Kidneys, the pair of bean-shaped organs in the lower abdomen, help remove excess water and waste from the body. Kidney diseases such as kidney infections, kidney stones, renal failure and kidney cancer affect the healthy functioning of these organs. In fact, the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse estimates that more than 10 percent of the American population 20 years or older has chronic kidney disease. Apart from medications and surgery, garlic may also help manage kidney diseases. Talk to your doctor to find out if garlic is right for you.
Garlic, or Allium sativum, is a small, perennial plant native to central Asia. The cloves from the bulbs of the plant are traditionally used as a spice and flavoring agent in many cultures around the world. Garlic contains a chemical compound known as allicin that gives it immense medicinal value. The common cold, infection, heart disease and certain cancers are just some of the conditions that may be treated using fresh garlic or garlic supplements, available in powder, capsule, oil and liquid extract form. Their appropriate form and dose varies, depending on your age and overall health. Talk to your doctor to establish a regimen that is right for you.
The biologically active components of garlic can inhibit the production of blood pressure-enhancing hormones by the kidneys. They can also lower the reabsorption of salts by the kidneys and increase urine production. All these mechanisms may help reduce high blood pressure, says Dr. James Scala, author of the book “Twenty-Five Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure.” A study published in a 2008 issue of the journal “Pharmacological Reports” also reveals that garlic can significantly lessen kidney damage associated with mercury chloride exposure in laboratory animals. Mercury chloride -- used in disinfectants, insecticides, batteries, wood preservatives and other products you may come in contact with daily -- is a potential carcinogen, although its effects have not been proven conclusively in humans. Another study in the February 2001 issue of the journal “Food and Chemical Toxicology” points out that low doses of garlic may increase the antioxidant status of kidneys and protect them from free radical-mediated damage. The authors of the study, however, point out that high doses of the herb may have the opposite effect, and thereby emphasize that more research has to be done determine a safe dosage range for garlic.
Garlic has been used in food for centuries and is generally considered safe, but some side effects, such as bloating, upset stomach, bad odor and skin lesions, have been reported occasionally. Garlic supplements may also interfere with certain blood-thinning and HIV medications. Ask your doctor if garlic supplements will interfere with the medications you take.
Although garlic supplements are available at most natural food stores and can be bought without a prescription, you must talk to your doctor before using garlic supplements to promote kidney function. Remember that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the garlic supplements sold in the United States. So, make sure that the product you intend to use has been tested for safety by an independent testing agency.
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Kidney and Urologic Diseases Statistics for the United States
- Twenty-Five Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure; James Scala; 2001
- Pharmacological Reports: Comparative Evaluation of the Protective Effect of Selenium and Garlic Against Liver and Kidney Damage Induced by Mercury Chloride in the Rats
- Food and Chemical Toxicology: Garlic-Induced Alteration in Rat Liver and Kidney Morphology and Associated Changes in Endogenous Antioxidant Status
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Garlic
- Zedcor Wholly Owned/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.