Thursday, March 14 is World Kidney Day, an event observed annually in many countries with diverse activities that highlight the importance of protecting one of the most vital organs in the human body.
March 14th, 2013 will mark the eighth World Kidney Day - a day of global action jointly organized by the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the International Federation of Kidney Foundations (IFKF).
Serious attention to kidney health is relatively a new phenomenon in the Philippines, where dialysis and kidney failure first became bywords when newspaper headlines revealed the kidney ailment of President Ferdinand Marcos in the early 1980s. Post-EDSA I photos later showed a dialysis machine installed in the Marcos bedroom at Malacañang Palace.
Until recently, dialysis treatment used to be very difficult to get in the Philippines. The rich could go overseas for their dialysis sessions, but the ordinary salary man and even the middle class had nowhere to go that they could afford.
When she was First Lady, Dr. Luisa Ejercito Estrada secured funding from her husband former President Joseph Estrada to fund public dialysis clinics, a first in the country. This was followed by the opening of private dialysis clinics; competition and the law of supply and demand lowered the cost of dialysis treatment, which a patient needs three times weekly.
The Filipino diet is to blame for the high incidence of kidney ailments, according to the Nutritionist-Dietitians' Association of the Philippines (NDAP), whose research shows that we consume 2,800 mg to 6,000 mg of sodium a day, double the recommended daily intake.
Most of this salt comes from the sawsawan (dip) of soy sauce, patis and bagoong on every table and the growing consumption of packaged junk food which are mostly deep-fried and heavily salted.
KIDNEY-FRIENDLY FOOD - The function of the kidneys and liver is to remove toxins and wastes from our bodies; they suffer if overburdened by a diet high in salt, fat, protein and sugar. The best overall diet is one which is well balanced and includes a variety of naturally processed fruits, vegetables and grains, containing foods which are particularly beneficial for liver and kidney health.
The list includes red bell peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, onion, apples, fish and egg whites.
PINOY HERBS TO THE RESCUE - A lengthy internet search shows that Philippine herbs, long used in traditional medicine, are now recognized worldwide by doctors and scientists for their efficacy in maintaining healthy and functioning kidneys and liver.
Tops among these are: balbas pusa, banaba, sabong and luyang dilaw (turmeric) which, individually, target specific ailments; used together they have been found to benefit the kidney and liver.
Dr. Luis N. Florencio, Jr. of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), provides the results of a clinic-based study on Renalin, a supplement combining these four herbs. Here are his findings.
The food supplement is multiherb consisting of sambong, banaba, luyang dilaw and cat's whiskers.
Orthosiphon aristatus (Cat's whiskers, a source of essential oils and flavones) is listed in the Philippine Pharmacopeia 1 as a traditional medicinal plant for bacterial and inflammatory diseases of the lower urinary tract and approved by the German Commission E for urinary tract infections and for kidney and bladder stones. A study by Matsuraba et al (1999) in laboratory animals shows that the leaves contain Methylripariochromene A (MRC) which causes increased urinary volume and the excretion of sodium, potassium and chlorides which subsequently lower the blood pressure, vasodilatation.
Lagerstroemia speciosa (banaba, a source of corsolic acid) is traditionally used for diabetes, as a diuretic and in promoting weight loss as listed in the Philippine Pharmacopeia 1. Laboratory animal studies had shown that Lagerstroemia speciosa protects against induced cisplatin nephrotoxicity which appeared to be due to plant's enhanced renal antioxidant property .
Blumea balsamifera (sambong, a source of volatile oils, palmitic and myristic acids) is listed in the Philippine Pharmacopeia 1 as a traditional remedy for diuresis in edema and for expelling kidney stones. In vitro studies by Rico (1991) using surgically removed stones in urine clysis from individuals who took the medicinal plant in tablet form showed stone dissolution. The study (Rico, 1991) reported that there was also accompanying diuresis among the subjects who took sambong tablets.
Curcuma longa (turmeric or luyang dilaw, a source of curcumin) is a medicinal plant listed in the German Commission E. Monograph. This medicinal plant has also shown to be nephro-protective in diabetes-induced nephropathy in laboratory animals (Sharma et al, 2006).
FOUR HERBS, ONE PILL - Dr. Florencio recommends Renalin, a supplement combining a scientifically-formulated blend of four herbs in a convenient pill form.
"With this herbal combination, spontaneous passage of kidney stones less than 8 mm is enhanced. An informal study/evaluation of Renalin intake 3x a day among patients with urinary tract stones in 16 patients over six weeks period last year showed convincing results of over 90% spontaneous stone passage. Also there were no side effects noted and patients continuously take it for prevention of recurrent kidney stone formation," Dr. Florencio says.
FREE KIDNEY FOOD BOOK-The makers of Renalin have made available a book of lifestyle and diet advice for maintaining healthy kidneys and liver, HEALTHY GUIDE TO HEALTHY PINOY MEALS, free to readers of The Manila Bulletin.
Here's how: just text Sol, your name, address, birthdate and email address to 09209192929.