Kidney stones, urinary lithiasis: can plants treat that effectively?
A common disease that has luckily almost disappeared – between the two World Wars – in most countries, kidney stones are “small rocks that form in the kidneys from crystals found in urine“. Prevalence in most Western countries is around 1 to 2% of the population, whereas the worldwide average is around 12%.
Certain scientists think that up to 24% of the world’s population is genetically predisposed to experiencing kidney stone.
The risk of having one or more stones in the urinary tract is often increased with persons aged 30 to 50.
Affecting men more than women, kidney stones are a “disease of abundance” that usually impacts populations from industrialized countries where the standard of living is higher.
What are the symptoms and causes of this disease? Can it be avoided? How can plants be used to treat it?
Kidney stone, what is it exactly?
These are salt crystals that form in the urinary tract. The salts aren’t only the normal table salts: they also include other minerals, too.
The urinary tract has three parts: the urethra, the kidney and the bladder. Stones can form in all three places.
Symptoms and body areas affected by kidney stone
Painful but usually without dire consequence, urinary lithiasis, if less than ¼ inch (6 mm) small, can form and disappear spontaneously. When this happens, it’s called asymptomatic urolithiasis.
However, there are 3 symptoms that sound the alarm for persons experiencing kidney stones.
Sudden and very violent pain (also called renal colic) is the first alarm signal for kidney stone. Indeed, the pain starts around lumbar vertebrae (lower back) and spreads, for men, to the penis and testicles. For women, however, the pain will concentrate on the labia majora, labia minora and the clitoris.
The second urinary lithiasis symptom is hematuria, which is the presence of blood in the urine. Even though traces of blood may be identified by the patient him or herself, it is generally detected after examinations in a laboratory, or with a urine strip.
> Urinary infection
Lastly, urinary infections may trigger and worsen urinary lithiasis.
It can be associated to more frequent, clouded urination with the sensation of burning pain.
Also, fever can appear and lead to acute pyelonephritis (for men and women) or prostate inflammation for men.
- an urgent need to urinate,
- (painful) evacuation of small crystals with the urine,
- nausea and vomiting.
Source and causes of kidney stone
Generally, insufficient hydration and an excessively rich diet with too much salt, calories and proteins lead to salt crystals accumulating in urine.
According to research prepared by scientists, mineral and salts levels in the blood aren’t balanced in most persons vulnerable to kidney stone.
This ailment can be influenced by other diseases such as diabetes, gout and even obesity.
Consequently, excess uric acid and calcium combined with some abnormalities in the blood can be a cause of urolithiasis formation.
Lastly, occurrence of prostate adenoma can also result in urolithiasis.
Are there natural, effective solutions to treat kidney stone?
Treating kidney stone with plants
Plants with diuretic properties are known for their capacity to increase the amount of urine: this results in increased irrigation of the urinary tract.
Unlike what happens in animals, ingesting berries from juniper, goldenrod, field horsetail, orthosiphon, black elder, burdock, tea tree, birch and dandelions hasn’t been proven to be effective on the human body.
As for the medical care it requires, prescriptions to treat renal stone depends on the type of stone, its size, its location and most of all on how the patient is responding to his ailment.
Good to know: stay hydrated!
Remember: dehydration considerably triggers appearance of kidney stones.
Consequently, persons working certain categories of jobs are more vulnerable than others: steel workers, seamen, cooks are more exposed.
However, for those persons who have a tendency to experience urolithiasis, ingesting the following medicinal plants is recommended:
- lemon or orange juice (because of their high levels of citric acid). Drinking one dose every morning would prevent stone formation.
- geranium herbal tea: 1 teaspoon per cup is enough.
- stinging nettle leaves, in the form of tea
- garlic ingested as a spice in cooking.
To that can be added the aforementioned plants, that are recommended in the form of herbal tea for preventive treatment.
Nota Bene: As soon as the first renal colic symptoms appear, it is strongly not recommended to drink a lot of water (or herbal tea) in the hope of eliminating the stone.
Indeed, this mistake is quite common. It is wrong because it would provoke accumulation of urine in the obstructed canal, which would only increase the pain.
Often, in case of renal colic, homeopathy is prescribed to soothe the painful spasms.
However, if you wish to find solace and treat yourself with plants, it is always recommended to consult a specialist (herbalist, homeopathy doctor, aromatherapy…).
In case of doubt or if symptoms persist, best talk with your pharmacist or consulting physician.