Kidney stones have become an increasingly common medical problem in Western society, mainly due to poor dietary habits. Although many kidney stones are so small that they pass unnoticed, they may sometimes become very large, up to the size of a marble. It is not hard to imagine that as these large stones move through the urinary tract, they cause great—and often excruciating—pain. Kidney stones are most likely to affect white men over the age of the thirty. People of any race or sex who live in the southern United States also have a higher risk, probably because of dietary habits in that region.
Complementary therapies offer effective, natural pain relief for more minor cases, as well as strategies for keeping the stones from growing any larger, but on the whole, it is far easier to prevent kidney stones in the ﬁrst place. History holds a clue to their prevention: Back in the early 1900s, when Americans ate natural, wholesome foods, kidney stones were largely unheard of. As the century wore on, and as diets became lower in ﬁber and higher in fat, sugar, dairy, and junk, the disorder became much more common. Now a man living in America has a 10 percent chance of passing a kidney stone at least once in his life. If you suffer from kidney stones, take heart in the knowl- edge that you can prevent a recurrence of this painful condition with changes in diet and lifestyle and by using speciﬁc nutritional supplements.
There are different types of kidney stones, with 80 percent being composed of cal- cium salts, especially the oxalate type. Some stones are also composed of calcium phosphate, uric acid, struvite, cystine, or other materials. If your stones are mainly composed of uric acid, please follow the recommendations in the Gout section. This section focuses on the prevention and the treatment of calcium-oxalate stones.
If you have been diagnosed with or suspect that you have kidney stones, then you
should be under the care of a professional. Your doctor will rule out other conditions or underlying causes and will check for infection. In cases of very large stones or severe pain, you may need to be hospitalized. This condition can be a medical emer- gency when stones block the urinary tract for a long time, causing urine to back up and distend the kidney (hydronephrosis). You are also at more risk for a urinary tract infection during an acute kidney stone crisis. Conventional treatment may involve breaking the stones up with sound waves (lithotripsy) or surgical removal.
Smaller stones that are not causing symptoms or an infection will usually pass through without any problems if you follow our recommendations. People with a chronic susceptibility to this condition should remember that an effective prevention program generally requires the nutritional approach outlined in this chapter.
• Pain on one side of the lower back, in the belly, or down into the groin
• A frequent urge to urinate
• Blood and sediment in the urine
• Nausea and vomiting
• Chills and fever, if the stone causes
a blockage and an infection
• A poor diet
• Urinary pH balance
• Allergies and food sensitivities
• Infections that disturb the ﬂow of ﬂuids
• A magnesium and potassium deﬁciency
• An inherited inability to absorb calcium properly or to excrete too much oxalic acid
• Metabolic disorders that increase the risk of kidney stone formation, such as hyperparathyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, sarcoidosis, cancer, and others
Many people with kidney stones suffer from dehydration. A lack of ﬂuids increases the mineral concentration in the kidneys and, with it, the chance that stones will crys- tallize. While you have a kidney stone, drink 21⁄2 to 3 quarts of clean water every day. Once the stone has passed, resume a normal daily dose of 1 glass every two waking hours. Hydration is the single most important tactic in the treatment and the preven- tion of kidney stones.
Vegetarians have a much lower risk of getting kidney stones than meat eaters do. Follow a diet based on fresh, raw vegetables and whole grains; eat beans, nuts and seeds, and ﬁsh for protein. If you must eat animal products, stick to lean, high- quality sources of white meat.
Consume oat and wheat bran daily, as they reduce the risk of kidney stones being formed.
Lemon juice mixed with a little hot water is another remedy that will help acidify
The following tests help assess possible reasons for kidney stones: Urine pH and type of crystals formed—urinalysis
X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scan
Vitamin and mineral analysis (especially for magnesium, B6, vitamin D, calcium)—blood, urine
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
Heavy metal toxicity (especially cadmium)—hair or urine
the urine and ease the passage of calcium-oxalate stones. Drink some at breakfast and throughout the day. Orange juice has been shown to be helpful as well.
Vitamin A is healing to the urinary tract, so be sure to eat lots of orange-yellow and green vegetables.
Consume 1⁄4 cup of pumpkin seeds daily. Studies show that consuming these seeds
reduces risk factors for kidney stone formation.
A magnesium deﬁciency has been linked to recurring kidney stones. Boost your lev- els of this nutrient by eating green leafy vegetables, kelp, soybeans, almonds, and apples.
Celery, parsley, and watermelon help cleanse the urinary tract, so add these foods to your regular meals.
Food to Avoid
Eliminate foods that contain high amounts of oxalic acid from your diet. By far the worst offenders are spinach, rhubarb, tomatoes, collards, eggplant, beets, celery, sum- mer squash, sweet potatoes, peanuts, almonds, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, Concord grapes, parsley, and cocoa.
Avoid grapefruit juice, which studies show increases the risk of kidney stones. Animal fat causes the body to excrete calcium, creating a build-up in the kidneys.
Avoid all red meat, and limit your consumption of other animal products.
Avoid calcium overload by eliminating dairy products from your diet. The calcium from milk, cheese, ice cream, and the like is not easily absorbed by the digestive sys- tem and ends up as extra waste matter in your kidneys.
When you eat too much sugar, the resulting high levels of insulin leach calcium from the bones and divert it into the urinary tract. Stay away from all products that contain reﬁned sugar. Of particular importance are soft drinks that contain phosphoric acid. They should be completely avoided, as some studies show that they cause an increase risk in kidney stones.
Salt, caffeine, and alcohol all conspire to dehydrate your body and increase the con- centration of minerals in the urine. Cut out caffeine and alcohol, and dramatically restrict your salt intake.
