Kidney stones are solid lumps of deposits consisting of various minerals like calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, uric acid and a combination of many other salts such as magnesium, ammonium and from phosphates of other salts. Medically speaking, kidney stones are termed “renal calculi”. The stones can vary in size from a small grain to as large as a golf ball in some cases. The salts are produced from urine and once they form a deposit, it can be very painful. The formation of these lumps can start in our body when our urine is too thick due to not drinking enough fluid. These small lumps usually remain attached to the walls of our kidney in the beginning and may not even be detected. Once these deposits get detached from the kidney wall, they start causing pain due to the sharp edges of these structures and sometimes these may even block the flow of urine.
Types of Kidney Stones
There are five different types of kidney stones which are named depending upon their compositions such as calcium, cystine, struvite and uric acid.
- Calcium Stones: Generally the most common type of kidney stone is the calcium stone. Our bodies get plenty of this salt in the form of its oxalate from the natural food and food products that we consume everyday. These foods include: milk and milk products, vegetables, spinach, cabbage, turnips, tea, cocoa, nuts, and external supplements in the form of calcium tablets.
- Struvite Stones: These type of stones consist of magnesium ammonium phosphate which are formed from plant-based diets that are rich in magnesium. These are readily formed in human and animal urine and are sparingly soluble in neutral and alkaline media but are soluble in acidic media.
- Uric Acid Stones: This is the most dangerous form of kidney stones which are found in both humans and animals. They are not easily diagnosed by using conventional X-rays. These are semitransparent structures and grow quite fast and damage the kidney before the patient discovers the issue. Chemically, they are monosodium urate crystals which form due to crystallization of uric acid in the urinary tract. Uric acids are basically the byproducts of protein metabolism, which secretes highly acidic stones.
- Cystine Stones: This is the least common of the all four types mentioned above. These are basically formed from heredity and not from any food or food groups.
- Infection Stones: These are formed from a mixture of magnesium, ammonium and phosphates which cause an infection in the urinary tract, which is why they are called “infection stones”.
The most common symptom of kidney stones is severe pain in the back or towards the lower sides of the body near the hips. In some patients the pain may travel down to the groin. This unbearable pain acts as the alarm signal for the kidney stones, which can further be verified by suitable diagnostic tests including CT scans, X-rays, abdominal ultrasounds and some pathological tests for the detection of uric acid content.
There are various reasons for developing kidney stones. These include:
- Family history.
- After effects of some medicines when prescribed for a longer period of time.
- Taking external calcium supplements for a long period of time.
- Not drinking enough water to provide necessary fluid to the kidneys.
- Diets rich in sodium and protein.
- High blood pressure.
- Chronic dehydration.
- Being bed ridden for a long period due to disease.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases.
- Diet rich in Vitamin D.
- Improper diet with lack of exercise.
- Excess consumption of seeds of some vegetables like tomatoes and capsicum.
There are many ways in which kidney stones can be dissolved and treated completely. These include natural, ayurvedic herbal medicines, allopathic medicines, shock wave therapy and water therapy. Some of the natural and most popular treatments without side effects include the following:
- Using wild herbs like mixtures of gravel root, marshmallow root, hydrangea root, along with some Vitamin B6 and ginger capsules.
- Using diuretic tea which is made of corn silk, dandelion, oat straw.
- Using herbal tea made of herbs like Joe Pye weed, meadow sweet weed, sarsaparilla and plantain.
- Use 1/4 cup lemon juice with 1/4 cup olive oil and drinking it quickly. Drink a large glass of water followed by 3-4 tablespoons of lemon juice in water and drink this 3-4 times a day to flush the stones naturally.
One of the options to treat kidney stones is to use home remedies. The treatment is natural, harmless, cheap and does not have any side effects. Some of the items that can be used for home remedies are easily available and can be used by any patient. These include:
- Water: Drinking plenty of water (more than 2 liters can help)
- Nettle leaf: This prevents the formation of stones from crystals.
- Watermelon: This fruit has a lot of potassium and a very high water content. Eating watermelon can balance the pH of the kidney fluids thus preventing the stone formation.
- Pomegranate: This can treat the kidney stone by dissolving it.
- Basil: 1 tablespoon of basil juice can treat kidney stones effectively without any side effects.
- Celery: Raw celery juice can subside the pain felt by the patient during a kidney stone.
- Kidney beans: Eating these regularly can prevent the formation of kidney stones.
- Bran Flakes: These contain a lot of fibers and prevents the formation of kidney stones as they prevent constipation and keep the system clean.
- Whole wheat bread: This also contains a lot of fiber, nutrients and protein which can coalesce the stone even if it has formed.
- Lemon juice: The citric acid in the lemon can break down the stone deposits of the kidney and thus can prevent it.
- Grapes: The water content in grapes can remove kidney stones in an effective way.
- Baking soda and alfalfa: A combination of baking soda in water along with alfalfa every 3-4 hours can effectively reduce kidney stones.
Advantages of Natural Treatments
Natural treatments are more advantageous than surgical treatments for the following reasons:
- Anesthesia is not required when treating naturally with herbs or herbal medicines.
- Cost effective.
- No side effects.
- No hospitalization and post operative care for the patient.
- Recovery is stable without causing any other complications.
Disadvantages of Using Surgical Treatments
When the kidney stone is large enough and becomes almost impossible to treat by natural treatment, surgery remains as the option to save the life of the patient. But these surgical treatments may develop many other complications during and after the surgery is successful. For example, anesthesia is necessary which may not be suitable in elderly patients. Secondly, treatment with SWL (Shock Wave Lithotripsy) may cause kidney injury after the surgery. This may also result in high blood pressure and diabetes in some cases.
It’s very important to see your doctor right away when you experience any of the signs and symptoms of a kidney stone. Natural and home remedies are great to try but it’s always better to get the advice from a qualified professional before waiting too long. With proper knowledge of natural remedies, you can help prevent painful kidney stones from developing which will keep you healthy, happy and pain free!