Kidney cysts are small benign fluid filled pouches which are unharmful to the body, however if they swell then they can cause some secondary complications such as pressure, pain or discomfort in the abdominals or wherever they are situated. Many Naturopaths view these cysts as wastes that have not been eliminated properly by the kidneys. If the kidneys are ineffective in removing wastes from the circulation it creates a strain on the lymphatic system and further compounds the problem due to a further decline in health. The kidneys role in the body is to break down wastes, dilute them and then remove them via the urine. An increase in wastes can put a strain on the kidneys and also affect lymphatic function.
TYPES OF KIDNEY CYSTS
There are two known types of kidney cysts, the first is Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) which is a genetic disorder of unknown causes and the second type is due to impaired kidney function.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF KIDNEY CYSTS
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
- High blood pressure
- Back or side pain
- Increased abdominal size
- Frequent kidney or urinary tract infections
MEDICAL REMOVAL OF CYSTS
The common medical procedure for Kidney cysts is to undergo a surgery procedure called a laparoscopy, which via CT scan drains the cyst of fluid. Although there is no definite cure for kidney cysts, Naturopathically it is advised to support the kidneys and their filtering process. Improving kidney function should be implemented for long term changes to encourage better filtration of the organ and to improve the health of the supportive elimination organs such as the lymphatics, bowels and liver. The appearance of cysts most often occur over a number of years, therefore trying to reduce the cyst or remove it completely (via reabsorption) is a process which can take some time.
THE ROLE OF THE KIDNEYS
The kidneys are a pair of organs situated at the back of the abdomen, below the diaphragm on each side of the spine just under the rib cage and weigh about 150gm each. Its functions are to regulate blood pressure, reduce acidity (metabolic acidosis), dispose of waste material from the blood, regulate water and fluid balance, produce erythropoietin to build new red blood cells and keep the acid/ alkaline balance controlled. The wastes flushed out from the kidneys (excess Sodium, nitrogen, aluminium, urea, metabolic wastes) are removed from the body via the urine.
Healthy kidneys act like a filter to remove wastes and fluids from the circulating blood, they keep the proper balance of salts and acids in the body and produce hormones. Every day our kidneys filter 200 litres of blood which is an essential process and they remove about 2 litres of waste products which are diluted in water. To remove this waste and extra water, blood enters the kidney through the renal artery and is then cleaned in the kidney as it passes through tiny filters called nephron. One kidney contains about one million nephrons and each nephron contains a filtering apparatus called a glomerulus. Cleaned, fresh blood then returns to the circulation via the renal vein and the wastes taken from the blood via filtration are excreted via the bladder and urine.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR KIDNEY CYSTS
- Spirulina, Wheat Grass and Chlorophyll nourishes and tones the kidneys and increases the amounts of waste removed via filtration, it is also a blood cleanser and alkaliser
- Herbs to improve the functioning of the kidneys are Borage, Chapparal, Cornsilk, Dandelion leaf, Goji Berry, Alisma, Poria, Ginkgo biloba, Green Tea, Lemon Grass (tea), Milk Thistle, Rehmannia, Parsley, Celery, Juniper, Roship (tea), Sarsaparilla, Bearberry and Golden Seal
DIET TIPS FOR KIDNEY CYSTS
- Drink herbal teas such as Dandelion Leaf and Green Tea as they support the function of the kidneys filtration and are also gentle diuretics
- The best advice to support the role of the kidneys is to ensure adequate fluid intake, at least 2 litres of water/ day. There is a saying which goes “the solution to pollution is dilution” which explains the role the kidneys place in removal of wastes from the body
- Reduce diuretics in the diet such as sugar, tea, alcohol, coffee and carbonated drinks. These place an extra burden on the kidneys filtration and can cause the body to lose more water and disrupt the sodium and potassium balance. Reduce alcohol intake as alcohol can dramatically reduce kidney function by causing a diuretic action which leads to dehydration and places a burden on the kidneys to remove the waste aldehyde from the system
- An alkaline diet rather than an acidic diet cleanses and tones the kidneys. An alkaline diet involves eating foods such fresh vegetables and fruits, lemon juice, water, brown rice, miso soup and vegetable juices. An acidic diet is foods like sugar, wheat, dairy, red meat, oranges, alcohol, preserved and processed foods
- Have a vegetable juice each day to encourage liver detoxification and kidney filtration. Some ideas are fresh juiced beetroot, carrot, celery and ginger or watermelon or pineapple, green apple and mint
- Reduce foods such as sugar, tea, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks and table salt (an alternative for this is Celtic Sea Salt) as these tend to hold onto fluid in the body
- Decrease sodium (table salt) consumption in your diet and replace with sea salt or vegetable salt. Sodium is important for the health of the kidneys but not in excessive amounts. Sea salt is rich in many minerals without being refined and does not contain aluminium (used in table salt to keep the salt dry)
- Vegetable broths are very nutrient rich for the health of the kidneys as well as alkalising excess acidity levels to help take the burden off the kidneys filtration system. You can make a broth by boiling kidney beans and a mix of vegetables such as onions, celery, carrot, beetroot, spinach, sea salt, wakame (sea vegetables/ seaweed) and drinking a cup of the broth daily. This recipe is also very rich in minerals which again will help to fortify and nourish the kidneys
- Caffeine, simple sugars and sugar alternatives (sorbitol) irritate the kidneys
LIFESTYLE FACTORS FOR KIDNEY CYSTS
- Heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, mercury and aluminium dramatically reduce kidney function
- Some pharmaceutical medications cause holding of fluids and a decrease in kidney function, so speak to your GP about possible side effects from any medications you may be currently taking
- Address underlying Kidney and lymphatic insufficiencies