The kidneys are very important organs in the human body, there are known as the “two great sieves”. Almost everyone is born with two kidneys but some people are born with just one and it is very possible to survive with one healthy kidney. Your kidneys are about the size of your fist and they are shaped like beans. You cannot survive without your kidneys.
Their main work is to remove waste, excess fluid, and toxic substances from the bloodstream and excrete them out via the urine. Your kidney filters about 30 gallons of blood daily to and they remove about half a gallon of waste products, toxins, and extra water. These wastes products and toxins come from the food you eat and from the use of your muscles.
A thin tube called ureter connects your kidney to your bladder, the waste and extra fluid make up the urine which flows through the ureter into the bladder where it is stored until you are ready to expel it by urinating.
When your kidneys are not functioning properly, waste and excess water flow back into your bloodstream, this leads to a buildup of wastes in your bloodstream which can lead to many health problems and complications. Insufficient intake of water, fluids, dehydration, high intake of mineral supplements, and high amount of toxins in your body can lead to kidney stones.
Kidney stones are simply hard deposits of salts and minerals that are formed in the kidneys or in the urinary tract. Other names for kidney stones are nephrolithiasis, renal calculi, and renal lithiasis. These wastes build-up and stick together in your kidneys and because there is insufficient water in your body, your kidneys will have difficulty expelling these wastes. These toxins and wastes form clumps called kidney stones.
Functions of the Kidneys
Apart from producing urine and expelling wastes and extra fluid from the body, the kidney also carry out other functions like:
- They help make red blood cells
- They control the levels of fluid and chemicals in your body
- They help maintain healthy bones
- They control high blood pressure
Causes and Risk Factors of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can happen to anyone but some people have higher risks of getting kidney stones than some. Eating habits, lifestyle, sex, race, and other factors are to be blamed for this.
- Sex: Men have higher risks of kidney stones than women
- Race: Non-Hispanic white people have higher risks of kidney stones than people of other races.
- Family and Personal History: You can have kidney stones if you’ve had them before. If someone in your family had kidney stones, you are at risks of having it too.
- Dehydration: You are increasing your risks of kidney stones if you don’t drink plenty water. Dehydration and insufficient intake of water is one of the leading causes of kidney stones.
- Diet: If you consume lots of sugar, sodium, and protein, you are putting yourself at risk of kidney stones. Sugar interrupts the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
- Body weight: Obese people have higher risks of kidney stones than people who have a moderate or healthy weight.
- Surgical Procedures: If you’ve had a gastric bypass surgery or any type of intestinal surgery, you have a risk of developing kidney stones.
- Kidney Disease: You have a higher risk of getting kidney stones if you have any kidney disease that has to do with cysts, examples are polycystic kidney disease or some other cystic kidney disease.
- Underlying Medical Condition: Certain medical conditions can make increase the levels of calcium, uric acid, or cysteine in your urine thereby increasing your risks of kidney stones.
- Medications: Some medicines like antacids (calcium-based) and diuretics can increase one’s risks of kidney stones. Topiramate, a drug used to treat seizures and migraine headaches, can increase one’s risks of having kidney stones.
- Inflammation: Some medical conditions that cause swelling in your joints or bowels can also increase the risks of kidney stones.
Types of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can be tiny as a grain of sand and they can also be large, even larger than a pearl or like the size of a golf ball while they maintain their sharp and crystalline structure. They either stay in your kidneys or travel through the ureters and flow out of your body through the urine.
This is known as passing a kidney stone. Kidney stones can get stuck in your urinary tracts thereby making it difficult to expel urine. Passing out large kidney stone can be very painful and it can block the flow of urine.
There are 4 types of kidney stones:
1. Calcium Stones:
These are the most common types of kidney stones, they are made of calcium and oxalate. Oxalates are sometimes made up of calcium and potassium and they are found naturally in most foods. Doctors usually prescribe phosphate containing solution or thiazide diuretics to prevent this type of kidney stones.
2. Cysteine Stones:
Cysteine is a chemical made by your body naturally, cysteine stones are made of this chemical and they mostly occur in people with genetic disorders. Cysteine stones are rare and they occur when cysteine leaks into the urine from the kidneys.
This type of kidney stones is difficult to treat and patients are advised to drink lots of fluids so that they can produce more urine to flush out the stones. Medications that reduce the amount of cysteine in the urine can also be prescribed.
