Most dangerous drugs to cause kidney damage and best nutrients for kidney health
Acute renal failure – a sudden loss of kidney function due to kidney damage – occurs when the kidneys can no longer effectively filter waste products from the blood. Incidence of acute kidney failure is soaring nationwide, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that rates of hospitalization for the condition have doubled since 2000.
In addition, conventional science confirms this is a serious problem. For example, one study reveals that a shocking 20 percent of hospital admissions for acute renal failure are caused by over-the-counter and prescription drugs.
The unfortunate fact is: a variety of popular medications, including headache remedies, heartburn drugs and antibiotics, have the potential to wreak havoc on the kidneys. Let’s take a look at the list of drugs toxic to kidneys – and four nutrients that help protect kidney function.
Risk Alert: NSAIDs Increase the Risk of Kidney Damage
In a review of studies published in the journal Nephrology, researchers identified nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as the most likely to affect kidney function, with acetaminophen (sometimes sold under the brand name Tylenol) topping the list.
Editor’s note: Although Tylenol is not a NSAID – it can still cause kidney damage. Many of the drugs featured in this report should clearly be used with more caution. And, we always encourage our readers to be well-informed before taking any drug or supplement. (for obvious reasons.)
In fact, so toxic are NSAIDs to kidneys that the researchers noted that up to 5 percent of users can be expected to develop kidney damage requiring hospitalization. How can we continue to allow these drugs to be sold to the public?! (Can you imagine what they would do if a vitamin caused this much damage?)
And, don’t forget the other (toxic) NSAIDs – which include, Bayer, Aleve and Advil (to name a few).
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) warns that NSAIDs – which appear in numerous over-the-counter remedies for headaches, colds, fever and muscle pain – shouldn’t be taken daily (unless your knowledgeable integrative doctor specifically advises it).
The NKF warns that taking NSAIDs – when you are sick and/or dehydrated – can amplify the harm to kidneys.
Important note: COX-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex are in a special class of NSAIDs designed to be less harmful to the stomach. However, researchers say they can pose a threat to kidney health as well.
Common Antibiotics and Blood Pressure Medications Can Also Be Culprits
Medications which can cause drug-induced renal failure include antibiotics – such as ciprofloxin, methicillin and sulfonamide drugs – and antivirals such as acyclovir (Zovirax).
And ACE inhibitors – although intended to protect kidneys by controlling blood pressure – can also affect renal function if you continue to take them when blood pressure is low, or when you are dehydrated.
Experts say that, in these instances, the kidneys can’t protect themselves with normal filtering.
Proton pump inhibitors, which are used to treat heartburn, can damage kidneys as well. Examples are omeprazole (Prilosec) and lansoprazole (Prevacid).
Immunosuppressive drugs, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; lithium, used for bipolar disorder; and anticonvulsants – such as phenytoin (Dilantin) – can also damage kidneys.
Chemotherapy drugs that can impair kidney function include interferon, cisplatin, carboplatin, tacrolimus and mitomycin.
And radiographic contrast dyes, used in MRIs and CT scans, can be harmful to people with kidney disease.
Finally, statin drugs, used to lower cholesterol, are associated with rhabdomyolosis, in which muscle breakdown products enter the bloodstream. Rhabdomyolosis, which can lead to acute kidney failure, features symptoms such as sudden increase in muscle pain and weakness, along with fever.
Although kidney failure may show no symptoms, possible signs can include loss of appetite, fatigue, changes in mental status, nausea, vomiting, itching, shortness of breath and seizures. If you think you are experiencing kidney failure, seek emergency medical care.
Fortunately, you can promote kidney function and repair with natural nutrients.
Better Options: Support Your Kidney Function With Coenzyme Q10, Vitamins and Fatty Acids
In one study, 180 mg of the antioxidant CoQ10 per day for 12 weeks lowered levels of two waste products, urea and creatinine, in the blood, thereby decreasing – and even reversing – the progression of end-stage kidney disease in an amazing 81 percent of the patients.
In addition, the number of patients on dialysis decreased by 50 percent! By contrast, the patients who did not receive the nutrient experienced worsening renal function.
CoQ10 is found in grass-fed beef, cage-free poultry and sardines. It is also available as a supplement.
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxamine, helps to neutralize harmful molecules formed during the oxidation of fats, and can discourage the development of advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. In one impressive study, pyridoxamine was found to slow the progression of kidney disease.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has classified pyridoxamine as a ‘drug,’ an alternate form of B6 – pyridoxal-5-phosphate – also works against AGEs and kidney disease.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that promotes kidney function. It slows kidney function failure resulting from oxidative stress – and one study showed it helps the kidneys clear creatinine in patients with diabetes.
Good sources include olive oil, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds and hazelnuts.
Alpha-lipoic acid has been found to be particularly effective against drug-induced kidney damage, and has been used medically to protect kidneys against toxic doses of acetaminophen and cyclosporine.
Studies show that this beneficial fatty acid can reduce the risk of dangerous cardiovascular complications in patients with end-stage kidney disease. You can increase dietary levels with brewer’s yeast, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and potatoes. ALA is also available in supplementary form.
As always, consult with a trusted, integrative physician before adding any supplements to your health routine.
Promote Healthy Kidney Function With a Proper Diet
An influential Columbia University study has shown that eating a Mediterranean diet – high in fresh produce, fish and healthy fats and oils – can reduce the risk of kidney disease.
Eliminate or sharply reduce your use of salt and added sugars – and banish (toxic) trans fats, fried foods, fast foods and GMOs from your diet.
Instead of salt, opt for “kidney-friendly” antioxidant-rich spices and flavorings such as lemon, rosemary, thyme, cumin, sage, basil, oregano, onion and garlic.
Controlling blood sugar and blood pressure helps to maintain healthy kidneys, as can finding natural techniques – such as biofeedback, yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy and meditation – for managing stress and pain.
Of course, you should never stop taking any prescribed medication without first clearing it with your doctor. But, do discuss the possibility of finding less-toxic natural alternatives – your kidneys will thank you.