We’ve all cooked with it, added it to a veggie juice, or had it as a warming soothing tea. But now the scientists at the Sri Venkateswara University in India (Molecular Biology division) have taken it one step further and started running extensive tests on this humble herb. This humble herb you know as Ginger, and it has been shown to have positive and remarkable effects in the treatment and management of alcohol induced renal oxidative damage. Who would have thunk it?
It is well known that herbal medicines can help protect the kidneys, reverse kidney damage, and assist in the management and reduction of symptoms – there are literally umpteen herbs to choose from. But ginger, before this study, has not really been regarded as one of them (traditional chinese medicine has used ginger to varying degrees for kidney complaints, but in a limited capacity compared to other herbal medicines).
The study led by Shanmugam Ramdudu PhD, together with five other scientists, set out to investigate the renal protective effects of ginger against alcohol-induced oxidative stress and tissue damage. Knowing that alcohol consumption is widespread across the world, causing many diseases, and the over production of oxidative stress, the scientists considered what impact this may have on the kidneys (a major detoxifying organ), and if the herb ginger may lend a solution to this problem.
The scientists decided on ginger as they had recently completed a study proving its benefits for protecting the liver. Not only this, but in recent times ginger has been subject to countless other studies for the treatment and management of diseases, such as: cataracts, stroke, rheumatism, diabetes, neural disorders, and asthma!
The Scientific Method
The scientists used twenty four Wistar rats (aged 6 months) to conduct the study, which were divided up into four distinct groups:
1. Normal control group (Nc): feed a normal diet
2. Ginger treated group (Gt): given a ginger extract (equiv. 200mg/kg body weight) everyday for 30 days
3. Alcohol treated group (At): given 20% alcohol (equiv. 2g/kg body weight) everyday for 30 days
4. Alcohol plus ginger treated group (At + Gt): alcohol and ginger in the same dosages described above, everyday for 30 days. Alcohol was given first, followed by the ginger extract 5 minutes later.
Immediately after the final dosage, the scientists measured the following parameters: superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidise (GPx), and glutathione reductase (GR); all powerful antioxidants enzymes used by the body to quench free radical damage and protect the kidneys.
The following is a summary of the impressive results attained:
Fast-food. I know it sure is convenient, and there sure is something satisfying about hoeing into your favourite fast-food. But the fact of the matter is, that fast food is, well, garbage. Shocked? I’m sure.
*Sheepishly* For me, my weakness is fish and chips. Can’t get enough of that golden fried goodness :-). Though I am pleased to tell you I am on a 12 step program and my intake is down to only once a month – for those brave enough, I would love to hear what your vice is in the comment section below.
Of course not all fast-food is evil, but a study undertaken from the good people at The Division of Nephrology at MetroHealth Medical Centre in Cleveland, Ohio have sure made it look so (especially for those suffering from kidney disease).
The scientists wanted to see whether fast-food meals were compatible, at all, to the requirements of a healthy kidney disease diet. The four main nutritional requirements to take into consideration for a kidney disease diet are: potassium, protein, phosphorous and sodium.
They performed quite an intensive investigation, spanning 15 major fast-food chains. Examining ingredient lists and nutritional meal profiles, the scientists were able to accurately assess the levels of potassium, protein, phosphorous and sodium in each of the meals and side-dishes that each of the fast-food chains offer. There were 804 meals and 163 side-dishes in total.
You ready for the scary part (the results)?
Out of the 804 meals only 16% of them were deemed OK on all counts! The side-dishes only slightly better coming in at 17%.
Also, there were no acceptable meals at 3 fast-food chains, and no acceptable side-dishes at 5 fast-food chains.
Chicken, the second most consumed ‘meat’ in the world – after goat – and has sparked the interests of the folk from The Ethics Committee at the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre in Brazil. After running extensive tests (over three years) the scientists have found that this feathered medium sized, relatively flightless bird (fowl), is the animal-protein source of choice for those with diabetic kidney problems (=diabetic nephropathy), and is comparable to its traditional treatment of Enalpril (=ACE inhibitor).
The benefits of low protein diets in chronic renal failure has become well documented, but now this study has shed some light on the fact that not all protein is created equal and a change of diet could prove just as powerful as a western medical drug. Here is how it all came about…
5 scientists in Brazil assembled a group of 28 outpatients with type 2 diabetes and microalbuminuria – Microalbuminuria is where the kidneys leak small amounts of protein (albumin), this is a risk factor for the development of more advanced stages of diabetic nephropathy – the age of the patients were aged between 30 and 75 years of age and being treated with insulin.