3. Struvite Stones:
This is caused by a urinary tract infection, in this case, a bacteria creates ammonium and this accumulates in your urine. This type of stone is made up of phosphate, ammonium, and magnesium.
Your doctor will provide long-term strategies to keep your urine free from bacteria causing the infection, for instance, long term use of antibiotics in little doses.
4. Uric Acid Stones:
This type of kidney stones form when the urine is too acidic, this type is formed with uric acid or calcium. Allopurinol can be prescribed to reduce the levels of uric acid urine and blood and other medicines that can keep your urine alkaline thereby fighting acidity.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Sometimes, kidney stones might not give any symptoms and the individual might not know that he/she has kidney stones. This only happens when the stones are very small and can easily pass through the urinary tract without any obstruction.
There is another type of kidney stone which cause a lot of pains and obvious symptoms. This type is caused by large kidney stones, sometimes, these stones are so large that they can’t pass through the urinary tract and some even caused obstruction in the urinary system.
These signs and symptoms below are common in people who have large kidney stones;
- Presence of blood in the urine
- Painful urination
- Vomiting and nausea
- Presence of white blood cells or pus in the urine
- Sharp pain in the lower abdomen or back
- Urinating in small amounts
- Severe pains at your sides and below the ribs
- Chills and fever, this shows an infection might be responsible
- Pain that navigates to the lower abdomen and groin
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Frequent urination
- Pain with fluctuating intensity and it also comes in waves
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Colored urine (like brown, red, or pink)
- Foul-smelling and cloudy urine
The pains may change as the stones moves through your urinary tract. Make sure you see a doctor immediately if you notice one or more of these symptoms. You should see a doctor immediately if you notice any of these, in fact, it should be treated as an emergency;
- Bloody urine and difficulty passing urine
- Severe pain that you can’t sit or stand in a comfortable position
- Severe pain followed by chills and fever
- Severe pain along with nausea and vomiting
How to Prevent Kidney Stones?
The best way to prevent kidney stones is to take in plenty of water on a daily basis. 8 to 12 cups of water is recommended daily and more should be consumed during hot weather and after a hard labor or intense exercise.
You should also limit your intake of animal proteins like meat and sodium, this will help reduce your risks of kidney stones. If you’ve had kidney stones in the past and your doctor was able to know what it was made of, he or she can give you a definite or unique diet that will help to prevent kidney stones in the future.
It is also advisable to treat underlying health conditions that put you at risks of having kidney stones. You might be placed on drugs. Eat calcium-rich foods but you should be very careful with calcium supplements.
Calcium in foods cannot increase your risks of kidney stones but those supplements have been implicated in many studies as a major cause of kidney stones. Majority of your proteins should come from plants like legumes, beans, and look for other substitutes for table salt.
Conventional Treatment of Kidney Stones
Kidney stones can be handled medically and naturally. In conventional medicine, the treatment of kidney stones depends on many things like:
- The Makeup of the stone (that is what it is made of)
- The size of the stones
- Does it cause pain?
- Does it block your urinary tract?
To find answers to these questions, the doctor might ask you to undergo a urine test, CT scan or X-ray, or a blood test. Make sure you tell your doctor you have problem with contrast dye if you doing before undergoing a CT scan.
You will be asked to drink plenty of water if the results show that the kidney stones are small. The doctor may also prescribe pain medicine for you. Drinking plenty of water will help your urinary system flush out the kidney stones.
Additional treatment is added if the stones are large and if they are blocking your urinary tract. Some of the treatments used in modern medicine for larger kidney stones are:
Shock Wave Lithotripsy: This method uses shockwave to break up the stones into smaller pieces that can be easily excreted out of the urinary system. This treatment takes 45 minutes to 1 hour and general anesthesia may be used. This will make the patient fall asleep and not feel any pain.
Ureteroscopy: In this method, the doctor uses a long tube to find the stones, the stones are either removed or broken into smaller pieces. The doctor will remove the stones if they are small but if they are large, they will be broken into pieces using a laser.
The broken stones will be small enough to pass through the urinary tract without causing much pains and this method is also carried out under general anesthesia.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: This method is carried out in rare cases, it is a surgical procedure in which a tube is inserted directly into the kidneys to remove the stones. You will be hospitalized for 2 to 3 days so that you can recover well before going home.
Parathyroid Gland Surgery: Overactive parathyroid gland can trigger the production of calcium phosphate stones. These glands are located on the 4 corners of your thyroid gland. The levels of calcium in your body can become too high when these glands produce too much parathyroid hormone.
