(Natural News) The kidneys play an extremely important role in maintaining a person’s health – and life itself. It is, however, remarkably fragile and has a limited ability to regenerate following damage. Natural substances, such as the extract of black cumin (Nigella sativa), can be used to aid the kidneys’ recovery, according to a study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research.
The kidneys are a pair of small organs – each about the size of a person’s fist – whose main function is to filter out waste and extra water from the blood. This way, they maintain the healthy balance of fluids and nutrients that keep the different parts of the body functional.
Unlike the liver, which has the ability to regenerate lost tissue, the kidneys have very limited regenerative abilities. Because of this, they are prone to scarring after they sustain damage, whether from disease or an injury. This scarring, called renal fibrosis, can result in the progressive loss of renal function, potentially leading to irreversible kidney failure. Once this occurs, the only recourse is either a kidney transplant or dialysis.
High blood pressure has a close relationship with kidney health, itself being both a cause and an effect of kidney problems. When the body notices that the amount of blood going to the kidneys is reduced – possibly because of sodium or water loss or the narrowing of renal arteries – a special enzyme called renin is released. This enzyme becomes the catalyst for the conversion of a protein called angiotensin into several forms, part of the actions of which is to constrict surrounding capillaries increasing the pressure of blood that enters the kidneys.
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However, this effect, meant to maintain optimal kidney function, damages the kidneys in the long run. Chronic high blood pressure negatively affects the kidneys and is one of the causes of kidney damage. Blocking the renin-angiotensin system is, therefore, one of the main methods both for regulating blood pressure and supporting kidney repair.
The extract of black cumin can be used to facilitate kidney repair, says a study. The authors gave rats an injection of known renin-angiotensin system blockers: losartan (15 mg/kg) and captopril (30 mg/kg). They also injected two more groups with 200 and 400 mg/kg of black cumin extract for 18 days. (Related: Black cumin: The secret miracle heal-all remedy.)
The left ureter of all animals undergoing treatment was ligated during the fourth day. A control group received saline solution as a vehicle and a sham operation. The procedure, called unilateral ureteral obstruction, is used as an experimental model for renal fibrosis. It resulted in an increase in inflammatory proteins, markers of oxidative stress, and the number of dead cells. The activity of antioxidant enzymes also diminished.
However, these negative outcomes were improved in the mice that were treated with losartan, captopril, and black cumin extract. Because of this, the researchers concluded that black cumin has the ability to aid in kidney repair in a manner comparable with those of known renin-angiotensin system blockers.
Ways to ensure kidney health
Although the kidneys may be fragile, keeping them healthy doesn’t take too much work. Here are steps to maintain optimal kidney health:
- Control blood pressure and blood sugar levels – As previously mentioned, chronic high blood pressure destroys the kidneys. Heightened blood sugar does the same. In fact, the kidneys are among the first organs to be hit by diabetes complications.
- Stay fit – Exercising regularly aids in maintaining both blood glucose and blood pressure, making it one of the best ways to prevent chronic kidney disease.
- Eat healthily – Watching one’s food intake not only helps in controlling both blood pressure and blood sugar, but it also prevents the entry of substances that can harm the kidneys. For instance, a diet that’s low in salt prevents the buildup of too much sodium that causes kidney damage.
- Hydrate often – Drinking enough water helps the kidneys do their job, but drinking too much can be just as dangerous. On average, a person needs three to four pints of water per day for healthy kidneys.
- Limit over-the-counter drugs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used medications for pain that can have negative effects on the kidneys.
- Quit cigarettes – Smoking has many negative effects. It slows down the entry of blood into the kidneys, impairing the organs’ function. Cigarettes also raise one’s risk of contracting various types of cancer.
Learn how to maintain optimal kidney health at Health.news.