The Urinary System

kidney chart

Some individuals may be hesitant to discuss any excretory function of the body, including, of course, the urinary system. However, with increased understanding, it becomes apparent that such reticence is unwarranted.

In fact, in some areas of the world, urine is considered a medicine for eye disease and earache. Why "urine therapy" is practiced may make more sense as this "despised" waste product of the body is better understood from scientific analysis of the suspected healing compounds it contains!

Let's begin our overview with this question: "Why does the body need to excrete liquid waste separately, when apparently the bowels and perspiration should be sufficient?"

The basic function of the kidneys is to constantly monitor the blood and make adjustments to its viscosity (relative thickness], chemistry and pH. These and other kidney functions are clearly beyond the capabilities of the bowel or skin.

"Toxic blood" may be compared to "dirty oil" in an automobile engine in the sense that it causes excessive 'engine wear" in the body, In fact, dealing with an overload of toxins in the blood, and billions of voracious microbes that thrive on those toxins, can wear out the immune system.

If one fails to drink sufficient water, the kidneys will slow down their purifying activities because the blood becomes too thick. Over time, organic compounds may tend to settle out of solution and form "gravel" or stones. Such stones may also occur because of an individual's genetic makeup, or in individuals lacking minerals like magnesium.

If the kidneys stop working, blood pressure becomes disturbed, ammonia and other chemical buildups may lead to mental problems, body tissues may swell (edema), and body functions will slow down. Prolonged kidney failure ultimately ends in death.

kidney function chart

Kidney Function

The kidneys are located near the center of your back. You have two kidneys, effectively giving you a "spare" kidney should the other ever fail. Each kidney is only four inches long, two inches wide and an inch thick, but it contains miles of capillaries (micro-sized blood vessels) and tiny tubes. In 24 hours, a kidney can filter about 180 quarts of blood.

There are several sensitive and precise "feedback systems" within the body at large-including hormone and nerve response-that employ a complex process to signal the kidneys when to take action, and what action to take. The whole body works together, requiring a total or holistic approach when dealing with any specific breakdown or healing of the urinary system.

Each bean-shaped kidney is embedded in fat and fibrous connective tissue for protection. Together, kidneys contain about 2.4 million "nephrons," tiny filtration units that, if stretched end-to-end, would measure 50 miles long! The nephrons filter, secrete, and reabsorb various elements from the blood. Usually, about 99% of the blood's water is reabsorbed by nearby tubules; less is reabsorbed if the body has excess water.

While the feces excrete mainly fat-soluble toxins, the kidneys excrete those that are water-soluble.

More than half of the body's water is inside the cells. The rest is mixed with salt (rather like diluted sea water), which then bathes the cells.

The concentration of salt must be just right: too much, and the cell will absorb too much water; not enough, and the cell may shrink. Balancing antagonistic salt/potassium levels exactly right is just one of the functions of the kidneys.

Since blood is about half water, kidney excretion helps control total blood pressure. It also helps control excessive glucose (blood sugar used for energy), mineral imbalances, wastes from muscle metabolism, and urea from protein breakdown. Kidneys perform other tasks, too.

In summary, the kidneys have three main functions: 1 ) they help control concentrations of body fluids, 2) they rid the body of unwanted soluble waste, and 3) they help regulate a proper acid-alkaline environment in the body for proper chemical reactions; even small variances may result in death.

Bladder Functions

As each tubule in the kidney produces urine, the urine drains into two major ducts called "ureters," which lead to a holding sac-the bladder. An adult's bladder can hold as much as one pint of urine.

If an individual does not drink sufficient water to dilute urine, or does not void the urine often enough, the bladder may become irritated, inflamed and even infected. While urine is relatively sterile in a healthy person, it is extremely susceptible to bacterial invasion and should be expelled several times a day.

Normal expulsion is about two pints per day.

Micturition is the medical term for emptying the bladder. When the bladder fills, tension from the liquid rises to a threshold that triggers the sensation to void. A sphincter muscle holds the liquid until signaled to relax, allowing the urine to pass out another tube called the urethra. The bladder then "wrings itself out" by contracting bands of muscles that surround it.

What about Diuretics

Certain chemicals occurring naturally in plants or manufactured in laboratories act to prevent normal kidney reabsorption of water taken from the blood. Because diuretic drugs can be harsh or overstimulating, usable minerals and other compounds are not reabsorbed as they would be under normal conditions; hence, they are lost in the urine.

This means that a person taking diuretic drugs, all of which can be relatively dangerous for long-term use, should also take supplements like potassium to maintain healthful levels of the elements being lost. If you have such concerns, please contact your health care professional.

Mother Nature provides milder dietary diuretics (fruits, for example). Potassium and other nutrients lost in the urine are often provided by these natural diuretics, which are also much safer than the diuretic drugs.

How much should you drink?

The body eliminates three quarts of water each day, and this must be replaced by drinking or eating. The average daily requirement for water is six to eight glasses per day depending on the climate, activity level and general health of the individual.

Read more about How Your Urinary System Affects Your Overall Health.

Most Popular Natural Solutions for Urinary Problems

Cornsilk - Used for bedwetting, incontinence, leakage, strengthening the bladder - soothing and helpful for many urinary problems.

Cranberry & Buchu Concentrate - Recent research suggests that cranberry helps to prevent urinary tract infections caused by E. coli bacteria, particularly in people with a history of recurrent infections

Hydrangea - arthritis, gout, kidney and bladder problems, kidney stones and gallstones

JP-X - kidney problems, bladder infection, urinary tract infection, cystitis

Kidney Activator - was specifically designed to provide nutrients necessary for optimal kidney function, kidney weakness, bladder infections and scant urine.

Urinary Maintenance - A nutrient and herbal formula designed for the urinary system - very effective for many kidney and bladder problems.