‘Did you take any Ayurveda or Siddha Medicine? That is the reason why you have developed this kidney disease. They contain heavy metals which damage your kidney.’ - There is a trend among some physicians of bio-medicine to blame Siddha medicine for renal disease. Some research findings published from the west go a step further and say - Indian traditional herbal medicines contain aristolochic acid which leads to renal failure. Many scared patients ask the Ayurveda/ Siddha Physicians ‘Is that true?’
Before answering the question let me explain what is this Chronic Kidney Disease.
Chronic kidney disease means that for some time a person’s kidneys have not been working the way they should- filtering blood and remove waste products and extra fluid and flush them from the body as urine. If they don’t work properly, wastes build up in the blood and make the person sick. This does not occur overnight but happens in a phased manner for many years as a result of damage the kidneys. The tiny filters called nephrons are damaged, they stop working. For a while, healthy nephrons can take on the extra work. But if the damage continues, more and more nephrons shut down. After a certain point, the nephrons that are left cannot filter the blood well enough to keep the person healthy.
The most common causes of this damage are:
· High blood sugar (diabetes).
· Urinary tract infection
· Birth anomaly
· A narrowed or blocked artery that carries blood to the kidneys.
· Long-term use of medicines that can damage the kidneys. Examples include Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen.
The condition manifest as reduced urinary output, collection of fluid in the tissues- more prominent in the face and legs, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, headache, loss of appetite and weight loss and disturbed sleep.
Elevated Urea level and creatinine are the lab findings.
Now answering the question – Some Indian Medicine drugs which contain mercury if not properly processed and if administered more frequently even for simple conditions and in doses beyond the safe dose recommended in the classical texts of Siddha can cause this condition like any other drug of Bio- medicine. But the majority cases are due to the killer diseases of Diabetes and Hypertension. Plants containing aristolichic acid are rarely used in any of the formulated Siddha products sold by manufacturers. The uses of these plants are negligible in Siddha and Ayurveda unlike Chinese herbal medicine. It is easier for western researchers to club the Chinese and Indian herbal products under the ‘Asian Herbal medicine’ grouping.
There are things one can do to slow or stop the damage to your kidneys. Taking medicines and making some lifestyle changes can help you manage your disease and feel better.
The Siddha herbal formulations used in treating diabetes invariably contain herbs that protect the liver and Kidney and prevent accumulation of waste to be removed by kidney. Low sodium salt, proper intake of pulses and choice of vegetables and fruits can help. It must be ensured none of the following is taken in excess – Sodium, Pottasium and Calcium. Indhuppu is better than the sodium salt.
Phyllanthus amarus, Orthosiphon stamineus and Musa paradisiaca are the top three herbs that can improve the renal function and prevent elevation of Serum creatinine and Blood urea.
The first one is to be taken as a cold processed extract, the second as a decoction- Herbal tea and third as a food supplement. It is futile if the primary cause is not properly addressed. These herbs can still be used even when the patient is on dialysis so that the frequency could be drastically reduced.
The best way is to go for regular health check up and follow a systemic life to prevent the Non communicable Diseases of Diabetes and Hypertension and if already affected follow a healthy lifestyle and regimen and ensure they do not go beyond control.