Kidney stones are accumulations of mineral salts that can form anywhere in the entire urinary tract (kidney, bladder, the ducts in-between, or the ureters), and primarily occur because of calcium (oxalate) and/or phosphate that has come out of solution. If left untreated, the stones can block these areas of the urinary tract, causing pain, bleeding, and other problems.
Symptoms of kidney stones include sudden and excruciating back pain that may come and go and that often radiates from the back across the abdomen and into the genital area or inner thighs. This pain can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, possible blood in the urine, pain on urination, and chills and fever. Stones in the urinary tract can be one of the most painful conditions, similar to the pain of childbirth.
In some cases, there may be no symptoms, depending on where the stone is located and its size.
Kidney stones are more common during the summer, possibly due to concentrated urine caused by increased sweating and insufficient fluid intake. In general, mild chronic dehydration can play a role in the development of kidney stones. Chronic stress can also play a role. In addition, kidney stones may be due to genetics. If one parent had kidney stones, there is an increased risk in his or her children. Cadmium poisoning may also play a role and needs to be considered if other treatment methods fail.
Kidney stones that are high in calcium may be a signal of hyperparathyroidism (excessive secretion of parathyroid hormone). In serious cases of kidney stones an ultrasound that fractionalizes and breaks down the stones may be advised. See your medical doctor for more information about this.
Note: One in every 1,000 adults is hospitalized each year in the US because of kidney stones. Kidney stones tend to be recurring, typically reforming within seven years.
Aromatherapy: Hyssop and juniper essential oils can be helpful.
Ayurveda: Cumin, coriander, and fennel tea. Drink one cup three times a day.
Diet: Diet alone cannot get rid of the stones. Higher-than-normal levels of oxalate related to a diet high in oxalic containing foods, such as rhubarb, spinach, leafy vegetables, and coffee, can promote kidney stone formation. High levels of dietary refined carbohydrates can also cause kidney stones. Sugar stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, causing increased calcium excretion through the urine. Other dietary factors that cause increased calcium excretion in the urine and promote stone formation are increased intakes of coffee, colas, acid-forming diets (such as high protein and grains), insufficient water intake, and excessive salt consumption. Soft drinks containing phosphoric acid can also encourage the formation of kidney stones and should be completely eliminated.
The most important dietary actions are to increase your intake of pure filtered water, fiber, and green vegetables, and reduce refined sugar consumption. Foods that are helpful in decreasing kidney stone formation include cranberries, black cherries, rice bran, kombucha tea. In addition to avoiding sugar, also avoid or reduce your intake of salt, dairy products, caffeine, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, nuts, chocolate, pepper, and animal proteins.
Herbs: Combine the tinctures of gravel root, cornsilk, wild yam, and blackhaw in equal parts and take one teaspoon of this mixture three times a day. Or drink one cup of an infusion of nettle three times a day. Other useful herbs include uva ursi, horsetail, and dandelion root.
Homeopathy: Berberis, and Sarsaparilla are both useful homeopathic remedies.
Hydrotherapy: Constitutional hydrotherapy of alternating hot and cold water packs applied two to five times weekly, and a hot pack applied to the abdomen and lower back several times a day can help relieve and prevent flare-ups of pain.
Juice Therapy: The following juices can help stimulate the overall health of the urinary tract and potentially flush out the stones: lemon juice; carrot, beet, and cucumber juice with a dash of garlic and/or horseradish; and/or cranberry and watermelon juice.
Nutritional Supplementation: Helpful nutrients include: magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin C (keep your total daily intake below 6 grams to avoid increasing oxalate formation), vitamin A, proteolytic enzymes (away from meals), raw kidney glandulars, fat-soluble chlorophyll, lipoic acid, and the amino acids glutamic acid, lysine, and methionine.
Alternative Professional Care
If your symptoms persist despite the above measures, seek the help of a qualified health professional. The following professional care therapies have all been shown to be useful for treating kidney stones: Acupuncture, Ayurveda, Detoxification Therapy, Reflexology, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Ultrasound.