The kidneys are the filtration system for the bloodstream as well as being the producer of hormones that govern the amount of red blood cells we make and the level at which blood pressure is maintained. The filtration system balances the level of water and electrolytes and thereby controls our levels of hydration, blood pressure and toxic excretion. This is a miracle of evolution, especially for an organ that would fit comfortably in the hand.
For some reason, the translation from Eastern to Western understanding has labelled the body’s energy store as the ‘kidney’ energy or meridian. The organic function of the kidneys and the Eastern philosophy of kidney energy are not compatible but nevertheless the term kidney energy is often used by those who follow the principles of energy flow. When a practitioner of complementary medicine says that your kidney energy is weak or in excess, this does not represent, necessarily, there is a disease process within the organs themselves. Interestingly, however, disease of any organ is likely to leave the individual tired but an incapacity of the kidneys seems to result in a much greater weakness within the system as a whole than most other organ problems.
The kidneys act as a filtration system, removing toxins from the bloodstream together with excess water. They also maintain the balance of acidity and alkalinity of the blood and control levels of salts and minerals.
Glomerulonephritis is an inflammatory disease of the kidney affecting the glomeruli – part of the filtering system. Symptoms may vary from severe pain, blood in the urine, water retention and headaches in an acute inflammation, to no symptoms at all as the process slowly but surely damages the kidneys.
A tell-tale sign is froth in the toilet bowl that persists for more than 60sec or blood. Straight to the doctor please.
Persisting water retention or oedema or the discovery of high blood pressure will lead to your doctor checking your urine because protein and blood may be present but not obviously visible.
This condition may lead to permanent kidney damage and should not be treated without expert advice. After initial treatment or advice from an orthodox kidney specialist, discuss the matter with a complementary medical practitioner with experience in the area.
Consider consulting a homeopath, nutritionist or herbalist before taking orthodox treatment which will include antibiotic or even steroid use. Complementary naturopathic treatment should run alongside these drugs and, in the hands of a medically qualified complementary specialist, may even help avoid the use of orthodox drugs.
Kidney stones and renal colic
Sudden and severe, often described as excruciating, pain that strikes anywhere from the small of the back around the sides and down into the groin or vagina/penis/testes may be renal colic and is most likely to be caused by the passage of a stone. These are usually composed of calcium, oxalic or uric acids and phosphates. These compounds normally remain in solution but a change in the acid/alkaline status of the urine or the presence of a foreign body may cause these to precipitate out and start a stone or ‘calculus’ formation. If the stone is small it will travel out of the kidney, down the uretha, through the bladder and out, but if it lodges in one of the fine tubules in the kidney it will slowly grow in size.
A calculus forming within the kidney may grow to a very large size before it will cause any problems and even these may not be noticed because the pressure, whilst destroying that kidney will have no effect on the other one which will deal with the filtration of the body quite happily without its partner. If, however, a stone moves, then nature has, for some reason, made the urethra a most sensitive passage. Liken the pain to dragging a small rock across an eyeball.
This severe pain will be associated with nausea, if not vomiting, generalized weakness and the characteristic fevers and rigors of kidney problems. It is estimated that six per cent of the Western population will develop kidney stones. This is much higher than in other parts of the world. The inevitable conclusion is an association with some part of the Western lifestyle, although orthodox renal specialists will not hear of there being any association with diet. This is because a couple of trials have removed the major foods containing calcium and uric acid and found no appreciable difference. Of course they will not if other factors such as dehydration, deficiencies and heavy metal poisoning are not also taken into account. Studies have shown that vegetarians have a decreased risk of developing stones, as also have those with reduced sugar intake and the presence of low levels of citric acid . An excess intake of milk and alkali foods including antacids, can cause stones. This condition is known as the milk-alkali syndrome. An excess of vitamin D are also at risk because this increases the absorption of calcium thereby causing an increase in urinary calcium.
Several serious medical conditions can cause an excess secretion of calcium, oxylate and uric acid and all these need to be reviewed if a stone is passed.
FOR AN ACUTE ATTACK
If a sudden excruciating pain should occur and a stone is suspected, ensure that all urination is done through a sieve to catch the calculus.
Visit your GP, preferably with the passed stone. If the stone has not yet left the body, admission into hospital will be preferable for adequate pain relief. Full metabolic investigations must be undertaken and renal X-rays should be undergone, including those using special X-ray opaque dyes to ensure that the passing stone was not part of a larger calculus.
The homeopathic remedies Aconite and Hypericum, both at potency 6, should be alternated every lOmin until the stone has passed or adequate pain relief has been given, usually through an injection of pethidine.
A castor oil pack on the front, side and back of the side that is hurting may be beneficial. It is worth remembering that a pain anywhere from the kidney to the tip of the urethra may be reflected from the stone being anywhere along that passage. The brain is not good at isolating the exact point of urogenital pain.
