Kidney stones are crystals that form in the kidneys or the bladder, and are composed of calcium salts, struvite, or uric acid. The shape of the stone is often a clue to its composition. Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stone, which are mulberry in shape. Stones usually pass from the body without a doctor’s intervention.
Some possible causes of kidney stones include Cushing’s syndrome (overactive adrenal glands), cysteinuria (elevated levels of amino acid cystine in the urine), and sarcoidosis (an autoimmune disease).
Unfortunately, kidney stones have no symptoms until they are dislodged, which can cause excruciating pain, chills, nausea, fever, vomiting, sweating, frequent urination, and puss and blood in the urine.
There are several herbs that can help with different aspects of kidney stones.
Aloe can be taken internally in the form of pure aloe juice. Take ¼ cup daily for no more than 2 weeks at a time. Aloe contains aloemannan, which slows the rate of crystal formation.
Chanca piedra is an herb that is taken internally in the tincture from, which dissolves calcium stones.
Khella is an herbal remedy that helps the urinary tract heal after a stone passes. It can be taken in a variety of forms in the amount of 20 mg daily.
The birch leaf stimulates urination and stops spasms. It also can be ingested in the form of tea in the amount of 1 cup three times a day.
Marshmallow root helps cleanse the kidneys and expel kidney stones. It can also be taken as tea in the amount of 1 quart daily.
Varuna blocks an enzyme that is necessary for the formation of calcium oxalate stones. It comes in the form of a loose tea, and can be prepared by steeping 1 tbsp in 1 cup of water. Drink three times a day.
Include sufficient amounts of fiber in your diet. Low fiber diets are associated with kidney stone formation. High protein diets should be avoided, because they greatly increase the acidity of the urine, stimulating the development of some types of stones.
In order to prevent new calcium stones from forming, avoid meats, dairy products, black tea, cocoa, cranberries, nuts, parsley, pepper, Swiss chard, pepper, grapefruit juice, beet greens, and especially rhubarb. Also avoid drinking great quantities of alcohol or eating too much fat.
Drink water before, during, and after exercising, especially when it’s hot out. Acid levels in the blood increase briefly after exercise, which stimulates the growth of calcium stones. Drinking water helps to offset the PH levels; eight glasses of water a day is recommended.
Include the Japanese beverage lisymachia or kinsenso tea in your diet, which you can find in Japanese grocery stores. This herb increases urination, which helps the kidneys flush out small stones. Ingest 1 to 2 cups of this tea daily.
If you have a family history of this type of urologic disorder, take calcium supplements with meals. When calcium foods are ingested with oxalates, they bind together and leave the body through the stool, which lessens the risk of the formation of kidney stones. If you have a personal history of kidney stones, and not just a family history, calcium supplements should be avoided.
Children who have kidney stones benefit by increasing their intake of potassium. Potassium-rich foods include: citrus fruits or juices, green leafy vegetables, and bananas.
Women with kidney stones and bone loss from osteoporosis can use calcium supplements, but need to be careful exactly which supplements they take and what type of foods they eat. In this instance, a daily dose of calcium citrate, combined with a low-oxalate diet (no parsley, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, or rhubarb stem), will help with the osteoporosis without forming new kidney stones.
Don’t rely solely on herbal therapies for acute attacks. Consult your physician.