Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the term used to describe the gradual and progressive loss of kidney function. The underlying causes of CKD can be numerous, though unfortunately (understatement) they are often overlooked. It’s not uncommon for early to mid-stage CKD patients to be delivered a diagnosis, to then be told there’s nothing to be done but wait for the disease to progress (ie wait for their kidneys to fail). Usually in the meantime they will be put on an ACE inhibitor to control their hypertension, if that. And so begins the waiting game for dialysis, without having even considered the underlying causes.
Standard diagnostic tests for CKD include urinalysis and blood work. If no symptoms are present, oftentimes no more than this cursory work-up is conducted before the patient is basically told to just wait until dialysis is needed. If the patient doesn’t have diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, then the shoulders are shrugged and the patient is counseled to wait and see. This is a travesty, as there is much that can be done during these early stages to aid and even reverse the process with the use of naturopathic and herbal medicine. The need for dialysis can be prevented. The key is finding out what is really going on, and for this, additional tests are often needed.
At Naturopathic Northwest Urology, we usually recommend that at least a kidney ultrasound be performed, and in many cases a kidney biopsy as well, for patients diagnosed with CKD. These additional tests can help determine the underlying causes of disease, particularly autoimmune diseases (glomerulonephritis of various types), polycystic kidney disease, kidney tumors, or chronic/recurrent infections. Even patients with known, long-standing diabetes or hypertension (both well-established and common causes of CKD) are not simply assumed to have CKD due to these conditions, but proven so by ruling out other possible causes and assessing the features of the kidney damage going on. Other testing is often undertaken, depending on what is found, to find the causes of the causes (for example, many patients with IgA nephropathy and other types of glomerulonephritis have a problem called leaky gut which needs to be addressed if the CKD has any hope of being slowed or reversed).
Once a more accurate picture has been obtained, then herbal and nutritional medicine has much to offer in terms of slowing the disease process, providing tissue support, and decreasing or halting the rate of decline. Of course everyone’s case is different and there is no perfect guarantee of results. Herbal protocols are personalized and fine-tuned according to the specific clinical picture and every effort is made to achieve success. We have had numerous patients avoid the need for dialysis by following a customized naturopathic treatment plan.
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