healthy diet, regular exercise and adequate nutrient intake.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol or carbonated (fizzy) drinks and avoid smoking.
  • Express your negative emotions more freely and don’t hold on to anger, resentment or fear. Practice gratitude on a daily basis and forgiveness.
  • Try to be less rigid in your thought patterns and be more open to new ideas.


Yours In Great Health,Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MNHAA, MHATO

Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher


Earth Medicine TM


Email: [email protected]



Helping you achieve optimal wellness, hormonal balance and disease prevention with personalised, professional naturopathic health care, clinical pathology testing and high-quality herbal medicines and supplements 

Sar Rooney is a Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner specialising in Anxiety and Depression |Women’s Health| Hormonal Imbalances | Thyroid Disorders | Digestive Health | Genetic Polymorphisms (MTHFR/Pyroluria) | Nutritional Medicine | Optimal Wellness & Disease Prevention 

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Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment. Please note: I am not a medical practitioner.

Reference: Slee, A. Exploring metabolic dysfunction in chronic kidney disease. Nutrition & Metabolism 2012, 9: 36.





  1. Dan says:

    Very interesting! I’ve had shortness of breath and I was sweating too much last year and a kidney stone passed and i was fine. I now have the same symptoms and just waiting for that sharp pain to kick in.