Herbs or natural substances as complementary therapies for chronic kidney disease: ideas for future studies

J Lab Clin Med. 2006 Apr;147(4):160-6. doi: 10.1016/j.lab.2005.11.011.


Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is an increasingly common condition with limited treatment options that is placing a major financial and emotional burden on the community. The use of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMS) has increased many-fold over the past decade. Although several compelling studies show renal toxicities and an adverse outcome from use of some CAMS, there is also emerging evidence in the literature that some may be renoprotective. Many nephrologists are unaware of these potential therapeutic benefits in treating CKD, or they are reluctant to consider them in research trials for fear of adverse effects (including nephrotoxicity) or deleterious interaction with co-prescribed, conventional medicines. The increased use of self-prescribed CAMS by their patients suggests that practitioners and researchers should keep abreast of the current information on these agents. A primary goal of this article was to review the available scientific evidence for the use of herbs or natural substances as a complementary treatment for patients with CKD. A further goal was to report the literature on herbs that have been reported to cause kidney failure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angelica sinensis
  • Animals
  • Astragalus Plant
  • Complementary Therapies* / adverse effects
  • Cordyceps
  • Drug Contamination
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / adverse effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / adverse effects
  • Phytotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Rheum
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • sairei-to