Effects of Herbal Supplements on the Kidney

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

Disclosures

Urol Nurs. 2005;25(5):381-386. 

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Medicinal Plants With Diuretic Activity

These herbs may be of particular interest to patients pre-dialysis who believe that they may be able to stimulate their declining kidney function and thus delay the need for dialysis. The following herbs have traditional use as diuretics: juniper berry (Juniperus communis), parsley (Petroselinum crispum), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), horsetail (Equisetum arvense), asparagus root (Asparagus officinalis), lovage root (Levisticum officinale), goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea), uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi), stinging nettle leaf (Urtica dioica), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa) (Fetrow & Avila, 1999). These herbs with varying degrees of diuretic activity require caution even in healthy individuals but should be especially a concern for the renal- compromised patient. Most of these herbs should more accurately be called "aquaretics" in that they increase glomerular filtration rate and urine output but do not stimulate electrolyte secretion. Some act as direct tubular cell irritants and others may alter serum electrolytes with resultant cardiovascular consequences.

Juniper berries contain terpine-4-ol in the volatile oil fraction which may cause kidney irritation and damage in excess (Newall, Anderson, & Phillipson, 1996). In Germany, parsley and goldenrod are indicated for systemic irrigation of the urinary tract and for preventing kidney stones. The diuretic effect of parsley leaf and root is due to its volatile oil components myristicin and apiole (Newall et al., 1996). Also in Germany, dandelion, horsetail, and uva ursi are licensed as standard medicinal teas to stimulate diuresis.

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