Beta-carotene and vitamin C should be taken as follows to help the healing of the damaged kidney and urethra: beta-carotene and vitamin C , both per foot of height in divided doses with food throughout the day.
Lobelia tincture every hour may make a considerable difference. A tea made from the leaf of Uva ursi can be drunk to relieve the pain and it also acts as a mild diuretic. Ensure that plenty of water is taken.
A stone may lodge in the urethra due to spasm. A herb known a$ kella was used 4,000 years ago by the Egyptians in the treatment of kidney stones. Dosage depends on the purity and it is best prescribed by a herbalist. More easily available are Aloe vera products, which may actually reduce the size of a stone if taken at a level high enough not to cause diarrhoea.
If the presence of kella, Aloe vera and high water intake do not remove a lodged stone, the orthodox world will suggest the use of a ureter basket to remove it. This is a specialized instrument that is passed into the bladder via the urethra and up the ureter. At the level of the stone a small nylon net is ejected from the end passes around the stone and, when tightened and withdrawn, will bring the calculus with it. This method has now been surpassed by the use of ultrasound, which shatters the stone, but this is not available in all hospitals.
FOR PREVENTION OF STONE FORMATION
There is an increased chance of a stone or calculus reforming unless the following lifestyle changes are considered.
Ensure that someone analyses the type of stone you have produced because dietary restrictions will be recommended around the type of compound that created the calculus.
Remove high protein, fat and refined sugar from the diet. Eliminate caffeine, alcohol and manufactured soft drinks, which generally contain phosphoric acid.
Do not cook with aluminium pans.
Avoid beetroot, spinach, nuts, cabbage and rhubarb. Special mention should be made of cranberry and sesame seeds, both of which are considered to be ‘healthy’ for kidney problems but are contraindicated in renal calculi.
Vitamin B6 and magnesium , both per foot of height in divided doses throughout the day, can reduce oxalic acid.
If the stone has calcium involved with it, increase the intake of wheat bran, corn, potatoes, bananas, avocado, brown rice, soya products, oats and rye, all of which have a high magnesium/calcium ratio.
Ensure that you are not taking any regular vitamin D compounds and watch out for those fortified foods.
Take the daily dose as recommended on your chosen product.
Discuss with a complementary medical practitioner the correct doses for the use of vitamin B6, vitamin K, glutamic acid, magnesium and potassium.
Nephrotic syndrome is characterized by the finding of protein in the urine with consequential low protein levels in the bloodstream that lead to a tendency for oedema or water retention within the tissues. Other findings include high fat levels in the blood. There are often no symptoms, and other tests including blood pressure are normal. This condition results from damage to a part of the kidney that allows proteins to leak through when they should not.
Nephrotic syndrome may occur for no apparent reason in pregnancy but is probably associated in non-pregnant patients with an asymptomatic infection or toxic intake, such as chemicals, additives, pollutants, smoking, alcohol and other drugs.
This condition is usually diagnosed by a simple urine test and the physician who performed this is liable to do extensive tests on the kidneys because protein in the urine may represent more sinister conditions such as infection or tumours. It is important to rule out any other condition.
Follow strictly the advice of a kidney specialist. There is some debate whether a high or low protein diet should be followed, but whichever belief your kidney expert expounds, the protein intake should be organic and pesticide-free.
See recommendations for the prevention of kidney stone formation.
Pyelonephritis describes infection of the kidney and is derived from nephron and pyelo . An infection may be acute following bacterial infection up from the bladder, or invading the kidney via the bloodstream. Direct trauma may also cause an acute infection. Chronic pyelonephritis is the same situation but usually with less aggressive bacteria and simply means a prolongation of the initial infection. A chronic condition may flare up repeatedly and can be created due to a weakness at the valves in the bladder end of the urethra, which allows bacteria to travel up.
The symptoms are of tiredness and pain in the small of the back, usually one-sided but often bilateral. There is often a waxing and waning of fever and an almost characteristic condition known as ‘rigors’ which are simply uncontrolled shivers. Kidney infection is usually associated with cystitis and therefore painful urination and blood in the urine are often seen .
The kidneys can be damaged very swiftly and if untreated renal failure is a possibility. If the alternative medical suggestions below do not seem to have an impact within the first few hours of treatment then a medical opinion, including the use of antibiotics, should be considered with appropriate complementary medical care aiming at preventing antibiotic effects or a condition becoming chronic.
Take a sample to your GP for culture, microscopy and sensitivity .
Whilst awaiting the results of the CMS ensure good hydration. Start antibiotics if kidney pain is present whilst awaiting urine sample report. Drink one pint of water per foot of height in divided doses throughout the day.
Follow the recommendations here for cystitis and it is possible, following the work of a professor in Zurich, to assess the chances of hypogonadism by comparing the size of the testes to a string of increasing-sized beads known as an orchidometer. Sperm counts are, apparently, falling, possibly due to pollution and toxins within the food chain, and it may be that the size of the testes will diminish accordingly. Our professor in Zurich will keep an eye on this.