A three-day vegetable juice fast will cleanse your body of a mineral overload and will encourage the stone to pass as painlessly as possible. Drink a variety of vegetable and fruit juices: those made from green vegetables, carrots, lemons, parsley, celery, and watermelon are especially helpful for a kidney cleanse.
study of 55 people with
Super Seven Prescriptions—Kidney Stone
Super Prescription #1 Magnesium
Take 250 mg twice daily with meals. Magnesium prevents the formation of
stones looked at the effect of supple- menting 500 mg of magnesium daily
for up to 4 years. The average num- ber of recurrences of kidney stones dropped by 90 per- cent. Also, 85 per- cent of the people in the study remained stone free, as compared to 41 percent who
did not supplement magnesium. Studies have also shown
that the combina- tion of magnesium and vitamin B6 supplementation is very effective in reducing kidney stone formation. One study of 149 people with recur- rent kidney stones who supplemented B6 (10 mg) and magnesium (300 mg) had a 92.3 per- cent improvement
in stone formation.
Super Prescription #2 Vitamin B6
Take 50 mg daily. Vitamin B6 has been shown to reduce calcium-oxalate levels, and studies show that people with kidney stones tend to be deﬁcient in B6.
Super Prescription #3 IP-6 (inositol hexaphosphate)
Take 120 mg daily. Studies show that this supplement reduces calcium-oxalate crys- tals in the urine.
Super Prescription #4 Vitamin E
Take 400 IU daily. Vitamin E may be helpful for people who have a history of ele- vated calcium-oxalate levels.
Super Prescription #5 Cranberry extract (Vaccinium macrocarpona)
Take 400 mg twice daily of a standardized extract or as directed on the container. Studies have shown that cranberry reduces urinary calcium levels in people with a history of kidney stones. It also is used to prevent urinary tract infections.
Super Prescription #6 Aloe vera
Drink 1⁄4 cup daily or as directed on the container, as it reduces urinary crystals.
Super Prescription #7 Vitamin A
Take 5,000 IU daily. A deﬁciency of this vitamin is considered a risk factor for kid- ney stone formation.
Uva ursi is a traditional herbal treatment for kidney stones. It relieves pain, cleanses the urinary tract, and ﬁghts infection. Take 250 to 500 mg three times daily. Do not take uva ursi for more than fourteen days at a stretch.
Dandelion root (Taraxacum ofﬁcinale) is an effective kidney cleanser. Take 500 mg two times daily. Do not take dandelion root for more than a month at a time.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) has beneﬁcial diuretic qualities. To make a tea, mac- erate horsetail leaves and steep them in cold water for twelve hours. Heat the mix- ture and drink 3 to 4 cups daily. If you prefer capsules or tablets, take 2 grams three times a day.
Juniper berry (Juniperus communis) tea is another strong diuretic kidney cleanser. Drink 3 or 4 cups every day until the stone passes.
Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to lower the incidence of kidney stone formation, when the level is below 4,000 mg daily. However, in certain individuals it may accelerate stone formation; therefore, people with a history of kidney stones should have their urinary oxalate levels monitored by a doctor.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C,
12C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Con- sultation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna) is for sudden, excruciating pain in the right
kidney. Symptoms are worse with any jarring. A high fever and a ﬂushed face may be present.
Berberis Vulgaris is helpful when there are sharp, stitching, or shooting pains that radiate throughout the ureters, the bladder, the testes, or the thighs.
Dioscorea helps when the kidney stone pain causes one to stretch or arch backward for pain relief.
Lachesis is for left-sided kidney pain. Hemorrhaging may occur from the kidney stone.
Lycopodium (Lycopodium clavatum) is for kidney stones that cause pain on the right side of the back or the belly. Symptoms are often worse between 4 and 8 P.M.
Nux Vomica is for stone pain (colic), accompanied by cramping, nausea, or vom- iting. People who beneﬁt from this remedy may have futile urges to empty their bow- els or bladders and may feel very irritable.
See pages 668–675 for information about pressure points and administering treatment.
• Work Large Intestine 4 to relieve kidney stone pain.
Acupuncture is recommended to help combat the pain of a kidney stone and to pro- mote a more effective passage.
See pages 686–687 for information about reﬂexology areas and how to work them.
To help pass kidney stones and ease the pain, work the following points daily: ureters, kidneys, bladder, diaphragm, parathyroid, and lower back. If you want to pre- vent the recurrence of stones, work these areas on a weekly basis.
A hot sitz bath helps to relieve the pain. You can drink water or herbal tea while sit- ting in the water to encourage faster elimination of the stone. For some people, a con- stitutional hydrotherapy feels even better.
To relieve abdominal pain, use any of the following, either alone or in a combination that pleases you: chamomile, lavender, and marjoram. You can add them to a sitz bath (or a regular bath, if you like), or mix them with a carrier oil and rub it directly on your abdomen.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Learn to meditate. When kidney stones are agonizing, you can use meditative breath- ing techniques to disengage yourself from the pain.
Bach Flower Remedies
Select the appropriate remedy, and place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
Many people with kidney stones suffer from resentment and bitterness. If this is true for you, Willow will help you feel more forgiving and content.
Elm is for people who are overwhelmed and depressed by work and who feel inad- equate to the tasks at hand.
Hornbeam is another remedy for overwork, especially when it leaves you too exhausted to care.
• Antacids that contain aluminum may cause kidney stones, especially when taken along with dairy products. Choose an antacid made without this metal, or, better yet, simply avoid foods that give you indigestion.