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Is Ashwagandha Good For Your Kidneys?

Ashwagandha For Kidneys

By increasing insulin sensitivity and lowering your blood glucose and BP, a daily dose of ashwagandha can negate your risk of kidney damage due to diabetes or high BP. Besides fighting drug-induced toxicity, it mends damaged microtubules and balances electrolyte levels. As it destroys free radicals generated by toxicity, it halts inflammation, keeps the kidney tissues intact, and helps kill kidney cancer cells.

When you go to a doctor, you are most likely to come away with one advice: drink enough water. By now you know that it’s to support the kidneys, the organs essential for filtering out waste, surplus water, and impurities from your blood. In the process, they maintain the water volume, the sodium and potassium levels, and the pH balance in the body. They also produce hormones that balance the blood pressure and even produce red blood cells. Now you can imagine the havoc that kidney failure can wreak inside your body!

What Causes Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure, the final stage of chronic kidney disease, is mostly brought about by diabetes and high blood pressure. But it could also be a result of urinary tract disorders, nephrotic syndromes, genetic disorders like polycystic kidney disease, or autoimmune diseases like lupus. While these happen over time, a heart attack or a constriction of blood flow, or even drug abuse, can make the kidneys fail suddenly.1 Needless to say, steer clear of excessive alcohol or tobacco consumption and substance abuse, follow a balanced diet, and drink enough water.

But not just water. Ayurveda recommends ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) or Indian ginseng as a preventative and curative option. This herb, thanks to the withaferin A and withanolide D in it, is a pharmacological wonder, effective as it is in treating a variety of health conditions, from inflammation to cancer cell growth.

What Is Ashwagandha’s Role In Protecting The Kidneys?

In a nutshell, ashwagandha eliminates the root causes of kidney damage or failure, helps the kidneys function better when already affected, and prevents further damage. There are multiple mechanisms at play.

Acts Against Diabetes-­Induced Kidney Trouble

Diabetes, a leading cause of kidney failure, affects both kidneys at once and damages the kidney filters. This eventually leads to the leakage of albumin, an important protein, via urine. If diabetes is detected early, you can avoid kidney damage.2

Reduces Blood Glucose Levels

In one study, six type 2 diabetes patients and six patients with high cholesterol were administered ashwagandha root powder for 30 days. The consequent decrease in blood­ glucose levels was comparable with the effect of the oral hypoglycemic drug Daonil.3

Increases Insulin Sensitivity

A group of type 2 diabetes rats that were treated with an aqueous extract of ashwagandha for five weeks showed significant increase in insulin sensitivity.4

Lowers High Blood­ Pressure

High blood pressure is considered the second leading cause of kidney failure in the United States.5 As the blood pressure increases, the blood vessels in the kidneys get damaged, which affects their ability to filter waste and extra fluid from the blood. The extra fluid raises the blood pressure even further. Ashwagandha is known to lower blood pressure. A study proved that when hypertensive test subjects consumed ashwagandha root powder mixed with milk, there was a significant reduction in their systolic and diastolic readings.6

Fights Toxicity

Higher doses of drugs, toxins, infectious agents, and chemicals increase the toxic load on the kidneys—a condition known as nephrotoxicity. This eventually damages the kidneys and leads to an electrolyte imbalance, making it difficult for the body to maintain homeostasis—a stable state of equilibrium where the body can function optimally.

Restores Electrolyte Balance

As revealed in a study on rats with gentamicin (antibiotic)­-induced nephrotoxicity, ashwagandha plays a role in maintaining the serum electrolyte levels within normal limit.7

Protects Kidney And Liver Tissues From Free Radical Damage

Toxicity, often a side effect of antibiotic consumption, typically leads to free radical generation, eventually leading to inflammation. The inability of the body to counter free radicals—also known as oxidative stress—is a major cause of kidney damage and can even lead to cancer. The antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and bioactive compounds in ashwagandha either prevent the formation of free radicals or scavenge them, reacting with them and destroying them.8 This antioxidant activity protects the cellular integrity of kidney and liver tissues.9

