Is Ashwagandha Good For Your Kidneys?

Is Ashwagandha Good For Your Kidneys

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.