Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): Ayurvedic Treatment, Causes, & Symptoms

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is a genetic disease. It is a condition where many cysts grow inside or, at times, on the surface of the kidneys. As per Ayurvedic view, the balance of three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) drives the Kidney’s function in the body. However, if people suffer an imbalance of these doshas, kidney cyst or Gurda Granthi is formed. PKD varies in severity but the complications are preventable.

According to Ayurveda, the problem arises in the body due to undisciplined lifestyle, inadequate diet and lack of physical activity. Polycystic kidney disease treatment in ayurveda can help you regulate PKD. Polycystic kidney disease ayurvedic treatment suggests lifestyle changes that might help you reduce damage to your kidneys from severe complications.

PKD or Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic condition. A congenital disease is caused due to change in the DNA sequence away from the normal sequence. PKD leads the cysts to grow inside the kidneys. The growth of cysts increases the size of the kidneys and damages the tissues that the kidneys are made of. Polycystic kidney disease can also be the cause of chronic kidney disease. This, in the future, can be the reason for kidney failure or end-stage renal disease (ESRD).

Polycystic kidney diseases are of two types:

  • Autosomal dominant PKD
  • Autosomal recessive PKD.

Autosomal dominant PKD (ADPKD)

It is a condition where the growth of cysts is only limited to the site of the kidneys. This is also known as “Adult PKD,”. Adult PKD has been named because people with this type of disease might not notice any symptoms until they are 30 to 50 years old.

Autosomal recessive PKD (ARPKD)

Autosomal recessive PKD is also known as “Infantile PKD”. It is called infantile PKD because this condition has been observed in babies in their first few months or even before birth. It is a condition where the growth of cysts is found in both the kidneys and the liver.

What are cysts?

Cysts are sac-like pockets of membranous tissue containing fluid, air, or other substances. It has been observed that people with PKD develop many cysts inside their kidneys. The growth of these cysts makes the kidneys much larger than their actual size. These cysts grow from tiny filters (nephrons) in the kidneys. It has been observed that people with PKD can have thousands of cysts in their kidneys at once. A kidney with PKD can weigh up to 30 pounds.

What are the commonly observed causes of Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)?

Since PKD is a genetically inherited disease, it must be inherited from a parent or both. It can be observed in people of any gender, age, race, ethnicity, and nationality. It is a fact that if your blood relative is carrying PKD, you also have the probability of developing PKD or carrying the genes causing it.

It must be noted that if you are not showing the signs and symptoms of PKD but carrying the genes that cause PKD, then you are called a carrier. This condition is possible in the case of autosomal recessive PKD.

Can we prevent ourselves from PKD?

It is discouraging to know that it is not possible to prevent ourselves from either type of PKD. But the other side of the coin says that if you have PKD, you can keep your kidneys working longer by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Some tips for healthy living include:

  • Stop Smoking
  • Reduce the use of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
  • Regular Exercise.
  • Adopting a low-fat and low-salt diet.
  • Maintain adequate blood pressure levels.
  • Maintain adequate blood sugar levels.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Limit alcohol intake.

How is Acquired Cystic Kidney Disease (ACKD) different from PKD?

It must be noted that ACKD is not a type of PKD. Although in ACKD also, cysts develop inside the kidneys as PKD does, people with ACKD are not born with it. ACKD is caused by chronic kidney disease or End-stage kidney failure.

ACKD is more commonly observed in people who have been carrying kidney disease for a long time. It occurs most often in people who are undergoing dialysis. We must also remember that these cysts are not caused by dialysis treatments.

What are the causes of Autosomal Dominant PKD?

ADPKD is caused due to a specific gene that has been inherited from a parent carrying ADPKD. But it also has been observed that this genetic problem can sometimes happen independently. In such cases, the child is born with ADPKD even when neither parent carries it. (This is the rarest condition and occurs in only 1 out of every 10 cases of ADPKD.)

How to identify the symptoms of ADPKD?

It has been seen that children show symptoms much earlier than adults. The symptoms commonly observed are:

  • Back and side pain
  • Blood in your urine
  • Headaches

These are the most commonly observed but overlapping symptoms with many other diseases.

To confirm the possibility of PKD, your health care provider may want you to take one or more of the following tests:

  • Imaging tests, like ultrasonography (USG), CT scans, and MRI scans
  • Genetic tests to assess the presence of disease-carrying gene using the sample of your blood or saliva

These imaging tests are done to identify the presence of visible signs of cysts in your kidneys, while the genetic tests tell the type of PKD you have or if you can develop this disease in the future. Genetic tests are not easy and quick and thus take time to confirm.

