Hydrangeas are a popular garden staple with their big, beautiful blooms and eye-popping colors. But are they even cooler underneath the soil?
For hundreds of years, hydrangea root has been used in alternative medicine. It’s been used as an herbal remedy for urinary infections, kidney stones, and other probs. But is this actually a legit treatment? Let’s get down to the *root* of the matter.
What’s the deal with hydrangea root?
Hydrangeas are native to North America and some parts of Asia, and there are over 70 species in the hydrangea, or Hydrangeaceae, family. But only some of these species are used for medicinal purposes (like H. paniculata, H. macrophylla, and H. arborescens).
What is hydrangea root? Hydrangea root is a supplement that’s made from (you guessed it!) the hydrangea plant’s roots and underground stems (aka rhizomes).
What might hydrangea root treat? This root is traditionally used for a variety of things (like a treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs), reducing inflammation, and improving kidney health).
Does hydrangea root work? There’s some evidence that hydrangea root can be effective in mice. But there’s not any proof that it’ll work for humans.
Is hydrangea root safe to try? There also isn’t much evidence on whether hydrangea root is safe for humans. You could experience side effects like nausea or an allergic reaction, so it’s prob best to skip this remedy until there’s more research.
There’s not much scientific evidence to back up hydrangea root’s medicinal qualities. Some animal and test tube studies suggest that certain compounds in the root may have benefits, but there isn’t any research available on the root’s effect on humans.
1. Soothing symptoms of urinary, bladder, or prostate infections
For centuries, traditional folk medicine has relied on hydrangea root to treat UTIs, bladder infections, and prostate infections. Why? Because there’s a belief that the root might have a diuretic effect. (That means it makes you pee more.) And there’s also a belief that this effect could help ease these problems.
But there isn’t any scientific evidence to support this theory yet.
2. Providing protection for your kidneys
While there aren’t any human studies to back up this claim, some animal studies suggest that hydrangea root may promote kidney health.
- One recent study found that hydrangea extract helped reduce blood urea nitrogen (BUN) in diabetic rats. That’s not necessarily going to improve existing kidney damage. But a high BUN to creatine ratio has been associated with kidney disfunction in high-risk folks.
- A similar study tested hydrangea extract on mice with acute kidney injury. It showed promising enough results for the researchers to recommend testing this treatment on septic patients.
- Other research suggests that an active molecule in hydrangea extract called skimmin may reduce BUN, urinary albumin excretion (UAE), and blood creatinine levels in mice with kidney inflammation.
- In a 2017 study, mice with medically induced kidney injury showed signs of reduced inflammation and cell death after using hydrangea extract. FYI: This only affected mice with previous kidney damage.
Even though these results support hydrangea root’s role in kidney health in mice, human research is still needed.
3. Reducing inflammation
Remember that molecule called skimmin? It’s a derivative of a compound called coumarin. Hydrangea root contains lots of coumarin. Both skimmin and coumarin may be able to help reduce inflammation.
- stopping nitric oxide (NO) production
- preventing interleukin 6 (IL-6) activation (substances that trigger inflammation)
- slowing down your bod’s reaction to inflammation-causing substances
FYI: Keep in mind that these results are solely from animal studies. Before it’s safe to say this is an effective treatment, it’s important to see human research to back up these claims.
4. Acting as an antioxidant
It’s time to talk about stress. Oxidative stress, that is.
Oxidative stress happens when there’s too many reactive oxygen species (ROS) in your body. This can cause cell and tissue damage, lead to certain chronic conditions, and even speed up your body’s aging process. It also can come with other health concerns. This type of stress can be squashed by antioxidants.
Again, this has only been tested in animals, and human research has yet to be done.
5. A few other (possible) benefits
Hydrangea root may also have other benefits, according to animal and test tube studies.
- Treating autoimmune disorders. A 2009 study suggests that a drug made from hydrangea root may help treat certain autoimmune disorders (including multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and psoriasis).
- Reducing the risk of bladder cancer. A test tube study found that a compound in hydrangeas called hydrangenol may prevent the spread of bladder cancer cells.
- Lowering blood sugar. Some research suggests that skimmin can improve insulin resistance.
- Preventing liver toxicity. Test tube research suggests that certain compounds in hydrangea stems can protect the liver.
Again, this info should be taken with a proverbial grain of salt (and prob not any hydrangea root). There aren’t human studies available to confirm any of these treatments really work.
There haven’t been studies on humans, so it’s impossible to know whether hydrangea root is safe for you to take or not.
Anecdotally, users have reported side effects like:
One study also found that hydrangea root may cause an allergic reaction when it comes into contact with your skin, thanks to a compound called hydrangenol.
PSA: Check with your doctor first
Again, there’s really just not enough evidence that hydrangea root works or that it’s safe for most folks to take. Reach out to your doctor before taking this supplement to get their advice on whether you should give it a try or not.
There are some scenarios when you should steer clear, including:
- If you’re taking lithium. Because hydrangea root may have a diuretic effect, it may interfere with how your body gets rid of lithium. This can raise lithium levels and cause some serious side effects, including nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, or even kidney failure.
- If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. There just isn’t enough info available on the safety, so you should avoid using hydrangea root altogether.
If you do choose to try this remedy, you can get hydrangea root supplements in a variety of forms. It comes in pills, powders, tinctures, liquid extracts. It’s even available as a sugary syrup.
There isn’t a recommended dosage (remember, there’s no real research on its effect on humans), so it’s important to use caution when taking a hydrangea root supplement. One common guideline is to avoid taking more than 2 grams at a time. That’s because higher doses have been linked to unpleasant side effects.
If you’re considering hydrangea root supplements or have any questions, talk with your doctor. They’ll be able to offer personalized advice for your unique situation.
Looking for other natural remedies to help what ails you? Don’t worry, we got you.
Kidney stones kicking your butt? Try:
- Dandelion root. Dandelions are rich in vitamins and minerals. Test tube studies show that they may help prevent kidney stones from forming.
- Stinging nettle. Research suggests that stinging nettle may both help prevent stones and maintain kidney health.
- Apple cider vinegar. ACV may help dissolve kidney stones and ease pain. One test tube study also found it may even help reduce stone formation.
UTI got you down? Try:
- Cranberries. Research suggests that these tart berries may help reduce both the frequency and symptoms of UTIs.
- Garlic. Test tube studies suggest that garlic may be able to fight a variety of infectious UTI-causing bacteria, like E. coli.
Looking for an alt anti-inflammatory option? Try:
- Basil juice. Often used to treat inflammation and digestive probs, basil juice has some anti-inflammatory properties.
How to find help
There may be a natural remedy that can help you heal. Talk with your doctor about what’s safe and effective for you. They’ll be able to give you tailored advice while taking into account any interactions that could happen with supplements or medicine you’re already taking.
Hydrangea root is a popular herbal remedy that’s used in traditional folk medicine. Anecdotal accounts claim this plant supplement has lots of benefits (like treating UTIs, getting rid of kidney stones, and reducing inflammation).
But there’s pretty much zero human research to support these claims. To be safe, it’s best to skip this remedy and opt for treatments backed by evidence.