Herbal Supplements For Kidney Disease

Herbal Supplements For Kidney Disease: What Works?

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Herbal supplements for kidney disease is a fast growing business. You may be wondering if there are any herbal supplements that can improve your kidney health. 

In this article we will discuss what the difference is between herbal supplements and vitamins, what supplements to avoid when you have kidney disease, and what works.

Herbal Supplements and Kidney Disease

Herbal supplements are made from botanical ingredients. Vitamins are substances that are essential to help with body functions. It’s important to always talk with your doctor if you are taking any herbal supplements. 

Safety and Regulation

The FDA has no regulation on herbal supplements including dose, ingredients, and pureness. There are very few studies that have shown herbal supplements provide any benefit on health, and there are even less studies on herbal supplements and kidney patients.

Since there is no regulation on herbal supplements, many may contain unknown amounts of heavy metals. 

The kidneys work to clear waste products from the body. When the kidneys aren’t functioning as they should, waste products and toxins can build up in the body and this is true if taking herbal supplements. Herbal supplements can make kidney disease worse and if you have received a kidney transplant, herbal supplements may increase your risk of losing the kidney.

People with bleeding disorders or who are pregnant, lactating and children are at higher risk of adverse effects from herbal supplements. 

Herbal Supplements and Prescription Medications

Many herbal supplements can interact with prescription medications by increasing or decreasing how well the medication works. The following supplements can interact with medications and should be avoided.

  • St. John’s Wort
  • Echinacea
  • Ginkgo
  • Garlic
  • Ginseng
  • Ginger
  • Blue Cohosh

Herbal Supplements to Avoid with Kidney Disease

Use caution if you are taking any herbal supplement that contains aristolochic acid. This is especially harmful to the kidneys. 

Herbal Supplements with Potassium and Phosphorus

Potassium and Phosphorus are minerals that help with various body functions. Some people with kidney disease may need to limit the amount of potassium and phosphorus they consume. There are many herbal supplements that contain potassium and phosphorus. The National Kidney Foundation has a wonderful list of herbal supplements that contain potassium and phosphorus. 

How to Improve Kidney Health

There are many factors that are within your control that can help improve your kidney health.


How you live your day to day life contributes to your overall health. If you smoke, make a point to quit. Limit alcohol intake to 1 serving or less a day for women and 2 or less for men. Work towards getting to a healthy weight. Avoid the use of NSAID drugs as these are associated with kidney injury and can further damage kidneys.


Your diet plays a major role in your kidney health. Studies have shown that plant based diets such as the Mediterranean Diet, Dash Diet, and Whole Foods Plant Based Diet have positive effects on managing and even improving kidney disease. These diet patterns have also shown to help manage other chronic diseases. 


Getting 150 minutes of physical activity every week is shown to improve cholesterol levels, improve mood, prevent chronic diseases, and improve cardiorespiratory function. Try to make a point to get outside and walk, play with grandchildren, ride your bike, and garden. Whatever you like to do that keeps your body moving will have ample benefits to your overall health.


Poor sleep quality and lack of sleep is associated with various health outcomes. Obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, and restless leg syndrome are common ailments for people with CKD that can affect sleep quality. Several strategies can help improve these ailments such as using a CPAP machine, reducing caffeine, avoiding screens 1 hour before bed, exercising, and working with your doctor about medication use can help with improved sleep quality. 

Vitamin Supplements and Probiotics

When you have kidney disease it can be difficult to get the vitamins and minerals you need. There are several factors that affect your vitamin and mineral intake such as medication side effects, poor appetite, and following a restricted diet. If you’re on dialysis; skipping meals due to treatment schedule and vitamin losses through dialysis can affect what’s available for your body to use. 

Read more about what vitamins you need to consider when you have kidney disease.

There have been emerging studies that indicate that certain strains of probiotics can help remove uremic toxins that the kidneys have difficulty with. There is still more studies and research needed to explore the benefits of probiotics on kidney disease. 


Using herbal supplements for kidney disease that are not regulated by the FDA can cause more risk than benefit. Focusing on lifestyle changes such as not smoking, reducing alcohol use, diet, exercise, sleep quality are more healthful and less risky ways to help improve your kidney health. 

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