Reprinted from Sunshine Sharing

The Kidneys & Bladder
See also this file on the Urinary System (Important!)

The kidneys, located near the lower ribs on either side of the spine, look like two bean-shaped organs that regulate the fluid in your body. They also excrete too much acid or alkaline elements and clear the blood of toxins. About 2.5 pints of water are excreted as urine every day. Urine is about 96% water.

The kidneys cannot do their job without a sufficient amount of water, so remember to drink enough water.
About 2.4 million nephrons inside the kidneys filter the blood. They help to regulate the sodium/potassium ratio, vital for energy production, etc. All in all, about 300 pints of water are filtered each day.




With such a big job to do, certain nutritional elements are important to keep them healthy so you don't experience the various kinds of pain produced by discontented kidneys such as bladder infections, kidney stones, or pain in the lower back.

The kidneys can be poisoned, clogged, malnourished, ruptured by blows, and overworked until they begin to break down. Blood in the urine is a sign, or could be an infection of the filtering tubules.

The urinary system is a complex and intricate system consisting of the kidneys, urethra, bladder and ureters. A well-functioning urinary system is essential for good health. Although we tend to equate the urinary system simply with elimination, it is actually an amazingly complex filtering system that minute-by-minute determines what to excrete and what to retain in the body. In fact, over 95 percent of the water and most of the nutrients we take in, are reabsorbed.

The kidneys purify 45 gallons of blood every day. Considering that you have 7 to 8 liters of blood in your body, this means that your entire blood volume gets filtered approximately 20 to 25 times each day!

Our kidneys produce enzymes and hormones which interact with other compounds and help us maintain our blood pressure.
They regulate the proper fluid balance in our bodies and help maintain the proper acid and alkali balance.

Kidney failure is a life threatening situation. If the kidneys cannot filter toxins from the blood and move them out of the body, these waste toxins accumulate in the blood and contaminate the entire system.

Signs of possible urinary problems include either:
high or low blood pressure
itchy ears
skin rashes
depression or mood swings
ear or eye irritation
insomnia or restlessness
dark, puffy circles under the eyes
allergies or hay fever
rashes
PMS
pain felt in the side or back around the hips
pain around the pubic bones
painful urination
water retention.


While one or two of these symptoms are probably not cause for alarm, if you find yourself manifesting numerous symptoms, you might want to investigate what is happening.

The river of life must always flow, and a malfunctioning kidney/bladder system has become a common problem for millions. With powerful chemicals being washed out of the body from stress or dietary and environmental poisons, inner tissue can be irritated or even burned. Constant irritation will wear down the health of the urinary system and leave it open to infection.

A common irritant is diuretic drugs, often taken to expel excess water from the body, to lose weight or alleviate swelling. Other drugs can be irritating also, especially if the liver is unable to sufficiently neutralize their toxic properties first.

Another common problem is caused by not drinking enough water, or water that is contaminated. Although 8 glasses of water are recommended, this amount is not correct for everyone. Too much water can diminish the blood’s oxygen and cause lethargy or a type of “drunkenness”. Too little cuts energy production and all cell activity, also piling up wastes to poison and suffocate the whole system. Drink enough to satisfy your inner feedback system. It knows how much you need, unless you are experiencing certain diseases (like diabetes) that warp your inner signals for thirst.

So besides using good water, various nutritional aids can strengthen, clean out, and increase the proper function of the kidneys and its associated bladder and tubes.

The body uses the kidneys to maintain a balance of many processes and needed nutrients. The blood flowing through the kidneys needs to have a pH of 6-7. This can be determined by touching a small piece of pH paper to a drop of urine. (You can purchase this pH paper on this site.) Any large shift to either alkaline or acid can be a warning of trouble. [You may want to read the article "About the pH"]

If stress has caused an alkaline (higher pH number) condition, this is medically called “alkalosis”. Certain acids like vitamin C, lemon juice, cranberries, apples and especially apple cider vinegar diluted with water are excellent normalizers.

