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Kidney Stones Un(G)raveled

by Amy Jo Howard, N.D.

If you’ve ever had a kidney stone, then you know firsthand how horribly painful they are. Many clients compare them to childbirth. And, once you develop kidney stones, the likelihood that they will reoccur (according to typical Western medicine) is quite high. So, how do kidney stones develop, and what are some ways to prevent them or get rid of them naturally?

The kidneys detoxify and filter impurities from the blood. A kidney stone usually results when the kidneys can’t process the toxins efficiently, and there is a build-up of minerals and acid salts in the urine that crystallize and form solid masses. Calcium is often the key mineral ingredient, and the acid salts are typically uric acid (a byproduct of protein metabolism) or oxalic acid (though there are other less common formations). Some prescription drugs promote the formation of kidney stones (such as Lasix, Topomax, and Xenical to name a few) as well.

Often, people do not realize they have a kidney stone until it moves from the kidney into the ureter, the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. Common symptoms of kidney stones are: pain in your side and back below your ribs, episodes of pain lasting 20 to 60 minutes, pain waves that radiate from the side and back to the lower abdomen and groin, bloody, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine, pain with urination, nausea and vomiting, urgency of urination, and fever and chills.

To prevent kidney stones, make sure you are drinking half your body weight in ounces of water (pure and clean, preferably reverse osmosis) every day. Stop drinking pop and coffee. This dehydrates the body and makes the body more acidic. If you are taking a calcium supplement, make sure it is a good quality calcium. Also, calcium citrate is the preferred form of calcium to minimize oxalates in the body; this works best paired with magnesium citrate (look for the Natural Calm powder in the herbs etc store). Avoid foods with high levels of oxalates. These include: spinach, rhubarb, chocolate, strawberries, soy, wheat, and many nuts. Sugar and processed salt also disturbs calcium and magnesium absorption, so eating fresh, whole foods is best. Overall gut health is extremely important. There are particular species of friendly bacteria that will digest oxalates. However, processed foods, GMOs, antibiotics, vaccines, and other toxins all keep the healthy bacteria from colonizing, and then, the oxalates start to accumulate.

Eating watermelon is excellent for healthy kidneys. Celery and Dandelion are helpful, too. Herbally, Stinging Nettle and Shepherd’s Purse are valuable single herbs. Nature’s Sunshine has some great herbal combinations to support the kidneys. These include Kidney Activator and Urinary Maintenance. Marshmallow herb is fabulous for helping with inflammation of the kidneys and urinary system, and Hydrangea is usually the go-to herb for dissolving stones.

Now that the mystery has been un(g)raveled, you can help keep your kidneys stone free! If you still have questions as to what would work best for your kidneys, consult one of the naturopaths at herbs etc.