All bacteria are not created alike

Editor’s note: Are all bacteria with the same name alike? Not at all. Dr. Henderson explains the importance of specific strains of bacteria for therapeutic efficacy, answering some of the frequent questions patients bring up in her practice as a naturopathic physician. 

It’s been a few years now that I’ve been recommending Renadyl™ to kidney patients.  Most are excited to hear that there is a way to reduceuremic toxicity and potentially delay the need for dialysis.  But they’re already taking a probiotic or eating fermented foods that have probioticsin them.  Some patients even read the label of their current probiotic and see it has Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum.  So they’re already covered, right?  Probably not.

When it comes to bacteria, the specific strain matters.  Most of us have a great deal of E. coli in our gastrointestinal system.  But E. coliis toxic and ingesting it can send you to the hospital.  So how can it be that we’re already carrying E. coli in our systems?  The difference is in the strain. The specific strain Escherichia coli O157:H7 can lead to hemorrhagic diarrhea and even kidney failure, but most types of E. coli are benign.

The same is true for bacteria that break down uremic toxins.  The specific strain matters.  Renadyl™ is made from Streptococcus thermophilus (KB19), Lactobacillus acidophilus (KB27) and Bifidobacterium longum (KB31).  Will other strains of the same bacteria break down uremic toxins?Maybe, but the research is on these specific strains.  When faced with diminished renal function, it seems worthwhile to go with the therapy that has a proven track record.

Treatment of kidney disease is always changing as more research becomes available, but we can make the best use of the information at hand.  In practice I pay attention to what has actually been researched.  One treatment that’s helpful for polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is flax seeds and flax seed oil. (Feel free to read the abstract of one of the studies that looked at flax specifically for PKD.)   A few patients have asked me, “I’m already using chia seeds.  They’re very healthy.  Why can’t I just stick with chia seeds?”  It’s true that both types of seeds contain
omega-3 fatty acid, but is one interchangeable with the other?  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s only the omega-3 fatty acid that matters, or maybe it’s something else in the flax, but I try to stay with the product that was actually researched.

Patients can clearly see the effectiveness of Renadyl™ in their blood test.  When I prescribe Renadyl™ to kidney patients with high blood urea nitrogen (BUN), almost every single time I see the BUN go down with the next blood test.  In practice Renadyl™ has given consistently good results.  This means the blood is cleaner and there’s less stress on the kidneys.

Should you continue to take your regular probiotic along with Renadyl™ ?  It certainly won’t hurt.  Most probiotics on the market work to help the flora inside the intestinal tract and a having a good mix of strains can be healthy for you.  A healthy gut can indirectly help the kidneys by balancing the immune system, helping regulate pH and decreasing inflammation.

Besides taking probiotics capsules, incorporating fermented foods can be a healthy addition to anyone’s diet. The good bacteria will help the digestive system.  In fact one serving of good quality sauerkraut contains more viable lactobacillus than most probiotic products.  Beneficial bacteria are also found in yogurt, kefir, kimchee, fermented red cabbage and even fermented coconut water.  These healthy foods will give all the benefits of probiotics, often at a fraction of the cost.

Eating fermented foods, however, is not the same as taking Renadyl™. Are the good bacteria in fermented foods the same strains as those in the research? There may be some overlap, but the probiotics in foods are not targeted to the needs of kidney patients.  We can say for certain they are not supplying the same number of bacteria as the Renadyl™ capsule.  Renadyl™ has research behind it to show that it supplies 30 billion CFU (colony forming units) of very specific strains of bacteria.*

With Renadyl™ many patients are able to substantially reduce their BUN and show improvement with their creatinine.  Every point counts when you’re trying to stay off dialysis.  With a proven track record of lowered uremic wastes, I’m confident that Renadyl™ can target the needs of kidney patients.

About Dr.Henderson:  As the Founder of Holistic Kidney(Connecticut), Dr. Jenna Henderson has been studying renal disease since 1993. A kidney patient herself, Dr. Henderson knows the process of kidney failure first hand and applies her experience to help kidney patients worldwide. As a naturopathic doctor from the University of Bridgeport, she works hard to help kidney patients live a long, happy life and stay off dialysis. Her safe and effective therapies are holistic and natural, and they help to preserve kidney function naturally. Her advice is sought by many patients and practitioners when other approaches to kidney disease have failed. She has been interviewed
on public radio and published in Natural Medicine Journal.   Nearly 3,500 people follow her updates on Holistic Kidney on Facebook.  Visit
her website at  or reach her at

Editor’s note: It is true that the first version of Renadyl™ came in capsules with 30 billion CFU of formulation each.
However, several months ago, Kibow has updated its product packaging. Each capsule now contains 45 billion CFU. This change was to reduce the frequency
of administration from three to two times per day, a more convenient regimen for most people.

Further reading on the medical importance of bacterial strains:

  • A “bite-sized” tutorial on the typing of bacteria
  • Antimicrobial resistance fact sheet, World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Study: Phenotyping and genotyping are both essential to
    identify and classify a probiotic microorganism. (Full text)