A pH of 4 is too acid and “five” may be temporary. Sometimes vinegar will drop the pH that low for awhile, but soft drinks and coffee are very acidic (4.5 pH) and cause a lowering of the pH also. People drawn to these drinks may actually be suffering from alkalosis as a result of stress and are unwittingly balancing their blood pH. However, they are using means that may harm other parts of the body at the same time.

Everyone probably recalls having the flu and the backache that went with it. This was more than likely caused by overloaded kidneys trying to cleanse the body from the mass of destroyed germs and body tissue that occurs during an illness. The kidneys ache. This is an important time to rest and wash the poisons out by diluting them with plenty of liquid—healing broth,“green drinks” (made from blended/strained wheatgrass or other greens), fruit and vegetable juices and pure water.

Without getting into the function of the kidneys, it should be understood that each contains little tubules that must not die or the blood cannot be cleansed. Dirty blood wears out the body, like dirty oil in an engine. Never allow this to happen! Your kidneys are giving you a continual “oil change” every minute. Of the heart’s total output, the kidneys take 25% all the time. Remember that exercise will also help keep the plumbing running, and can help strengthen muscles needed to prevent embarrassing moments.

We must not forget the bladder.

This little storage facility has special muscles that actually wring itself out when emptying. Having to hold irritating substances for too many hours will weaken these muscles and the bladder may not totally empty. The remaining often contains bacteria which, in this warm environment, can cause bladder infection.

If, however, you experience bladder irritation, it could be one sign of a weakened constitution. If this is the case, JP-X, Golden seal, and Urinary Maintenance are very effective in combating this painful situation. Once the irritation is overcome, continue to use Urinary Maintenance to help rebuild and maintain healthy kidneys and the overall urinary system.

If the infection becomes persistent, or keeps recuring, it would be wise to check and treat for Candida Albicans.

This is just a general overview of the urinary system, and it will be the foundation upon which we will continue to build by discussing some of the specific problems and common distresses experienced within the kidneys and the bladder.


Symptoms & Conditions

CAUTION: As always, use wisdom and care when dealing with any physical problem. Do not take unnecessary chances. Nutritional supplements can give you remarkable results when used correctly. Be glad to get counsel and learn more about your particular problems. In that spirit of knowledge and being responsible, we offer some folk uses (some of which are being validated by scientific research) of various herbs, vitamins and minerals. Perhaps these will also help to correct other health problems you did not realize were related to the urinary system.

BACKACHES
(from stressed or inflamed kidneys): Alfalfa, garlic, parsley (see “infection” below).

BLOODY URINE

(see infection, below): capsicum, combination KB-C, vitamins A, C.

EDEMA
Immersion in water helps to rid the body of sodium, which may keep excessive water in the body. Combination potassium will also help drive sodium and water from the system.

INFECTION
Alfalfa, Corn silk, Golden seal, Juniper berries, Parsley, Parthenium, Uva ursi, L-Lysine amino acid, vitamins A, C and E.

NEPHRITIS
This can be a streptococcus infection that has reached the kidneys and can destroy them. However, strep bacteria cannot tolerate an acid environment. Acidifying the urine may therefore help the antibiotic herbs (see “infection” above) in combating this serious disease. Note that vitamin C, cranberry, lemon juice, and vinegar diluted in water are all acid formers of the urine. Other causes of nephritis may be other kinds of bacteria, toxic drugs, alcohol, arsenic or mercury poisoning.

PAIN
(See “backache” and “infection” or “stones”)

SCANTY URINE
Capsicum, Juniper berries, immersion in water.

STONES
(see below): Cornsilk, Horsetail, Hydrangea, Magnesium, strawberries, Zinc.

Kidney Stones

Preventing stones is the painless way “to go”. Plenty of water keeps the blood thin and the urine diluted so that mineral or chemical compounds do not precipitate into stones. Another preventative is to take enough Calcium with Magnesium and vitamin B6.