This can lead to the formation of kidney stones. This condition (hyperparathyroidism) occurs when small and benign tumors forms in one of the parathyroid gland or a medical condition force these glands to more parathyroid hormones.
The growth in these glands can be removed surgically to stop the formation of kidney stones or the underlying medical condition lead to hyperactivity of the gland will be treated.
Effective Natural Remedies for Kidney Stones
There are lots of effective natural remedies to help you get rid of these stones. Conventional treatment don’t really treat this condition, they just give you pain killers and drugs to help numb the pains and relieve the discomfort felt when the stones move or when they want to come out.
The side effects of some of those medications and procedure can cause another problem or slow down your recovery. Below are some effective and proven natural remedies to help you.
Please pregnant and breastfeeding women should be careful, not all of these herbs are safe for you. People on medications should first consult with their doctor or a trained herbalist before taking in any herb because herbs and drugs can interact and cause more problems.
1. Baking Soda
Baking soda is a powerful alkaline substance and that is the reason why it works effectively in dissolving kidney stones. It reduces the acidity of your urine and enables the stones to pass easily through your urinary tract. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda in 2 cups of lukewarm water and drink this 3 times daily until your symptoms improve.
2. Hydrangea Leaves
This herb help increase the production of urine, this will help in expelling the stones out of the body. Boil a cup of water and put a little quantity of the fresh leaves in the hot water or if dried, you add a teaspoon of the powder into the cup of hot water.
Leave it in the water for a few minutes and then strain. Take three cups of this drink daily until you see results. Native Americans use the root of this herb to cure kidney stones.
3. Barley Water
This is one of the most effective remedies for kidney stones, it increases the production of urine and puts pressure on the bladder to eliminate the stones and other toxins from your kidney and urinary tract.
It also maintains the right pH (alkaline) of the body thus preventing the formation of kidney stones in the first place. Get ¼ cup of barley, soak it in 3 cups of water for 4 hours or more. Then you cook the barley in the same water using low flame until the water reduces by half. Add half or one teaspoon of lemon juice to this water and drink. Take few glasses of this water daily.
Radish is an excellent remedy for the most stubborn kidney stones and it also help detoxify your body. It improves the production of urine and digestion also. It also reduces swellings and inflammation because it has a powerful anti-inflammatory property.
Peel the radish and remove the stem, grate or blend it and extract the juice. Drink 100 ml of this juice in the morning on an empty stomach. Do this for a few days and you will see a great improvement.
Many naturalists consider grapes to be one of the best remedies for kidney stones. They are dense in potassium and water, these two nutrients are very important in dissolving kidney stones and they have low quantities of albumin and sodium chloride. Increase your intake of grapes and home-made or unsweetened grape juice.
6. Dandelion Roots
Dandelion roots can dissolve kidney stones and they also have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-pain properties that help in reliving inflammation and pains. Their ability to dissolve kidney stones is because of the rich content of potassium.
They also serve as natural diuretic. Add a teaspoon of dandelion root powder to a cup of boiling water and allow the solution to sit for 10 minutes. Strain it and drink. Do this 2 or 3 times daily.
People on diabetes and blood pressure medications should avoid this herb because it can interact with these drugs. Also, people suffering from gallbladder disease should not use this remedy.
Pomegranate juice protects your urinary system and it keeps your kidneys and urinary system in a state of optimum health. This fruit is rich in powerful antioxidants which help to detoxify your kidneys and reduces the acidity of your urine.
This help to dissolve kidney stones and expel them from your body. Eat lots of pomegranates or drink the unsweetened juice regularly, if possible juice it at home so that you have control over what’s going into your body and reduce the number of preservatives and other artificial chemicals going into your body.
8. Nettle Leaf
This is an excellent herb for your renal and urinary system, it promotes the formation of urine which will help flush out stones from the body. It maintains the levels of electrolytes in your body also.
When there is an increase in the production of urine, the stones will be flushed out easily without much pain. Add two tablespoons of dried nettle leaf to a cup of boiling water and let it soak in this water for ten minutes. Strain it and drink, do this two times or thrice daily until you see improvement.
9. Corn Hair
Corn hair, also known as corn silk is a powerful remedy for kidney stones. It is rich in diuretic compounds which help increase the volume of urine and expel stones from the kidneys.