Two treatments were randomly selected for each patient:
1. Experimental chicken diet for 12 months: Patients continued to eat the same amount of protein they were before the test, but replaced all meat with skinless chicken meat.
2. Enalapril (10mg/day) for 12 months: ACE inhibitors are the traditionally the first line treatment for diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy is simply kidney disease as a result of diabetes and can affect up to 40% of patients!
In a major collaborative study between Harvard Stem Cell Institute, the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, the Brigham and Woman’s Hospital, and the University of Pittsburgh, researchers may have just stumbled across a kidney disease cure while exploring fish!
This amazing news will create much hope for millions of people right across the world suffering from kidney disease, and it is something I will definitely keep a close eye on for you all.
Aside from dialysis and kidney transplants, the medical community have not yet been able to find a cure, or anything that comes close as a ‘real’ treatment (unlike natural therapies that currently leads the way).
So for me this exciting, we may very well be at a point in history where we can blend the very best of western medicine, and natural medicine, to help people right across the world with kidney problems.
So What Is The Research, And What Is It Showing?
Well researchers have identified a cell in Zebrafish that has the ability, once transplanted, to regenerate nephrons from one fish to another (Wow), and therefore increase kidney function.
A fact that many people don’t know, is that many non-mammals (e.g. fish) have the capacity to continually generate new healthy kidney cells (nephrons) right through their life; human beings and other mammals on the other hand do not continually generate new kidney cells.
A long, long time ago when man was inventing the wheel… nature provided us with pristine surroundings and atmosphere. We drank from the crystal blue waters, ate ‘organic’ fruit and vegetables, and rested in unspoiled lands.
…How so much is changed. Yes, we have progressed in terms of no longer defecating where we eat. Instead we have raped and pillaged all of the earth; her rivers, lakes, oceans, forests, deserts, and anywhere else we can find*.
As a consequence we now live in a toxic environment that compared to 100 years ago, would completely exceed imagination. Lift a bottle of water to our mouth… bring in dangerous xenoestrogen plastics. Apply our daily antiperspirant… introduce the heavy metal aluminium. Breathe in a full breath… hello arsenic.
Before this turns in to one of those “the sky is falling” type blog posts, let me digress and say:
“Whether you like it or not, your environment is affecting your health; but you do have the power to control it.”
And one of the biggest problematic elements found on earth for kidney sufferers is the heavy metal cadmium. Cadmium is one of the ‘big’ four heavy metals that are associated with the biggest threats to human health. The other three include: lead, mercury, and arsenic.
Heavy metals are routinely studied by large international bodies (such as the World Health Organisation – WHO) to determine their affects on human health. As such, much data and evidence has shown that these heavy metals exert powerful, though destructive, biological effects on the human body.
Cadmium in particular is an easy one to be exposed to due to the nature in which it is used. Nickel-cadmium batteries are mass produced and shipped to all four corners of the Earth – where you are probably using some right now. Cadmium industrial emissions are also very high, due to the fact that most cadmium products are uncommonly recycled. And cadmium exposure is profoundly increased in those who smoke cigarettes (cadmium is found in tobacco).
So What Are The Main Sources of Cadmium?
• Cigarette smoke (inc. passive smoking)
• Batteries (nickel-cadmium)
• Evaporated milk
• Electroplating (Electronics)
• Drinking water (galvanised pipes)
• Phosphate fertilisers
• Breathing contaminated air in the workplace
• Plumbing alloys
• Photographic chemicals
I am sure you are wondering by now…
“So How Does Cadmium Affect The Kidneys?”
Well, studies have shown that long-term exposure to cadmium via the food, water, or air, builds up in the kidneys and can possibly cause kidney disease and kidney failure via a number of pathways. A 2003 study in New Zealand (using mice) showed that in as quickly as 4 weeks of exposure there was an increase in antinuclear antibodies (=immune system). And on top of that, after 31 weeks on a low dose, increases in IgG2a (=immune system) were also noted. This brought about increased levels of protein in the urine and continued presence of immune bodies in the kidneys; indicating a kidney linked auto-immune disease (e.g. glomerulonephritis).