Eating too much meat raises the stone-forming oxalates and calcium in the urine. In addition, natural fiber in the diet helps sop up excess fat and toxic materials. Products like Psyllium Hulls, Nature’s Three should help. Increase your dietary intake of natural, whole foods.

There can be three causes of kidney stones:
* too much acid in the kidneys
* chronic diarrhea and
* too much animal protein.
But a diet too high in fat and sugar, and lacking in natural fiber, magnesium or B6 can also lead to problems. For those suffering from stones, be very cautious. Unless you fully understand your condition, and know precisely what to do, self-treatment is not safe. Using ultra sound to break up stones can cause high blood pressure if they damage the kidneys.

The ripe berries are used. They can be eaten raw (hard to do because they are so strong), made into a tea, or dried carefully to maintain the aromatic oils and encapsulated. They are effective against a uric acid buildup in the blood, which can settle out in the toes as gout. The berries also settle the stomach and help prevent flatulence.

Four Winds Nutrition Recommends...
If you suffer with kidney stones: Hydrangea

Kidney and prostate power (Hydrangea arboresceny) 
Hydrangea is a diuretic that has the reputation for dissolving kidney stones and relieving kidney-related backache. 
It is also used where there is a prostate problem including non-specific urethritis and other general inflammations of the urinary system in the aged. 
Hydrangea is recommended for removing calcium deposits and relieving arthritis swelling over time. 
One source says that too much may cause vertigo and chest congestion.

Call us for quantities, times per day etc. 407-740-8084 (E.S.T.)


Although a wonderful nutritional aid for the urinary system, and effective against infections of the whole urinary tract, juniper berries should not be overused when the kidneys are weak. If they are infected, use other herbs first until the kidneys are normalized.

Externally the berries can be applied to any painful swellings, including neuralgic and rheumatic pains. It is also a parasite killer, and is soothing and helpful in many cases of diabetes. Juniper has even been used as a seasoning for meats, sauces, soups, stew and marinades. We know one man who had chronic urinary infections for years, and antibiotics were beginning to fail him. But with juniper berries, he has not been bothered since. That is a true story, and while it won’t apply to everyone, many will experience a relief and lifting of a very painful burden to both body and spirit.

This very strong diuretic is packed with an abundance of nutrition. Parsley is very powerful and heavy consumption during pregnancy is not advised because it is very high in potassium, which helps remove water retaining sodium in the body. It is also high in calcium, vitamins A and C, niacin and riboflavin; all builders of the urinary system. Ancient folk uses include kidney stones and gallstones, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, asthma, and coughs. Parsley is most famous as a tonic and breath mint. It stimulates good digestion and is somewhat laxative. As a poultice it can help with swollen glands, insect bites and stings. No wonder parsley is still popular. It is used in herbal formulas for the kidney, thyroid, liver and prostate, and is somewhat antibiotic. So why would anybody leave it on their plate?


 
The Salt Connection
 


Most of us know that too much salt in our bodies can lead to temporary swelling. An evening's overload on movie popcorn or ballpark franks can leave us puffy-eyed and headachy, with stiff, swollen hands and feet, the next morning. "That's because our kidneys retain fluid in our bodies so that the excess salt can be diluted," explains David McCarron, M.D., professor of medicine and head of the Division of Nephrology, Hypertension and Clinical Pharmacology at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. And, contrary to what you might think, drinking more water will not worsen fluid retention and may even help.

And some researchers believe that too little salt in the diet can also cause fluid retention, Dr. McCarron says. "We speculate that too little salt may trigger the kidneys to secrete more of a hormone that conserves salt, in part by reducing urinary output," Dr. McCarron says. He recommends keeping salt intake at 2,400 milligrams (a little more than one teaspoon) a day, an amount thought to maintain optimum blood pressure.

