Effects of Herbal Supplements on the Kidney

Wendell Combest; Marian Newton; Austin Combest; June Hannay Kosier


Urol Nurs. 2005;25(5):381-386. 

In This Article


A recent and frequently cited survey of alternative medicine revealed that 42% of Americans use alternative therapies, with 12% of these therapies being the use of herbal supplements at a cost of $5 billion annually. Furthermore, 60% of people using alternative therapy do not report this information to their health care providers (Eisenberg, Davis, & Ettner, 1999). One problem with dietary supplement use is lack of consistent requirements for rigorous safety, efficacy, and purity testing resulting in varying amounts of active constituents from batch to batch.

Although herbal medicine use continues to grow in many disease conditions, the risk from use may over shadow potential benefit, especially in the renal compromised patient population (Foote & Cohen, 1998; Isnard et al., 2004). Vulnerable times for the renally compromised patient include pre-dialysis, dialysis, and the post-renal transplant periods. They may also be confronting co-morbid disease states such as hypertension or diabetes. Renal patients may reach for additional therapy in the form of herbal dietary supplements because they experience adverse side effects or lack of efficacy from conventional medicines.


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