End stage renal or kidney failure, by its very name, signifies a medical point of no return wherein an affected individual can be maintained on dialysis for a few months to possibly a few years; however, the inference is that the kidneys have been damaged to such an extent that there is no possible treatment to reverse or even reduce the damage. The alternative option of kidney transplant is available only to a select few.
Chronic kidney failure is also known as chronic renal failure (CRF) or chronic kidney disease (CKD). There are several medical conditions which can cause this condition, including persistent high blood pressure, untreated and/or uncontrolled diabetes, renal artery stenosis, advanced and chronic polycystic kidneys, medical conditions like advanced autoimmune disease, adverse drug reactions, drug abuse, severe infections, and large, impacted kidney stones.
For all likely causes, an early diagnosis and early institution of effective treatment is crucial in preventing permanent kidney damage. This is easier said than done, since kidney disease in the first 3 stages is often asymptomatic. It requires an alert physician familiar with the patient’s medical history, to pick up tell-tale signs and symptoms indicative of latent kidney disease. Persistent residual sediment in urine samples, presence of albumin in the urine, and a gradually increasing creatinine level – even though it may well be within the stipulated normal range – are indicators of gradual kidney damage. Presence of likely causes which are known to damage kidneys in the long run, should also act as red flags.
For the sake of convenience in treating this condition, the causes can be divided into pre-renal, renal, and post renal. Post renal causes usually include ascending infections, and damage resulting from blockage of urine due to impacted kidney stones. Such causes can usually be treated and removed completely, and the damaged kidneys usually recover completely in most patients. Pre-renal causes include generalized conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and diseases causing inflammation in different organs, such as auto-immune diseases.
Ayurvedic herbal treatment is especially useful in treating such generalized medical conditions which put the kidneys at risk. A detailed practical management of such conditions is out of scope of this article; however, the basic principles of treatment include recommending a diet to treat and reduce allergy and inflammation, maintaining a healthy environment in the intestines, treating generalized inflammation and infection, and providing specific treatment to heal and strengthen damaged organs and systems.
Irrespective of the cause, the end result of chronic kidney disease is damage to nephrons, which are the functional and structural working units in kidneys. The ensuing dysfunctional filtration brings about a cascade of chemical, metabolic, and physical changes which are typical of chronic kidney disease. Initially, the healthy or surviving nephrons compensate by increased functioning; however, this proves counter-productive in the long run by resulting in damage and sclerosis of the healthy neurons too, resulting in progressive and irreversible kidney failure.
Herbal medicines act specifically on the capillaries and nephrons in the kidney to reduce infection, remove inflammation and blockage, remove damaging immune complexes, and bring about healing to damaged tissue. Most patients with up to stage 4 kidney disease improve very well with long term Ayurvedic treatment, usually ranging from 6 to 10 months. Dialysis can be given concurrently to tide over the acute stage of compromised kidney function.
Chronic kidney failure is a complicated medical condition and may require joint supervision and treatment by specialists from different fields. Ayurvedic herbal treatment is useful to basically treat and potentially reverse damage to kidneys, which is the hallmark of chronic kidney disease.