Kidney disease is something that we have all come to dread, but most of us still don’t have much of a clue as to how important the kidneys are. Yes, they are responsible for the filtration and excretion of excess fluid and wastes from the body, but there’s a lot more that they do — from helping in the generation of red blood cells to maintaining the electrolyte balance in your body. While kidney stones are rather common and are nowhere near as threatening as chronic kidney disease, they do require urgent attention and changes to your diet and lifestyle. This is because a single incident of kidney stones increases your risk of developing another kidney stone by as much as 50% over the following 5 years.
Whether you choose to use conventional or natural kidney stone treatment to deal with the situation, it’s worth noting that the only long term solution would be to make suitable dietary and lifestyle changes that are more permanent. This is why home remedies for kidney stones have become increasingly popular. In most kidney stone cases, simple intervention using natural remedies will suffice to flush out a kidney stone and these recommendations can also be incorporated into your everyday routine. The importance of this commitment to change cannot be stressed enough as the risk of chronic kidney disease increases significantly with recurrent kidney stone problems.
What Causes Kidney Stones?
Ayurveda has a long history of dealing with kidney stones as the problem has been around, perhaps, for as long as our species has! According to traditional texts, urinary calculi or bladder and kidney stones develop because of non-adherence to purification or detoxification practices, involving the use of purgation, emesis, and medicated enemas. These practices help to lower the buildup of vitiated doshas and ama. The other major cause that most of us find easier to relate to is the adoption of unhealthy diets and lifestyles.
Health care providers today agree that aside from genetic factors that increase your risk of kidney stones, there are controllable factors that include high intake of sugar and salt, inadequate water intake, obesity, and lack of exercise or excess exercise. Conventional medicine identifies three causes of kidney stones that can again be traced to your diet. These include excessive presence of stone-forming compounds in urine (calcium, urate, oxalate, etc.), the presence of other chemicals or substances in urine that encourage stone formation, and low levels of minerals or compounds that help to stop stone formation (magnesium, phytate, citrate, etc.).
How to Get Rid of Kidney Stones Naturally
To find a lasting solution for kidney stones it is advisable to seek a medical diagnosis, as identification of the type of stone will allow you to make the necessary dietary modifications to prevent stone formation in the future. To deal with the problem however, you can also use kidney stone remedies to get some quick relief. Many kidney stone remedies are also helpful in dissolving or eliminating the stone, no matter the cause. Some of the most effective of these include the following:
1. Stay Hydrated
This may seem like the most obvious solution, but it is nevertheless the most effective kidney stones remedy. Increasing your fluid intake helps to increase urine output, which is regarded as the most effective way to flush out smaller stones or cause dissolution, disintegration, and eventual passage of larger ones. In addition to increasing urine output, a higher fluid intake is also thought to help prevent and treat kidney stones by diluting urine concentration, reducing acidity levels, and flushing excess salt. Research appearing the journal European Urology shows that high water intake can reduce the long term kidney stone recurrence risk by as much as 60%.
Man rehydrating with bottled water
Keep in mind that your fluid intake should focus primarily on water and then on herbal teas. Soft drinks and other beverages with added salt and sugar have been shown to actually raise the risk of kidney stone formation.
2. Drink Some Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate fruit and seeds have long been used in Ayurvedic medicine for their therapeutic value, but they are also recommended for kidney stone and urinary tract infections. This is because pomegranate’s rasa or taste and quality is described as astringent. The fruit may be eaten raw or juiced, or you could consume herbal formulas and supplements with pomegranate extract.
Aside from the high nutritional value of pomegranates, the fresh fruit juice is particularly rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. This not only helps to boost your general health, but it has an inhibiting effect on crystallization or stone formation in the kidneys and bladders. Researchers believe that pomegranates can help not just in the prevention of kidney stones, but also in lowering the risk of kidney damage by reducing oxidative stress in the kidneys.
While cranberry juice is the most popular kidney stone remedy and is highly effective in certain situations, it can also be counterproductive if you don’t know what type of stones you’re dealing with. Research shows that cranberry juice is best used for brushite and struvite stones, as it raises urine acidity levels, which can increase the risk of other types of kidney stones.
3. Eat More Parsley
Parsley, described as Prajmoda in classical texts, is a popular herb not just in India, but across the world. Primarily used as a garnishing for food that we tend to disregard, the herb actually has immense medicinal value. With its pungent, bitter-sweet taste and light and drying qualities, the herb is helpful for pacifying kapha buildup, which can sometimes cause stone formation. Ayurveda regards parsley as a valuable ingredient to support urinary, digestive, and female reproductive tract health.
Fresh parsley on a chopping board
Although more research is needed to conclusively prove kidney stone relief from parsley consumption, some studies have been promising. One such study that appeared in the American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Urology suggests that parsley supplementation increases urine output and raises urine pH levels, making conditions less favorable to stone formation.
4. Include Ayurvedic Herbs
Obviously, not every Ayurvedic herb is helpful in the treatment of kidney stones and some may even pose a risk, but there are clear records of specific herbs that have been used for millennia in the treatment of bladder and kidney stones. Herbs like Punarnava, Varuna, and Satavari feature prominently in the Sushruta Samhita’s recommendations for managing kidney stones.
The use of these herbs is now supported by modern scientific findings, with most of their benefits being attributed to high antioxidant activity that is nephroprotective. Punarnava for example was found to offer possible protection against kidney stone formation and kidney damage linked with oxidative stress, while another study shows that varuna has both anti-lithogenic and anti-crystallization effects that can help in the elimination of kidney stones and also prevent recurrence.
5. Get Physical
For most of us, the lack of physical activity is a significant risk factor for kidney stone formation. Engaging in mild to moderate intensity physical activity can help to lower the risk and also facilitate the elimination of kidney stones. Ayurveda recommends specific yoga poses to ease passage of kidney stones and these include asanas like Pawanamuktasana (Wind Relieving pose), Dhanurasana (Bow pose), Garudasana (Eagle pose), Ustrasana (Camel pose), and Bhujangasana (Cobra pose).
While numerous studies point to the benefits of moderate physical activity on kidney health, Ayurvedic yoga recommendations for kidney stone relief have also shown benefits. In fact, a study on chronic kidney disease patients found improvements in renal functions with the incorporation of a regular yoga program. For individuals who lead a sedentary lifestyle, physical activity can be so beneficial in getting rid of kidney stones that simply spicing up your sex life can make a difference! Yes, researchers in Ankara, found that having sex 3 to 4 times a week can lead to spontaneous passage of kidney stones. It should be noted that excessive and high intensity physical activity can actually increase the risk of stone formation, so try not to push yourself too much.
While all of these kidney stone home remedies will help in the passage of small kidney stones, you need to make modifications to your regular routine and lifestyle to lower the risk of recurrence. More importantly, know when to seek medical treatment. Home remedies are best used as an adjunct to medical treatment and should not be relied on solely, especially when the problem is persistent or causing severe symptoms. Kidney stones may not be life threatening in themselves, but if neglected and not treated appropriately can give rise to more serious complications.
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