Repairs Damaged Kidney Microtubules

Carbendazim, a common fungicide sprayed on most fruits and cereals you eat, is toxic and can damage the blood-­filtering components in the kidneys. Animal studies have shown that ashwagandha has a curative effect on the damaged microtubules in the kidneys.10

Prevents And Treats Renal Cancer

Withaferin A, one of the primary constituents of ashwagandha, inhibits several cancer types. Research shows that ashwagandha helps induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) of the cancerous cells along the human kidneys. 11

Fights Inflammation

Thanks to its active steroids, chiefly withaferin A, ashwagandha is a powerful anti-­inflammatory and anti-­tumor agent.12 The anti-­inflammatory property of this horsy­-smelling herb is what makes it effective in curing chronic renal dysfunction.13

Dosage And Caution

Wonderful as ashwagandha is, the important thing you should keep in mind is that you need to take it as a daily tonic, not in dribs and drabs. The recommended dosage of its root powder form is 3–6 grams. Or you can take 6–12 ml of the fluid extract. Upping the dosage randomly won’t necessarily give you greater benefits, and you might get an uncalled-­for stomach upset to boot. Also, large dosages can lead to miscarriage; so you’d better avoid the herb during pregnancy. But remember, if you have a chronic kidney condition, don’t self­-medicate. Get your dosage monitored and approved by a doctor.

References   [ + ]

1. ”What causes kidney failure?”. American Kidney Fund.
2. Hasslacher, Christoph, and Sonja Bohm, Diabetes and the Kidneys. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons, 2005.
3. Andallu B and Radhika B., “Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root.”, Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 38 (2000): 607­9.
4. Anwer, Tarique, Manju Sharma, Krishna Kolappa Pillai, and Muzaffar Iqbal. “Effect of Withania somnifera on Insulin Sensitivity in Non Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus Rats.”Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology 102, no. 6 (2008): 498­503.
5. High Blood Pressure and Kidney Disease. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Sep 2014.
6. Kushwaha, Shalini, Agatha Betsy, and Paramjit Chawla. “Effect of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root powder supplementation in treatment of hypertension.” Ethno Med 6, no. 2 (2012): 111­115.
7. Shimmi, Sadia Choudhury, Nasim Jahan, and Nayma Sultana. “Effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract Against Gentamicin Induced Changes of Serum Electrolytes in Rats.” (2012).
8. Sumathi, S., P. R. Padma, S. Gathampari, and S. Vidhya. “Free radical scavenging activity of different parts of Withania somnifera.” Ancient science of life 26, no. 3 (2007): 30.
9. Jeyanthi, Thangavel, and Perumal Subramanian. “Protective Effect of Withania Somnifera root powder on lipid peroxidation and antioxidant status in gentamicin induced nephrotoxic rats.” Journal of basic and clinical physiology and pharmacology 21, no. 1 (2010): 61­78; and Chaurasia, Shyam Sunder, Sunanda Panda, and Anand Kar. “Withania somnifera root extract in the regulation of lead­induced oxidative damage in male mouse.” Pharmacological research 41, no. 6 (2000): 663­666.
10. Akbarsha, M. A., S. Vijendrakumar, B. Kadalmani, R. Girija, and A. Faridha. “Curative property of Withania somnifera Dunal root in the context of carbendazim-­induced histopathological changes in the liver and kidney of rat.” Phytomedicine 7, no. 6 (2000): 499­507.
11. Um, Hee Jung, Kyoung­jin Min, Dong Eun Kim, and Taeg Kyu Kwon. “Withaferin A inhibits JAK/STAT3 signaling and induces apoptosis of human renal carcinoma Caki cells.” Biochemical and biophysical research communications 427, no. 1 (2012): 24­29.
12. Patel, Snehal S., and Jignasha K. Savjani. “Systematic review of plant steroids as potential anti­inflammatory agents: Current status and future perspectives.” The Journal of Phytopharmacology 4, no. 2 (2015): 121­125
13. Grunz­Borgmann, Elizabeth, Valeri Mossine, Kevin Fritsche, and Alan R. Parrish. “Ashwagandha attenuates TNF­α­and LPS­induced NF­κB activation and CCL2 and CCL5 gene expression in NRK­52E cells.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 15, no. 1 (2015): 1.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.