Kidney stones and urinary tract stones are a common problem. They are hard mineral matter formed in the kidneys or urinary tract. However, contrary to popular belief, kidney stones are due to a deficiency of the mineral magnesium, not an excess of calcium. Magnesium helps to keep calcium soluble.
Blood in the urine and severe pain in the abdomen and groin can be attributed to kidney stones or renal calculi.
The kidney and urinary bladder form the urinary system. The kidney is a filtration and excretory organ. The bladder is a temporary storage and elimination organ. The kidneys assist the liver in filtering the blood of toxins such as urea. The kidneys also ensure the resorption of useful organic substances like minerals.
Stones can form for different reasons:
- An improper ratio of dietary calcium: magnesium.
- Excessive vitamin D supplementation.
- Sugar, salt, oxalate-containing foods like spinach and excessive consumption of calcium-containing antacids, diuretics etc may foster stone formation.
- People with gout (high uric acid), high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease, hyperparathyroidism, and diabetes are susceptible to kidney stones….as are people who have had intestinal bypass surgery.
- Dehydration is a major risk factor.
- As is a decrease in the volume of urine excreted.
- High calcium in the urine can cause kidney stones.
- Diet and hereditary factors also play a role in stone formation.
- Pregnancy-related changes can cause kidney stone formation in a small percentage of pregnant women.
- Frequent urinary tract infections can also lead to stone formation.
- Alcohol intake will tax the functioning of the kidneys.
- Damage to the kidneys can also be caused by the harmful effects of certain diseases, such as diabetes, and by some prescription drugs, such as ibuprofen.
- Uremia, a condition produced by the retention of toxins which the kidneys normally excrete, is a result of severe kidney damage and is treated through dialysis
An appropriate preventive therapy is to drink two liters of pure water daily. Avoid tap water and water softeners. Replace tea and coffee with herbal teas that have a beneficial effect on the urinary tract, and restrict intake of alcohol.
Dietary changes include a vegetarian diet high in dietary fiber. Foods high in oxalates such as beans, cocoa, instant coffee, parsley, and spinach can aggravate existing kidney problems due to a lack of good bacteria in the intestines. Recent studies found that a naturally occurring gut bacterium, Oxalobacter formigenes prevents the formation of oxalates and can help prevent stones. Fermenting these foods will also prevent the formation of oxalates.
The greatest contributors to high sodium content are processed foods, red meats, and cheeses. Urinary tract infection is sometimes successfully relieved by drinking large amounts of cranberry juice and taking vitamin C, because of the acidifying effect of these substances. Canned asparagus (with its juice) is also a good natural remedy. Lemon barley with mint and apple cider vinegar is a beverage that can help kidney stones.
Nutrients that support the kidneys are vitaminB6, pantothenic acid, beta-carotene, magnesium, and potassium.
The kidneys are known as the ‘seat of fear’. When the kidneys are weak or become diseased, it could indicate a fear buried deep in the psyche. There may be a tendency to blame others for one’s own problems. Recognizing personal needs and taking responsibility for one’s life is a good step towards healing the kidneys.