Herbal Supplements and Kidney Disease

Herbal Supplements and Kidney Disease

Is it safe to use herbal supplements if I have kidney disease?

No. You may think about using herbal supplements to help with any health concerns you may have, but as a patient with kidney disease, you should not use herbal supplements.

Use of herbal supplements is unsafe if you have kidney disease since some herbal products can cause harm to your kidneys and even make your kidney disease worse. Also, your kidneys cannot clear waste products that can build up in your body.

The herbal supplement market is a multi-million dollar business. You may hear from a friend or family member about an herbal supplement that they think has improved their health or well-being and they suggest it to you. While this advice may be fine for them, it can be dangerous for you with kidney disease.


What are the facts about herbal supplements?

The following facts about herbal supplements are true for everyone, with or without kidney disease. Herbal supplements often have more than one name: a common name and a plant name. Some common concerns include:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbal supplements for dose, content, or pureness.

Some herbal supplements have aristolochic acid, which is harmful to kidneys.

Herbal supplements made in other countries may have heavy metals.

There are few studies to show if herbal supplements have real benefits and even less information in patients with kidney disease.

Herbal supplements may interact with prescription medicines to either decrease or increase how the medicine works.Can herbal supplements interfere with the other medicines I take?

Many herbal supplements can interact with prescription drugs. A few examples are St. Johns Wort, echinacea, ginkgo, garlic, ginseng, ginger, and blue cohosh. If you have a kidney transplant you are especially at risk, as any interaction between herbal supplements and medicines could put you at risk for losing your kidney.

Are there other health related issues for herbal supplements?

As with anyone, patients with kidney disease may have other health related issues. If you have a history of a bleeding disorder you are at high risk for bad reactions to herbal supplements. Women who are pregnant or lactating, as well as children, are also at high risk.


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