No wonder they sometimes are affected by inflammation or other maladies. Some of the symptoms of poor kidney function include infrequent or inefficient urination, swelling from water retention, or “edema,” especially around the ankles, and labored breathing due to fluid accumulation in the chest cavity. Inflammation of the kidneys is frequently caused by urinary tract infections.
There are a few other common medical conditions such as kidney stones. A kidney stone is a solid piece of material, such as calcium (the most common type), magnesium and ammonia (called a struvite stone), uric acid, or very rarely, cystine (a crystalline amino acid that occurs in most proteins). They occur in the kidneys from mineral or protein-breakdown products in the urine. Most pass through the system with the urine, routinely and unnoticed. Occasionally, these substances become too large, and the stones can become trapped in a ureter, bladder, or urethra, which can block urine flow and cause intense, persistent, penetrating pain in the side or lower back. Other symptoms may include blood in the urine and fainting, among others.
Though all the possible causes of kidney stones, inflammation, and other conditions are beyond the scope of this article, as important as your kidneys are to you, one should ALWAYS consult a qualified health care professional when deciding on the treatment course for any kidney malady. Western medicine treatment ranges from pain management with ibuprofen or opioids, to Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (a non-invasive treatment using an acoustic pulse), to more invasive surgical procedures. All of these procedures are proven to be very helpful, but they also all include some dangers and risks.
Perhaps a proactive approach to maintain kidney health to the fullest extent possible would be a wise course to follow! Essential oils may play a key role in helping to maintain healthy, busy kidneys. “The enduring popularity of herbal medicines may be explained by the tendency of herbs to work slowly, usually with minimal toxic side effects.”
Fennel, juniper, and German chamomile oils are frequently used to promote healthy kidney function1.
Fennel seeds are the dried fruits of Foeniculum vulgare, and have effectively been used in herbal remedies since ancient times, even appearing in the Ebers Papyrus, the original Egyptian “physician desk reference book” dating back to the 16th century B.C. All parts of the Fennel plant have a delicious aniseed aroma, but it is the ribbed oval-shaped, greenish-gray seeds from which the essential oil is distilled. (Fennel contains compounds which act like estrogen, so women suffering from breast cancer or uterine cancer should avoid taking it in large quantities. Epileptics and pregnant women are recommended to avoid fennel seed essential oil.) With an extremely high OREC* score of 238,400, fennel oil is power-packed with anti-oxidants, the Super Man to fight inflammation-causing free radicals. It is a natural diuretic and kidney tonic, so drinking fennel tea will increase the flow of urine and flush excess water and toxins from the body. As a urinary tract antiseptic, fennel has frequently been helpful in relieving urinary tract infections, thus helping to prevent kidney inflammation. It has oftentimes been recommended, and has been shown to have value in the prevention and dissolution of kidney stones.
Juniper oil is steam distilled from the aerial parts of the juniper shrub, the stems, leaves, and flowers. Similar to fennel oil, juniper oil is diuretic in nature, that is, it promotes the frequency of urination. Thus, it is very beneficial for those who are suffering from accumulation of water in the body, and/ or swelling due to chronic renal failure, for example, by removing extra water from the body through urine. It also helps in losing weight (because each time you urinate, some fats are lost from the body), reducing blood pressure, removing extra sodium and toxins like uric acid from the body.
The essential oil of Juniper also cleans blood of toxins and thus acts as a detoxifier or blood purifies. This property is known as “Depurative,” meaning ‘one which purifies’. It helps remove the regular toxins like uric acid, heavy metals, pollutants and certain compounds and hormones produced by the body itself, from blood, as well as other foreign toxins which get into blood accidentally, supporting the kidneys in their filtering process.
Listed in Dioscorides’ De Materia Medica (AD 78), Europe’s first authoritative guide to medicines and the standard reference work for herbal treatments for over 1700 years, German chamomile’s beneficial effects for the human body and mind are diverse and many. Extremely rich in antioxidants, with an ORAC score of 218,600, to quench free radicals, German chamomile inhibits lipid peroxidation (the oxidative degradation of lipids, the process in which free radicals "steal" electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, resulting in cell damage) and inflammation throughout the body.
One research project evaluated the anticancer properties of extracts of chamomile against various human cancer cell lines. Exposure of chamomile extracts caused “minimal growth inhibitory responses in normal cells, whereas a significant decrease in cell viability was observed in various human cancer cell lines. Chamomile exposure resulted in differential apoptosis in cancer cells but not in normal cells at similar doses2.” This means chamomile oil stopped the growth of cancer cells, while not harming normal, healthy cells of the kidneys and other cancerous organs!
Therapeutic grade fennel, juniper, or roman chamomile oils may be applied on location over the kidneys, when diluted with pure vegetable oil, such as grape seed, coconut, olive, or almond oil. It may also be inhaled from the bottle or hand palms or diffused, or taken as a dietary supplement in a capsule or a drop or two in a warm cup of water to make a tea. Be sure the brand you use states it is safe for ingestion. Combining all three of these powerful oils will provide a safe and effective kidney detoxification. Blend together 6 drops German chamomile, 6 drops juniper, and 2 drops fennel. Place 5 drops of this mixture in an empty gelatin capsule , fill with any of the above healthy fatty oils, and ingest with water. Or, massage this mixture over the kidneys (both sides of the mid back, at the lowest two ribs) directly and undiluted, or mixed with any of the above healthy fatty oils. Place a compress over the area for 5-10 minutes (a thin dry towel; then a hot, wet towel; and topped with another dry towel). Repeat daily as the individual feels necessary. Proactive and frequent application of these essential oils, along with a healthy diet, physical activity, and taking plenty of water, can help keep those hardworking, multi-tasking kidneys in tip-top shape!
DISCLAIMER: Information in this article is for education purpose only. Consult a medical practitioner for individual health problems.
(1)Srivastava, Janmejai K., Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. "Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future." Molecular medicine reports 3.6 (2010): 895. Selected Research: Fennel: Sharma, M. (2009). Efficacy of Some Essential Oils to Cure Some Common Problems in Human Beings. Ethnobotanical Leaflets, 2009(5), 5 . Lis-Balchin, Maria, and Stephen Hart. "A preliminary study of the effect of essential oils on skeletal and smooth muscle in vitro." Journal of ethnopharmacology 58.3 (1997): 183-187.
Haze, Shinichiro, Keiko Sakai, and Yoko Gozu. "Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults." The Japanese journal of pharmacology 90.3 (2002): 247-253.
Takacsova, M., A. Pribela, and M. Faktorova. "Study of the antioxidative effects of thyme, sage, juniper and oregano." Food/Nahrung 39.3 (2006): 241-243.
Masteiková, R., et al. "An orientational examination of the effects of extracts from mixtures of herbal drugs on selected renal functions." Ceska a Slovenska Farmacie 56.2 (2007): 85.
(2 )Srivastava, Janmejai K., and Sanjay Gupta. "Antiproliferative and apoptotic effects of chamomile extract in various human cancer cells." Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 55.23 (2007): 9470-9478.