Signs You Need a Kidney Cleanse

May 6, 2020
Signs You Need a Kidney Cleanse - Ann Louise Gittlemance

From fatigue to fluid retention, frequent infections and bouts with kidney stones, your kidneys may be trying to tell you it’s time to clean house!

As I wrote about in my last post, our lungs are the #1 predictor of mortality, but it’s equally important that we pay close attention to the health of our kidneys. Here’s why.

As far as organs go, we don’t really give our kidneys much attention until something goes wrong. We are careful to cleanse the liver every season, we eat right for heart health, we avoid smoking to protect our lungs, we take supplements to boost brain power, all while the kidneys are quietly in the background performing some of the most important tasks our bodies need.

These precious bean-shaped organs maintain homeostasis in the body, which means they keep everything in balance – especially in the blood – by regulating electrolyte minerals, water volume, blood pressure, your body’s acid/alkaline balance, hormones traveling through the bloodstream, and filter the toxins and waste products from your blood. In fact, your kidneys filter your entire blood volume so many times during one day that it’s the equivalent of about 200 quarts of blood, and approximately 2 quarts of water and waste gets filtered out. Your kidneys also make several essential hormones that do everything from stimulating the production of red blood cells to regulating blood pressure, activating vitamin D, and even controlling calcium metabolism.

Your kidneys don’t like to complain, but they will if pushed too far. Sometimes even our best intentions to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle backfire on us and put stress on the kidneys. When this happens, we can feel fatigue, bloating, belly pain, joint pains, backaches, headaches, muscle stiffness, water retention (especially in hands and feet), insomnia, have unexplained vulvar or vaginal pain, itchy skin and/or rashes (including eczema), and even progress to kidney stones or signs of infection. If any of this sounds like you, rest assured there’s plenty you can do to relieve the toxic strain and drain on your kidneys and nourish them back to health – and it starts with finding out if oxalates are your issue.

The “Healthy” Toxin Hiding in Plain Sight

My dear friend Anne thought she was doing everything right – green smoothies in the morning, snacks of avocado and nuts, and lots of leafy greens throughout the day. But she was suffering with fatigue, headaches, joint pains, and bloating after meals. A full workup, including extensive thyroid labs, gave her a clean bill of health and left her wondering why she felt so bad, so she asked my opinion. I knew right away the problem had to do with excess oxalates.

Oxalates are what I call an anti-nutrient, found in the foods we consider the healthiest – spinach, kale, beets, chard, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, nuts, avocado, and citrus, to name a few. When oxalates build up, they prevent cells from producing ATP, the body’s main energy molecule. They also bind minerals like calcium and cause inflammation, mineral imbalance, kidney stones, and mitochondrial dysfunction, and impair the functioning of the kidneys and the gut. When it comes to the inflammation it causes in the gut, it creates a vicious cycle – an inflamed intestinal lining will increase your absorption of oxalates, as well as other toxins.

Anne immediately went on a low oxalate diet and was thrilled when her symptoms started resolving in a matter of days. Because oxalates build up in your tissues, it’s important to not eliminate them entirely at first, or you’ll flush too much at once and not feel well. Eating foods rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium is also important in healing from oxalate toxicity, so your kidneys can restore these important electrolyte levels in your cells.

Once your oxalate levels are under control, it’s time to flush your kidneys with plenty of clean, filtered water and nourishing herbs.

5 Herbs to Cleanse and Nourish Your Kidneys

It’s a full-time job for our kidneys to process all of the chemicals we come in contact with every day. When your kidneys get overloaded with all of the beauty chemicals, medications, processed foods, preservatives, pesticides, cleaning products, and other pollutants, it’s time to cleanse and nourish them before they can’t handle it all and symptoms arise.

Start by eliminating as many of the toxins in your environment as you can. My Fat Flush plan can help, if you need a place to start. This lifestyle plan was created to help you detox everything from your diet to your home, and rebuild healthy cells with clean, nutrient-dense foods and beverages. My book made headlines in the NY Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and the Wall Street Journal due to the phenomenol weight loss success experienced by millions (and quite a few celebrities). The detox advantages are equally as important and should not be overlooked.

When fatigue, swollen ankles, urinary tract infections and other signs of kidney stress show up, it’s time to cleanse and nourish your kidneys. Along with plenty of clean, filtered water with a slice of organic lemon, here are my Top 5 Kidney Cleansing Herbs.


Cranberries are the superfood for your entire urinary tract. They help flush toxins like uric acid from your body, bind infection-causing E. coli bacteria and flush it out, and contain key nutrients like quercetin, manganese, and vitamins C, E, and K. My signature cran-water is staple not only for kidney cleansing but for weight loss as well, as millions of my Fat Flushers would be happy to confirm.


If you’re experiencing swelling of your hands, ankles and feet after a long day or eating something salty, then dandelion leaf is your go-to herb. Dandelion not only helps flush the fluid, but replenishes the potassium that is normally lost when taking a diuretic. Fresh young leaves (that haven’t been sprayed with herbicide) can be eaten in salads or juiced, and the dried root can be made into a delicious “dandy” tea.


If cranberries are the superfood for the urinary tract, then nettles are the super-herb. Nettle leaf has been used for centuries to support urinary health during urinary tract infections and kidney stones, and the root is a popular prostate health supplement. Nettles are rich in the kidney-loving electrolytes calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus, as well as vitamins A, C, K, and several of the B’s, plus essential fatty acids. It is most nourishing for kidneys in tea or infusion form.

Marshmallow Root

This herb is one of the most soothing herbs you can take for the mucus membranes and tissues in your gut and urinary tract. Not at all related to the sweet confection, it decreases inflammation while it increases urination, and can ease the passage of gravel and stones. Prepared into a tea, the root dissolves slightly to thicken the tea and calm inflamed tissues.

Corn Silk

The next time you buy organic corn on the cob, save the tender green strands of silk and use them to brew a kidney cleansing tea. Corn silk is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that has been used for centuries to balance urinary pH, restore mineral and electrolyte balance, reduce inflammation in the urinary tract and prostate, relieve kidney stone irritation, and help with bedwetting. It is best taken in tea or tincture form.


Have you tried my Fat Flush diet yet? How is it going? Would love to know YOUR feedback! I invite you to comment below.

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. LaVerne B

    Great to know about these herbs. I do have a history of kidney disease in my family.

  2. Netti

    Good to know that cranberry is so helpful for the kidneys. I’m on the Fat Flush Plan and drinking lots of cranwater.

  3. Michele

    Oxalates may be creating a problem for me. I didn’t know anything about these foods before. I will try limiting the foods on this list and see if that helps the pain in my hands. Thanks



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