For most people, this still means cutting back by about 1,000 milligrams (about a half-teaspoon) a day. Since most of our salt comes from processed foods, not from the shaker, the best way to cut back is to look for sodium-free or low-sodium versions of cheeses, nuts, crackers, lunchmeats, canned soups and vegetables.

"And women who are dieting may be eating a lot of celery, which has a higher level of sodium than any other vegetable," Dr. Pratt says. Munch on carrot sticks instead, she suggests.

Mix-and-Match Minerals

Getting too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can also contribute to fluid retention, Dr. McCarron says. "These minerals all play important roles in the fluid balance in your body--your body's ability to move fluid into and out of cells and from the bloodstream or lymphatic system into tissues and back again," he says.

He recommends getting about 3,500 milligrams of potassium a day (the Daily Value), an amount you can obtain by eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables. (Potassium is lost in cooking water, though, so don't count on boiled potatoes or greens for this mineral unless you consume the water that they're cooked in.)

For magnesium, aim for the Daily Value of 400 milligrams, Dr. McCarron suggests. Most people fall short of this amount, with men getting about 329 milligrams a day and women averaging 207 milligrams a day. Nuts, legumes and whole grains supply the most magnesium; other good food sources are green vegetables and bananas.

And for calcium, doctors recommend striving for 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams a day. On average, men between ages 30 and 70 get close to 1,000 milligrams a day, while women in the same age group consume only about 700 milligrams daily, at least 300 milligrams less than they need.

If you have heart, kidney or liver problems or diabetes, or if you're taking a diuretic to relieve fluid retention or high blood pressure, you should supplement these minerals only under medical supervision to make sure you don't develop dangerously high blood levels, says Dr. McCarron. People who are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, potassium-sparing diuretics, ACE inhibitors or heart medications such as heparin should also check with their doctors before supplementing potassium.


Natural Diuretics

Sometimes the kidneys become sluggish. When they don’t do their job, fluids build up in the body along with toxic compounds. Headaches are often a sign of foul blood. Malfunctioning kidneys can also cause blood pressure problems as body fluids rise. Stimulating kidney blood purification is not the only goal, however.

Weakened kidneys should be treated gently and given the nutrition required. So expect to take some time rebuilding the urinary system.

Herbal combinations Kidney Activator, Chinese formula Kidney Activator, KB-C, HSN Complex, PBS, and PX are all different, but nonetheless, act as diuretics. They are not harsh in action and help strengthen the kidneys. If you can find watermelon, the seeds are especially excellent for the kidneys . . . yes, you can even chew the small black seeds like nuts.

Single herbs that are used mostly to stimulate healthy kidneys include:




Helping Common Bladder Problems

BEDWETTING: Vitamin Calcium w/Magnesium, Cornsilk, Mullein, Kidney Activator are excellent sources for treating these kinds of problems.

BURNING URINE: Peppermint oil (2 drops in a cup of water), Alfalfa, Cornsilk, Juniper berries, Liquid Chlorophyll, Parsley, Slippery elm, Uva ursi, drink more water and urinate more often. (May be caused by infection; see below)

INFECTION (CYSTITIS): Juniper berries, watermelon seeds, Acidophilus and Pau d’arco (use both if yeast is suspected from antibiotic use; avoid all yeast products, mushrooms, chocolate, nuts, pickled foods, and vinegar for awhile), Aloe Vera juice, Burdock, cabbage juice, Cornsilk, Echinacea, Garlic, Golden seal, Uva ursi, Yarrow.

WEAK BLADDER (incontinence): combination KB-C, vitamin C, B6 (but not in high amounts), Sarsaparilla, White Oak Bark, Cornsilk, Garlic, and more exercise.

This information is for educational purposes only. Consult with a qualified health practictioner for all serious or persistant illness. Copyright © 1990 by Robinson & Horne, L.C., P.O. Box 1028, Roosevelt, UT 84066. This material may be duplicated for educational purposes only (not for resale) provided it is not altered in any way.

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