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INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE KIDNEYS & THE BLADDER

Medicinal plants for the kidneys, urinary tract and bladder, and vital substances with a well-documented effect on the immune system, the mucous membranes and cell protection

Pumpkin seeds:

The pumpkin is an old crop plant and medicinal plant. It originated in America but it is now cultivated worldwide. The seeds of the “Styrian Oil Pumpkin”, a special variety of the garden pumpkin (Cucurbita pepa L.), have proven their worth for medicinal use. Among the valuable ingredients of pumpkin seeds are phytosterols and vitamin E. Their use as a herbal medicine for strengthening the bladder muscles and providing support in prostate complaints, complaints when passing urine and irritable bladder, is scientifically proven.

Saw palmetto fruits:

The saw palmetto (Sabal serrulata) is a palm tree that grows like a bush. It is found on the coasts of North America, in Florida, South Carolina and Southern California. The brownish-black, ripe, dried drupes have long been used as a mild remedy. They contain high-quality oils which are characterised by a high content of secondary phytochemicals such as phytosterols (ß-sitosterol and ß-glycosides), polysaccharides, flavonoids and carotenoids. These support a normal bladder function and facilitate urine flow. For that reason, saw palmetto fruits are used to strengthen the bladder function.

Bearberry leaves:

The bearberry (Arcostaphylis uva-ursi) has been known as a medicinal plant for approx. 1,000 years. It belongs to the Ericaceae family. The small shrub with its red fruits grows mainly in Central and Northern Europe on heaths and in moors. It is the leaves of the bearberry plant which are used for medicinal purposes. They contain tannins, flavonoids and glycosides. The effect of the bearberry leaves as a urinary disinfectant is mainly due to the phytochemical arbutin. Arbutin releases hydroquinone in the human body, which is excreted with the urine and can therefore develop its effect as a disinfectant in the urinary tract.

Birch leaves:

The leaves of the moor birch (Betula pubescens) and the silver birch (Betula pendula) are used for medicinal purposes. They contain flavonoids and have a draining effect which is used to purge the urinary pathways.

Vitamin A contributes to the preservation of normal mucous membranes. The bladder is lined with a mucous membrane. The water-soluble vitamins niacin and riboflavin (vitamin B2) also contribute to the preservation of normal mucous membranes, like the fat-soluble vitamin A.

A strong immune system is of vital importance for a healthy bladder and healthy kidneys. The vital substances vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, selenium and zinc contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system. A strong immune system and intact mucous membranes also require the protection of cells from free radicals, as cell protection is also important for the kidneys and the urinary tract. vitamins E, C and B2 as well as the trace elements selenium and zinc contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress – this is scientifically proven.

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Interesting facts about the bladder and the kidneys

The bladder is a very flexible organ that forms part of the urinary tract. In the bladder, urine is collected from the kidneys. As the amount of urine inside the bladder increases, nerve impulses transmit information about how full the bladder is to the brain. This is where a corresponding reflex to empty the bladder is triggered.

Normally, the stimulus is suppressed until a favourable opportunity for emptying the bladder arises. Then the muscles in the bladder wall are contracted and the urine is emptied through the urethra. In adults, the maximum urinary bladder capacity ranges between about 600 and 1,500 ml. Adults feel the need to urinate when the bladder contains approximately 300-500 ml of urine. Due to a number of external and internal stimuli, the urge to urinate or even an involuntary emptying of the bladder (urinary incontinence) may occur, even when the bladder contains considerably lower amounts of urine.

The kidneys are located at waist height, to the left and right of the lumbar spine, and are protected by fatty tissue. They are about six centimetres wide, eleven centimetres long, and 2.5 cm thick. They are shaped like kidney beans (as the name suggests!) and weigh 120 to 200 grams. Each kidney consists of a “working tissue” and a drainage system. There are approximately 1 million renal corpuscles in the working tissue. They ensure that the blood is “washed” and that any substances that the body can no longer metabolise (e.g. uric acid or urea) are excreted with the urine. At the same time, the renal corpuscles ensure that valuable substances such as sugar molecules, electrolytes and water find their way back into the blood.

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What is meant by urinary incontinence?

The term “urinary incontinence” refers to the inability to control the process of emptying the bladder. In Germany alone, as many as 5-7 million people are affected. The bladder is emptied as a result of a complex interplay between the voluntarily controlled nervous system and the various muscles of the bladder.The bladder is emptied as a result of a complex interplay between the voluntarily controlled nervous system and the various muscles of the bladder. Dysfunctions of the interaction between the bladder muscles, sphincter functions and nerve impulses lead to a severe urge to urinate, and often to unintended loss of urine.

Bladder weakness can occur in various forms:

Stress incontinence is the loss of small to large amounts of urine due to physical stress (e.g., coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or exercise), which is the result of the pelvic floor muscles being too weak.

Urge incontinence occurs when urination is involuntary. It is due to overactive bladder muscles that constantly contract, signalling a full bladder.

Overflow incontinence is where the urine cannot be discharged properly due to an obstacle behind the bladder, so that the bladder eventually “overflows”. Other causes may be damage to the nervous system (due to diabetes mellitus, alcohol abuse) or an enlarged prostate.

Irritable (nervous or overactive) bladder is a collective term for a number of bladder dysfunctions with different causes. It especially effects women between 30 and 50 years of age. Patients report a constant urge to urinate, although only small amounts of urine are excreted.

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Tips for a healthy kidney function

Drinking sufficient liquids: Every day, around 2 litres (four pints) of fluid should be consumed, in order to purge the kidneys properly and flush out bacteria. Suitable drinks include fruit and herbal teas, mineral water or spritzers – or, of course, tap water, which is generally of good quality. Diluted urine irritates mucous membranes less than concentrated urine.

Elderly people often struggle to drink enough. A drinking protocol can help to better calculate the amount of liquid consumed. Every once in a while, a delicious soup may also be put on the menu in order to improve liquid intake.


 

Alcohol in moderation:

Alcohol influences the renal function greatly and should therefore be consumed in moderation.

Protecting the kidneys and the bladder:

Especially during the cold season it is recommended to protect the bladder and the kidneys from draughts and hypothermia. Cold feet should always be kept warm and a wet bathing suit should be changed after a swim. This helps to prevent painful inflammation.

Eating a diet rich in vital substances:

Foodstuffs containing large amounts of antioxidants such as vitamin C can protect the natural resilience of the urinary tract system against heavy stress. Good sources of vitamin C include peppers, citrus fruits, sea buckthorn, cranberry, aronia or acerola.

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