You might not think about your kidneys or urinary tract very often, but they play a huge role in your overall health by removing waste products, toxins and excess fluids from your body.
Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for something to go wrong in these systems (bladder infections, urinary tract infections, etc.), causing you a lot of pain and discomfort.
The good news is that there are numerous herbs for kidneys and urinary tract support that help with proper function and can offer some relief when things go wrong.
WHAT HERBS TO USE FOR KIDNEY & URINARY SUPPORT?
A QUICK OVERVIEW OF YOUR KIDNEYS & URINARY TRACT
Your kidneys are small bean-shaped organs that are located just below your rib cage on each side of the spine. Their main function is to filter your blood, removing waste products, acids, and extra fluid as needed to make urine.
When healthy, kidneys should filter about half a cup of blood every minute.
Your urinary tract includes your kidneys as well as three other organs: the ureters, bladder, and urethra.
Basically, the urine produced by your kidneys flows through the tube-like ureters (one attached to each kidney) and is held in your bladder until you expel it via the urethra.
As you can see, the whole urinary system is incredibly important for getting toxins and excess fluid out of your body, and anything that goes wrong can really upset your health.
The most common problem is an infection due to bacteria that enters through the urethra and travels to the bladder or kidneys.
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to keep the whole urinary tract healthy, and some have also seen use for fighting infections.
WHAT ARE THE BEST HERBS FOR KIDNEYS & URINARY HEALTH?
Juniper berries aren't actually berries at all but rather the fused seed cones that grow on juniper trees. They have a strong resinous flavor and have been used to flavor food and drink (most notably gin) as well as medicinally.
The reason juniper berries support the kidneys and entire urinary tract is because they have diuretic properties.
Diuretics stimulate the flow of urine, which encourages wastes and fluids to continue getting flushed through your kidneys and out of your body. Because of this, they may help stop the formation of kidney stones.
Juniper berries have also been used for urinary tract infections in the past, usually as part of a comprehensive herbal formula.
You can take juniper on its own as a tea or tincture.
Uva ursi, also known as bearberry, is an evergreen shrub that puts out bright red berries in the fall. The leaves of this plant have antimicrobial properties and have long been used for urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Uva ursi is thought to calm inflammation and irritation in the mucous membranes of the bladder and the rest of the urinary tract as well have action against infection.
The German Commission E has approved uva ursi for treating inflammation in the urinary tract, and it also has a diuretic effect that support overall kidney function.
You can take uva ursi alone as a dried herb made into a tea or as an extract.
Pipsissewa is a native herb in the northern U.S. and southern Canada. It grows as a very short evergreen perennial that produces deep pink fruit in the fall. Most often, the leaves of the plant are used medicinally, but the roots can be used as well.
The leaves of pipsissewa contain similar compounds to those of uva ursi, and it acts as a diuretic to help flush out the kidneys as well as an antiseptic.
Native American tribes frequently used pipsissewa for bladder inflammation (cystitis), kidney stones, and urinary infections.
Marshmallow root has demulcent, soothing properties that make it valuable for all kinds of conditions that involve irritated or inflamed tissues. This comes from its high mucilage content, which makes a thick, almost gel-like liquid when combined with water.
It's this tissue-soothing property that makes marshmallow root a good addition to kidney, bladder, or urinary tract formulas because it helps to calm inflammation associated with an infection.
Because of this, marshmallow is usually most effective when combined with other herbs for kidneys and the urinary tract.
Parsley is mainly thought of as a culinary herb, but it has also been used for many health-related reasons throughout the years.
One of the most recognized medicinal properties of parsley is its action as a diuretic. It can help to relieve bloating and water retention and helps flush toxins out of the kidneys to support overall kidney and urinary tract health.
Both the leaves and the roots of the plant can be made into a tea and drunk 3-4 times a day. (The roots are actually a stronger diuretic than the leaves!)
You can also add generous amounts of the fresh leaves to your diet.
Goldenrod is a cheerful wildflower (some might say weed) that is often falsely blamed for fall allergies (usually the culprit is ragweed). It has antimicrobial and diuretic properties as well as a strong affinity for the urinary tract.
Because of this, goldenrod has a long history of use for UTIs and is approved by the German Commission E for use in irrigation therapy for urinary and kidney problems.
Goldenrod (leaves and flowers) can be very effective when made into a tea
Did you know that the silky strands attached to corn cobs have medicinal properties and can be used as an herb?
It's true, and in this case, corn silk can be valuable as part of an herbal formula for UTIs and cystitis. It has diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties and is also cooling in nature, which helps to ease irritation.
Corn silk is generally considered to be most beneficial when used in a tea because its demulcent (soothing) properties are not extracted in alcohol.
Cranberries are technically a fruit rather than an herb, but they have long been used for urinary health and deserve a spot beside the other herbs for kidneys and the urinary tract.
No one knows why cranberries and cranberry juice are so good for the urinary system, but some think it comes down to the high level of antioxidants known as proanthocyanidins found in the berries.
Drinking unsweetened (or naturally sweetened) cranberry juice is one way to support your urinary tract.
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