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Sign of Kidney Infection: The Alternative Medicine Perspective

Todd Luger, LAc

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Sign of Kidney Infection
Todd Luger, LAc

An Important Sign of Kidney Infection is Back Pain

Kidney infection is typically the result of an untreated urinary or bladder infection that has spread. Urinary tract infections are so common in women, as are yeast infections, that they are not always treated in a timely fashion. Some women have had success in their own estimates using things like cranberry juice at the first sign of infection. However since many such women just use commercial corn syrup sweetened juice, it seems unlikely to me that this is a true therapeutic effect. In all likelihood, the use of cranberry juice has little effect and women who avoid infection in such cases are generally also doing other things, like drinking large amounts of fresh water, avoiding sexual contact, etc.

However, in situations where the bacteria is very strong, measures such as these will generally not be effective. This may allow an untreated condition to progress. When I have patients present with urinary symptoms, I always look for a sign of kidney infection. The most typical one is low back or flank pain that came on with or soon after the urinary problem. However, many cases do not present with urinary symptoms at all. A kidney infection is a serious matter, with serious complications. Under most circumstances, kidney infections should be treated with antibiotics. Under no circumstances should a layperson try to treat their own kidney infection with herbs. If pain gets severe or fever occurs, an urgent care visit is recommended.

However that being said, a professional herbalist may be able to treat this condition effectively at the first sign of kidney infection, before fever is present. If so, seek out someone who is trained and licensed or with whom you have already developed a trust. Board certified chinese herbalists, nationally certified Naturopathic physicians and members of the American Herbalists Guild or British Registry of Herbalists are your best bets. Many chinese herbs have antibiotic effects and low back pain is recorded in traditional texts as a symptom that could indicate the use of such herbs. However treatment must be aggressive. If you already have sudden onset back pain with chills and fever, go to the emergency room

While few, if any, bacteria are known to have developed resistance against herbal antibiotics, they are mild and must be used in high doses. These doses are typically too high for a layperson to administer safely. In most cases, this will necessitate the use of very strong and foul tasting teas prepared at home by the patient or expensive freeze dried versions made in Japanese laboratories. It is unlikely that most chinese herb products available in pill or capsule form would be strong enough to be effective for a true kidney infection. An herbalist who recommends such mild approaches when there is a sign of kidney infection probably does not have adequate experience in the treatment of this ailment. In any case where symptoms worsen in a short time or do not improve in a week, seeking conventional medical care is strongly advised.

Todd Luger, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist, has 14 years of clinical experience in Chinese Medicine, focused on chronic pain and illness, has been a professor of Herbology and Clinical Medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine since 2000, and is director of the Chinese Herb Academy. You can read more of his articles on, at the Chinese Herb Academy, or on his Health Weblog.
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