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11 Herbs That Act as Kidney Health Supplements

Published | 4 min read

Your kidneys play a vital role in your body by filtering your blood and removing waste Ensuring they’re in great shape is important for your overall health and well-being. Start taking care of them with natural herbs that act as kidney health supplements.

Healthcare professional points to a model of a kidney using a pen.

Your kidneys are bean-shaped organs that filter your blood, remove toxins, and maintain fluid and electrolyte levels in your body, among other functions. Ensuring they’re in tip-top condition is vital, and taking natural herbs akin to kidney health supplements can help. 

In both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Kidneys are a vital organ and essential to life.

“In TCM, the Kidneys (shen, 肾) are regarded as the source of stored qi (vital life force), jing (essence), body warmth, marrow, brain matter, and resistance to illness. It is also central to growth and reproduction.”  

TCM Physician Chu I Ta.

Consider adding these TCM herbs to boost Kidney health. 

Wolfberry  

  • Temperature: Neutral 
  • Taste: Sweet 

Wolfberry or goji berry (gou qi zi, 枸杞子) targets the Liver and Kidney channels, nourishing these organs and tonifying jing. Its neutral temperature helps maintain the balance of yin (cool, passive energy) and yang (warm, active energy). 

Euryale seed 

  • Temperature: Warm 
  • Taste: Sweet, astringent  

Euryale seed or foxnuts (qian shi, 芡实) strengthens the Kidneys and Spleen, helping clear Dampness. Its detoxifying action on the Spleen helps your body process waste and eases the burden on the Kidneys. 

Black sesame seeds

Black sesame seeds on a wooden spoon and wooden plate.
Black sesame seeds are considered neutral in nature and are suitable for everyone.
  • Temperature: Neutral 
  • Taste: Sweet 

Black sesame seeds (hei zhi ma, 黑芝麻) can be enjoyed by everyone due to their neutral temperature. It tonifies the Kidneys, Liver, and jing. It also moistens the large intestines, helping your body remove waste. 

Chinese yam 

  • Temperature: Neutral 
  • Taste: Sweet 

Frequently used as an ingredient in Chinese cuisine, Chinese yam (shan yao, 山药) is a qi tonic that you can include in your daily meals. It tonifies Kidney qi and yin and preserves jing. It’s also great for preventing diabetes, which is a risk factor for kidney disease

Closeup of dried and sliced Chinese yam in an apothecary tray surrounded by other Chinese herbs.
Chinese yam (shan yao) is a common kidney-boosting herb in TCM and is often used in Chinese cuisine.

Horny goat weed 

  • Temperature: Warm 
  • Taste: Pungent, sweet 

Horny goat weed (yin yang huo, 淫羊藿) is suitable for Yang Deficiency conditions due to its warm nature. The herb targets the Kidneys and Liver to promote the circulation of qi and body fluids, aiding Kidney function. Like many sweet and Kidney-tonifying herbs, it helps slow acute reactions and detoxifies the body.

Chinese dodder seed 

  • Temperature: Warm 
  • Taste: Sweet 

Chinese dodder seed (tu si zi, 菟丝子) tonifies the Kidneys and jing. This herb treats many conditions stemming from Kidney Qi Deficiency. It also nourishes the Liver and promotes eye health.

Eucommia bark 

  • Temperature: Warm 
  • Taste: Sweet 

Eucommia bark (du zhong, 杜仲) helps those who have too much Coldness in their body. It’s one of the few TCM herbs that can be used alone rather than with other herbs. Often used to treat Kidney Yang Deficiency, eucommia bark strengthens bones and tendons and can help prevent miscarriages

Fleece flower root 

  • Temperature: Slightly warm 
  • Taste: Bitter, sweet, astringent 

Also known as he shou wu (何首乌), fleece flower root cleanses the body, promoting waste elimination and keeping the Kidneys healthy. This herb can be taken in the processed form to tonify and enrich blood. In its raw form, it eliminates toxins. 

You can prepare shou wu in a soup with black beans.

Dendrobium

Dried dendrobium spread on gunnysack cloth on a wooden table surrounds a wooden cup of herbal tea.
Dendrobium is commonly consumed as part of a herbal tea formula for health and vigour.
  • Temperature: Cool 
  • Taste: Sweet 

Dendrobium (shi hu, 石斛) is the only herb in our list that has a cool temperature and is suitable if you have too much Heat. Often consumed as a tea along with other herbs, it restores Kidney jing and promotes longevity. It’s also great for digestive and sexual health. 

Cordyceps 

  • Temperature: Warm 
  • Taste: Sweet, salty 

Known in Chinese as snow caterpillar fungus (dong chong xia cao, 冬虫夏草), cordyceps may first seem strange to newcomers. However, it is sought-after for its vitality-boosting properties. This fungus nourishes jing and tonifies the Kidneys and Lungs, helping resolve phlegm. 

Hairy or velvet antler  

  • Temperature: Warm 
  • Taste: Sweet, salty 

Deer antler (lu rong, 鹿茸) is another highly prized non-plant “herb”. It tonifies blood, jing, and Kidney yang. Its action on Kidney yang promotes regeneration and reproductive health, including cardiovascular health.

Your kidney health is crucial in maintaining your body’s overall health, and taking natural herbs is a great way to ensure they’re in tip-top condition. However, it’s best to first consult with a TCM physician before taking any of the herbs mentioned above as kidney health supplements. This is to ensure you get the best results and to avoid contraindications. 

Curious about incorporating TCM into your healthcare? Check out other articles on our website.

References

  1. BMC Nephrology. 2020. Prevalence of chronic kidney disease and its associated factors in Malaysia; findings from a nationwide population-based cross-sectional study. [online] [Accessed 1 February 2023]  
  2. Cleveland Clinic. 2022. Kidney. [online] [Accessed 1 February 2023] 
  3. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2022. Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Chronic Kidney Diseases: Theories, Applications, and Mechanisms. [online] [Accessed 1 February 2023] 
  4. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. The Effects of Velvet Antler of Deer on Cardiac Functions of Rats with Heart Failure following Myocardial Infarction [online] [Accessed 1 February 2023] 
  5. MedIndia.net. 2018. Top 10 Health Benefits of Fox Nuts. [Accessed 1 February 2023] 

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