You will need a good quantity of corn silk or corn silk tea bag, boil a cup of water and brew the tea as instructed on the pack or you just boil the corn silk. Drink a cup of this in the morning and one at night. Those on blood pressure and diabetes medications should avoid this remedy because they might be an interaction.
10. Plain Water
An ancient proverb says “water is the best of medicines” and this is true especially for kidney stones. Regular intake of drinking water is the single and most effective way to prevent and treat kidney stones. Dehydration is the leading cause of kidney stones, it makes it difficult for your urine to dissolve acid salts and minerals.
The color of your urine will tell you if you are drinking plenty water, in proper hydration, your urine should be light yellow, but when you are dehydrated, it turns dark yellow or even orange in color. This should push you to start drinking lots of water.
Try and keep the color of your urine light yellow and it will go a long way in preventing kidney stones. Take in more water during summer and after strenuous activities or manual labor. Don’t wait till you get thirsty before you drink water because thirst itself is a sign of dehydration.
Some medications like vitamin B complex supplements can affect the color of your urine and make it seem as if you are dehydrated even when you’re taking in enough water, don’t use your urine color as a guide if you’re on this medication.
Don’t confuse water with soda, sports drinks, and processed fruit juices; plain water is different from all of these. All these drinks are loaded with sugar, preservatives, and all sorts of chemicals and phosphorous and all these increase your risks of kidney stones.
These drinks even make one dehydrated because the body needs enough liquid to expel those chemicals. Quit soda, this is one of the surest and fastest ways to improve your health and reduce your risks of kidney stones. Diet soda is even worse than regular soda.
11. Kidney Beans
This is an excellent remedy for kidney stones, it makes the expulsion of kidney stones easy. Eat a cup of kidney beans daily but avoid the canned ones because they are packed with excess sodium which is not healthy for your kidneys. Eat the fresh ones and you can soak or boil them.
12. Banana Stem
Banana is a storehouse of potassium and vitamin B6, this makes it powerful in treating kidney stones. When consumed with lemon juice, it forms potassium citrate and this compound helps in dissolving and expelling calcium stones from the body.
You need a cup of freshly chopped banana stem, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a cup of clean water. Soak the banana stem in a cup of water for 30 minutes and then you blend it using the same water it was soaked in.
Strain the solution and add the salt and lemon juice. Mix well and take this on an empty stomach every morning. Do this for a few days until you see improvement.
Raw celery is a natural diuretic that helps break down kidney stones and flush them out of the body. It also contains antibacterial properties that can help stop the activities of bacteria in your urinary system. Blend raw celery and extract a cup of juice, drink this on an empty stomach and do this for 2 or 3 days.
This is powerful natural diuretic, it increases the production of urine by 30% and it is dense in powerful minerals and phytocompounds like potassium, equisetin, ascorbic acid, and magnesium.
Add 2 or 3 teaspoons of horsetail herb to a cup of boiling water and leave it for 10 minutes before you strain and drink. Drink this twice or thrice daily. Make sure you use herbs from genuine sources.
15. Watermelon and Watermelon Seeds
Watermelon is one fruit with the highest quantity of the purest water we have on the planet. Those who suffer from kidney stones must eat watermelon every day. It will help expel the stones from your body without much pain.
It is also rich in potassium which will help in eliminating even the smallest of kidney stones. Watermelon seeds act as laxatives, they are powerful detoxifiers and they also improve your digestive system. They help detoxify the kidneys and expel the stones from the body. Use fresh watermelon seeds and not the dried ones.
16. Holy Basil
Basil leaves are good for your kidneys, they are known as “natural tonic for the kidneys” and they help break down and dissolve kidney stones naturally. Boil a cup of water and drop 5 to 6 leaves of basil and let them steep for 7 to 10 minutes in the hot water. Strain the mixture and add honey for taste and drink it while it’s warm. Drink 2 to 3 cups daily until you see an improvement.
Asparagus contains lots of asparagine which help in breaking down kidney stones, this compound sloughs off the edges of the stone and makes it smaller in size for easy removal. It also increases the volume of urine produced and this helps to flush out the stones from your urinary system.
18. Coconut Water
Coconut water help increase the output of urine, it also contains potassium which has an alkalizing effect on your urine which help to dissolve stone. This remedy is also good for the reproductive system. Drink coconut water several times daily for weeks and all the stones will be expelled.