What are the common complications associated with ADPKD?

Kidney pain and high blood pressure are commonly observed in people with ADPKD. Other complications associated with ADPKD are:

  • Brain aneurysms
  • Colon problems
  • Pancreatic Cysts
  • Problems in Valves of Heart
  • Kidney failure or ESRD
  • Kidney stones
  • Liver cysts
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Preeclampsia is also commonly found in pregnant women who have ADPKD.

What is the treatment available for ADPKD?

As such, there is no confirmed cure for ADPKD, but things have been reported that slow down the progression of ADPKD to kidney failure. You must consult your doctor to suggest ways to manage your condition.

What are the probable causes for Autosomal Recessive PKD (ARPKD)?

ARPKD is also an inherited disease. In this condition, the child is born with the disease when both parents are carriers of the gene causing it. The disease usually does not affect each generation of a family.

How to check if I am a carrier?

Genetic testing is the only way to know the presence of the gene that causes ARPKD. Tests are done with your blood or saliva samples. These tests check the presence of a specific gene called PKHD1. If you show the presence of this gene but do not show the symptoms of ARPKD, you are considered a carrier.

How to know the presence of ARPKD in my child?

Signs and symptoms of ARPKD can be easily assessed before the child’s birth. Pregnant women undergo regular ultrasounds, and these ultrasound images can show increased kidney size than normal ones.

Another quickly observed sign of ARPKD is a lack of amniotic fluid in the womb. Babies with ARPKD have damaged kidneys, and their kidneys are not able to make enough amniotic fluid. Ultrasound images indicate the presence of a little amount of amniotic fluid around the baby.

Other few commonly observed symptoms in babies born with ARPKD include:

  • Breathing issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems/ improper growth of baby’s face and limbs
  • Swollen belly
  • Vomiting after feeding

Children with ARPKD at times do not show any symptoms, while the cases of severe ARPKD may indicate problems in kidney and liver problems, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • UTIs
  • Back or side pain
  • Varicose veins
  • Lower than average height and weight

What are the complications of ARPKD?

The complications observed in children depend upon the severity of the disease. The disease severely affects children who show symptoms before birth. Babies born with severe ARPKD may die within a few hours or days of birth.

Children with ARPKD may also show the following complications:

  • Kidney failure before adulthood
  • Liver damage
  • Hypertension
  • UTIs

What is the treatment for ARPKD?

ARPKD is not curable. Treatment here mainly focuses on managing symptoms and complications. The treatment is usually dependent upon the severity of the disease and includes:

  • Dialysis (peritoneal or hemodialysis)
  • Hypertension medicine
  • Antibiotics
  • Liver and kidney transplant

What is the role of Ayurveda in PKD?

Ayurveda suggests a healthy lifestyle that makes your life stress free and happy and also helps in controlling PKD or any other disease. There are various herbs and medications proven to extend the life of renal patients. Ayurveda works to improve the health of the diseased body organ. It also works to improve the immunity of the body to fight against diseases. The various herbs that are used in certain combinations for treating kidney patients are Gokshura, Guggul, Haridra, Vijayasar etc. There are many more herbs like these to add to the list. These all are mixed in certain proportions depending on the kind and type of disease.

These are general guidelines to keep you healthy and fit.

  1. If you are suffering from diabetes, you must control your blood sugar level.
  2. Eat fresh fibre-rich vegetables, and fruits.
  3. A low fat and low sodium diet will help to control your blood pressure.
  4. Adequate amount of water to keep the body cells toxin-free.
  5. Exercise daily (at least 30 minutes)
  6. Manage a healthy weight.
  7. Avoid smoking and avoid alcohol consumption.
  8. Detoxify the body with natural/herbal ingredients.
  9. Try to avoid or reduce non-vegetarian and dairy products in your diet.

By now, we are able to get a touch about the PKD and the various ways to regulate it for a healthy and happy life. Any of the above mentioned herbs or medicines must be used under proper medical supervision.

Disclaimer: Polycystic Kidney infection is a progressive condition that needs to be controlled in time. We recommend opting for Ayurveda for the genuine revival of the capabilities. If you are already pursuing a treatment, we strictly advise you not to make any changes in your schedule or diet without consulting your doctor or dietitian. For further advice, you can use this helpline: +91-9871712050 number or visit www.karmaayurvedahospital.com.

American Kidney Fund, Inc: “Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) symptoms, treatments & causes” (https://www.kidneyfund.org/all-about-kidneys/types-kidney-diseases/polycystic-kidney-disease)