Love your kidneys

My herb class is awesome. Today I’m writing about how amazing your kidneys are. You know, I took biology (and loved it) but everything was so factual – brain stuff, missing the heart. I love the herbalist approach to health and the body so much more!

Did you know, for instance, that most of the liquid you take in isn’t eliminated by the kidneys (hard to believe for those of us on long rides that need to find the next rest stop after drinking a big bunch of water or tea!)? The liquid you take in is filtered by your kidneys and some of it (3-6 pints, daily) is used to eliminate toxins (your pee). The rest of it is absorbed back into your system along with the substances your kidneys know to keep (like sodium, potassium, etc.). Smart little fellas.

What other functions do the kidneys perform?

  1. They help maintain the proper PH balance
  2. They help regulate blood pressure (via the hormone Renin that they produce)

And lastly – and this is why I love herbalism – they help regulate our emotional state. I mean, what doctor is going to tell you that?

If you retain water (yin excess), you can experience symptoms of PMS. Women often retain water just prior to their period. I never knew that! Did you know that? This explains a LOT!

If you are dehydrated (yang excess) you can become angry / hot tempered.

My studies also mention a headache as a symptom of too much water, but I personally know that you can get a headache from becoming dehydrated. So maybe a headache is basically a symptom of kidney imbalance.

I will be writing up materia medica for the kidneys. You’ll find them tagged with urinary.

Symptoms of Kidney Imbalance

Kidneys are pretty sturdy organs, but if you notice any of these symptoms, you might want to consider nurturing them with some herbs:

  • Dark, puffy circles under your eyes or water retention in other areas of the body
  • Depression / blues
  • Headache
  • Allergies
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Tenderness in the lower back, where your kidneys sit
  • Itchy or irritated ears / eyes
  • Skin rashes
  • Insomnia

Restoring Kidney Imbalance

Like any health issue, there are some universal things you can do to help bring your kidneys back into balance. These include:

  • Adequate Rest
  • Good nutrition
  • Drink lots of water / herbal teas

In addition, particular to the kidneys:

  • Sit up straight so you don’t put pressure on them (slumping = no good. Actually, sitting too long = no good, as well)
  • Drink cranberry juice
  • Take a kidney tonic (made out of combinations of herbs good for the kidneys)
  • Find techniques to deal with stress (kidneys react to stress)
  • Avoid caffeine, alchohol, and drugs (which all tax the kidneys)

If you find you do have a kidney imbalance – especially if you have a few of the symptoms listed above – see an herbalist, who can formulate specific tonics based on your condition and can recommend other supportive behaviors.


Please note that the information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat health issues. Its intent is to inform people on how to prevent disease. If you are dealing with a health issue or on medication, you should not add herbal treatments without discussing them with your doctor.

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