19. Lemon Juice and Olive Oil
Lemon juice is rich in citric acid and this compound helps break down kidney stones. Olive oil is greasy and it will enable the stones to pass smoothly through the urethra and urinary system.
Add a tablespoon of pure, unsweetened homemade lemon juice and a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a glass of water and drink. Take a few glasses of water after this and wait a bit, the stones should come out after a few hours.
Do these twice or thrice until the stones are ejected. Don’t take this mixture for more than three days and if the stones don’t come out, see a doctor.
20. Apple Cider Vinegar
This is one of the easiest effective home remedies for kidney stones. The chemical properties of this liquid help to make the stones soft and dissolve easily and the body can easily expel them. Regular consumption of ACV even prevents kidney stones from occurring in the future.
Add 2 tablespoons of ACV to a cup of water and drink it before meals. Do these until your symptoms reduce and when it does you can continue drinking it once or twice a week to prevent reoccurrence.
Always dilute ACV before ingesting it because the concentrated form can damage your enamel and the tissues in your esophagus. Those on diabetes and blood pressure medications should avoid this remedy because ACV can interact with these medicines.
A sedentary lifestyle is a great risk factor for kidney stones, so make your life busy and incorporate exercise into your daily plans and schedules.
22. Red Clover
This is a popular diuretic that helps expel wastes, toxins, and stones from your kidney.
23. Uva Ursi
This is an excellent folk remedy for kidney stones, it fights kidney disease and infections, it breaks down stones and expels them, it reduces pains and helps cleanse your urinary system. You can get the capsules or powder in a good health shop.
24. Wheatgrass Juice
There are lots of phytocompounds in wheatgrass which help to increase the volume of urine thereby enabling the easy expulsion of kidney stones. It also prevents the formation of kidney stones in people who have never had it. Get a good quantity of wheatgrass juice and juice it. Consume a glass or more of this juice daily until you see improvement.
25. Green Tea
Green tea is a very effective home remedy for kidney stone, it helps your body excrete oxalates through the urine. Most kidney stones are made of calcium oxalates, this herbal tea will help reduce the risks of this type of stones.
26. Helichrysum Essential Oil
This powerful essential oil helps expel heavy metals, toxins, and excess minerals from the body. You can take it internally by adding two drops of pure helichrysum in a glass of water and add several drops of coconut oil or any other carrier oil of your choice.
Don’t ingest this oil in its pure form, it can be toxic, and don’t use it on sensitive skin. Mix few drops of this oil with a tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil and massage the muscles on and around your kidneys with it. Massage your lower abdomen too. You can do this twice daily.
27. Castor oil
Castor oil has powerful pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties which can help relieve the pains inflicted by kidney stones. It also relieves other symptoms of kidney stones like cramps and spasms of the muscles and abdomen.
Get a good castor oil back from a reputable health store and press it against your kidneys. You can also make yours by adding few drops of castor oil in hot or warm water and soak a clean towel in it.
Press this towel against your kidneys lightly and leave it on your skin for a while so that it can penetrate deep into your skin. Do this several times a day, it will not only stop the pains, it will increase the flow of blood, enable the stones come out easily, and also relax your tensed muscles.
Insoluble fiber is an effective remedy for kidney stones, they halt the growth of existing kidney stones and prevent the formation of new ones. Fiber binds to calcium in the intestines thereby reducing the levels of calcium in the urinary tract.
This makes sure most of the calcium is excreted through the stool and not through the urinary tracts. This prevents the crystallization of calcium in the kidneys.
Excellent sources of fiber are whole grains, fruits, green vegetables, and legumes. Some vegetables may also contain high levels of oxalates, so you have to be aware.
29. Marshmallow Root
This is a natural diuretic, it is highly beneficial to your kidneys and urinary system. It dissolves stones, treats urinary tract infections and infection of the bladder.
30. Chanca Piedra or Phyllanthus
The name of this herb means “stone breaker”; it disrupts the formation of kidney stones by preventing mineral crystals from sticking together. It also changes its chemical composition and structure.
This herb should be given to you by a trained herbalist. It is one of the most effective natural remedies for kidney stones, it always works. These remedies with adequate intake of plain water which is the surest and easiest way to get rid of kidney stones will help you overcome this condition and even prevent the formation in the first place.
People with kidney stones should not take in calcium supplements, this will cause more harm than good and make the matter worse. They can eat calcium-rich food since it has now been established that these foods or organic calcium (calcium gotten from foods) do not increase the risks of kidney stones.
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