Kidney stones, one of the most painful of the urologic disorders, are not a product of modern life. Scientists have found evidence of kidney stones in a 7,000-year-old Egyptian mummy. Unfortunately, kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. In 2000, patients made 2.7 million visits to health care providers and more than 600,000 patients went to emergency rooms for kidney stone problems. Men tend to be affected more frequently than women.
Bryan N. Becker, MD, head of nephrology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says the “profound degree of pain” can radiate down the side and belly and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. “It cycles,” he tells WebMD. “It lets up, starts again.”
What Is A Kidney Stone?
A kidney stone is a hard mass developed from crystals that separate from the urine and build up on the inner surfaces of the kidney. Normally, urine contains chemicals that prevent or inhibit the crystals from forming, such as citrate and magnesium. Crystals also may form if your urine becomes too concentrated or is too acidic or too alkaline.. These inhibitors do not seem to work for everyone, however, so some people form stones. If the crystals remain tiny enough, they will travel through the urinary tract and pass out of the body in the urine without being noticed.
Kidney stones may contain various combinations of chemicals. The most common type of stone contains calcium in combination with either oxalate or phosphate. These chemicals are part of a person’s normal diet and make up important parts of the body, such as bones and muscles.
A less common type of stone is caused by infection in the urinary tract. This type of stone is called a struvite or infection stone. A bit less common is the uric acid stone. Cystine stones are rare.
Dehydration through reduced fluid intake or strenuous exercise without adequate fluid replacement increases the risk of kidney stones. Obstruction to the flow of urine can also lead to stone formation.
Medical Treatment Of Kidney Stones
Often the pain of a kidney stone will land a person in the nearest ER, where narcotic painkillers may be required, Becker says.
The key is fluids. The patient will get IV fluids in an effort to flush the stone out. Small ones will pass on their own, although it is not comfortable.
If the stone is retrieved, Brown says, the lab can tell what it’s made of and some dietary instructions for preventing a second episode can be issued.
If the stone is too big to pass and is blocking urine (a situation which can cause damage to the kidney), it may be broken up by sound waves. Or the doctor can insert a device into the urinary tract and grab the stone in a little unfolding basket and remove it. Surgery may also be necessary for some stones.
Natural Home Remedies For Kidney Stones
Bran flakes. Fiber helps get rid of calcium and oxalate in your urine, which cuts the risk of kidney stones. A bowl of bran flakes can give you 8 mg of fiber. Nettle leaf. Drinking plenty of water is the undisputed champion of kidney stone prevention. Some herbal teas, such as those made from the leaves of stinging nettles, may enhance the benefits of water by acting as natural diuretics. Vitamin A is an essential ingredient for healthy kidneys. One carrot can give you twice your daily requirements for this kidney-friendly nutrient. Foods rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, broccoli, and carrots. The B vitamins, specifically vitamin B6, are well-known stone fighters. Vitamin B6 keeps the body from building up excess oxalate. Too much oxalate is a major factor in kidney stone formation. Three ounces of chicken provide more than one-third of your daily needs of B-6. Magnesium, too, seems to be helpful in preventing stones. Your doctor may suggest a daily supplement of B6 and/or magnesium.
Dr. Keefe’s Approach
As someone who has experienced a kidney stone years ago, I know how painful it can be. Luckily, I was aware of the mechanism of their development and was able to resolve mine in short order. The two most important factors that I have found with kidney stones is pH and magnesium.
We carry sensitive pH paper that will quickly let you know if your urine is too acidic or too alkaline. We carry acid-alkaline food lists for your convenience.
For acid urine (the most common) two lemons or three limes in a quart of water is your drink of choice, or a gold label Alka-Seltzer which is just a bicarbonate will change your pH quickly. For alkaline urine cranberry juice and high doses of vitamin C as well as eating acid producing foods will be helpful. I recommend taking your pH to the opposite extreme for 24 hours. In most cases as soon as your pH is shifted the stone will dissolve enough to pass without much pain. Then try to maintain a 6.4 pH for saliva and urine. Watch out for too much calcium and not enough magnesium. Magnesium is the key. Magnesium citrate would be very helpful. Divide your body weight in half and consider that ounces. For instance 100 pound person should drink 50 ounces a day of fluids if they have kidney stones. Again if your urine is acid make that lemon water you drink at half your body weight.
High Oxalate Foods
Avoid the following high oxalate foods. Or, limit the amount you eat or drink to a total of 1/2 cup or less per day from this list. This can increase your risk of getting kidney stones
BEVERAGES: Beer, Chocolate milk and drink mixes,Hot cocoa, Tea.
FATS: Nuts,Peanuts and peanut butter,Pecans, Sesame and sesame butter or tahini, Soy nut butter.
FRUITS: Berries of all kinds, including strawberries, Fruit cocktail,Lemon, lime, and orange peels,Purple or Concord grapes, Red currants, Rhubarb, Tangerines.
MEATS & MEAT SUBSTITUTES: Baked beans in tomato sauce, Soy products like tofu and tempeh.
STARCHES: Amaranth, Corn grits, Fruit cake, Sweet potatoes, Wheat germ and bran.
VEGETABLES: Beans: green, wax, dried, Beets and beet greens, Celery, Chives, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Green peppers.
GREENS: collards , dandelion, escarole, kale, parsley, pokeweed, Swiss chard, watercress, or spinach, Leeks, Okra, Rutabagas, Summer squash.
OTHER: Carob powder, Chocolate in any form, Cocoa powder.