The formation of stones in the kidneys or urinary tract is not an uncommon disorder. The stones are formed from the chemicals usually found in the urine such as uric acid, phosphorus, calcium, and oxalic acid. They may vary in consistency from grit, sand, and gravel-like obstructions to the size of a bird’s egg. Stones may form and grow because the concentration of a particular substance in the urine exceeds its solubility.
Most kidney stones are composed either of calcium oxalate or phosphate, the latter being most common in the presence of infection. About ninety per cent of all stones contain calcium as the chief constituent More than half of these are mixtures of calcium, ammonium and magnesium, phosphates and carbonates, while the remainder contain oxalate.
Causes and Symptoms
Kidney stones usually cause severe pain in their attempt to pass down the ureter on their way to the bladder. The pain is first felt in the side and, thereafter, in the groin and thighs. Other symptoms of kidney stones are a frequent desire to urinate, painful urination, scanty urination, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and chills. The patient may also pass blood with the urine.
The formation of stones in the kidneys is the result of defects in the general metabolism. They usually occur when the urine becomes highly concentrated due to heavy perspiration or insufficient intake of fluids. They are aggravated by a sedentary life-style. The other causes are a wrong diet, excess intake of acid- forming foods, white flour and sugar products, meat, tea, coffee, condiments and spices, rich foods, and overeating. Lack of vitamin A and an excessive intake of vitamin D may also lead to formation of stones.
Kidney Beans: Kidney beans, also known as dried French beans or Rajmah, are regarded as a very effective home remedy for kidney problems, including kidney stones. It was one Dr Ramm of Germany, who first discovered the value of kidney beans as a medicine for kidney and bladder troubles. He used it for over twenty-five years with beneficial results. The method prescribed by him to prepare the medicine is to remove the beans from inside the pods, then slice the pods and put about sixty grams in four litres of hot water, boiling them slowly for four hours. This liquid should be strained through fine muslin and then allowed to cool for about eight hours. Thereafter the fluid should be poured through another piece of muslin without stirring.
According to Dr Ramm, a glass of this decoction should be given to the patient every two hours throughout the day for one day and, thereafter, it may be taken several times a week. Dr Rainm also maintained that this decoction would not work if it was more than twenty-four hours old. The pods could be kept for longer periods but once they were boiled, the therapeutic factor would disappear after one day.’
Basil: Basil has a strengthening effect on the kidneys. In case of kidney stones, one teaspoon each of basil juice and honey should be taken daily for six months. It has been found that stones can be expelled from the urinary tract by this treatment.
Celery: Celery is a valuable food for those who are prone to getting stones in the kidneys or gall-bladder. Its regular intake prevents future stone formation.
Apple: Apples are useful in kidney stones. In countries where the natural unsweetened cider is a common beverage, cases of stones or calculus are practically absent. The ripe fresh fruit is, however, more valuable.
Grapes: Grapes have an exceptional diuretic value on account of their high contents of water and potassium salt. The value of this fruit in kidney troubles is enhanced by its low albumin and sodium chloride content. It is an excellent cure for kidney stones.
Pomegranate: The seeds of both sour and sweet pomegranates are a useful medicine for kidney stones. A tablespoon of the seeds, ground into a fine paste, can be given along with a cup of horse gram (kulthi) soup to dissolve gravel in kidneys. Two tablespoons of horse gram should be used for preparing the cup of soup.
Watermelon: Watermelon contains the highest concentration of water amongst all fruits. It is also rich in potassium salts. It is one of the safest and best diuretics which can be used with beneficial results in kidney stones.
Vitamin Bs: Research has shown the remarkable therapeutic success of vitamin Bt or pyridoxine in the treatment of kidney stones. A daily therapeutic dose of 100 to 150 mg of vitamin B6, preferably combined with other B complex vitamins, should be continued for several months for getting a permanent cure.
A patient with kidney stones should avoid foods which irritate the kidneys, to control acidity or alkalinity of the urine. He should also ensure adequate intake of fluids to prevent the urine from becoming concentrated. The foods considered irritants to the kidneys are alcoholic beverages; condiments and pickles; certain vegetables like cucumber, radish, tomato, spinach, rhubarb; those with a strong aroma such as asparagus, onion, beans, cabbage, and cauliflower; meat and gravies; and carbonated waters.For controlling the formation of calcium phosphate stones, the ‘»take of calcium and phosphates should be restricted. Foods which should be avoided are wholewheat flour, Bengal gram, peas, soyabean, beet, spinach, cauliflower, turnips, carrots, almonds, and coconuts.
When stones are composed of calcium, magnesium phosphates, and carbonates, the diet should be so regulated as to maintain an acidic urine. On the other hand, the urine should be kept alkaline if oxalate and uric acid stones are being formed. In the latter case, fruits and vegetables should be liberally used, and acid-forming foods should be kept to the minimum necessary for satisfactory nutrition. In case of uric stones, foods with a high purine content such as sweet breads, liver, and kidney should be avoided.
The patient should take a low-protein diet, restricting protein to one gram per kilogram of food. A liberal intake of fluid upto three litres or more daily is essential to prevent the precipitation of salts into the form of stones.
The patient should be given a large warm enema, followed by a hot bath with a temperature of 37.8°C, gradually increased to 44.5°C. During the bath, the head should be wrapped in a cold towel. Hot fomentation applied across the back in the region of the kidneys will relieve the pain. Certain yogasanas such as pavanmuktasana, uttanpadasana, bhujangasana, dhanurasana, and halasana are also beneficial as they activate the kidneys.