Many people suffer from kidney stones. Our kidneys play the critical role of cleaning out the toxins and excess liquids from our bodies. They occur much more commonly in men than in women and they tend to affect people in middle age, and occur more frequently in hot climates.
Small kidney stones can pass without intervention. Maintaining adequate hydration in order to increase urine flow can aid passing small stones. Those that are as small as a grain of sand likely won’t cause pain as they pass out of the body, while larger stones can become stuck in the ureter, the tube that passes urine from the kidney to the bladder.
Lifestyle factors include low fluid intake, excess intake of foods with sodium, oxalate or animal protein, and long-hours working in hot environments resulting in high fluid loss. Factors unrelated to lifestyle include suffering urinary tract infection, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, bone loss, and metabolic abnormality.
Common symptoms of kidney stones include a sharp, cramping pain in the back and side. This feeling often moves to the lower abdomen or groin. The pain often starts suddenly and comes in waves. It can come and go as the body tries to get rid of the stone.
Other signs of a kidney stone include:
- A feeling of intense need to urinate.
- Urinating more often or a burning feeling during urination.
- Urine that is dark or red due to blood. Sometimes urine has only small amounts of red blood cells that can't be seen with the naked eye.
- Nausea and vomiting.
How to prevent
While drinking water is the most natural solution to avoiding kidney stones and helping them pass, there are a few home remedies that can fasten the process and help alleviate the pain.
Drink barley water
Barley water makes a great anti-inflammatory agent for the urinary system. Buy whole barley, put 40g in 1.2 litres water, boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add a slice of lemon or the juice of one lemon and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Allow to cool, then sip the water throughout the day.
Organic, natural yoghurt contains lots of beneficial bacteria to help recolonise your system, especially if you have been taking antibiotics.
Dehydration is one of the major risk factors of kidney stones. Increasing water intake can help speed up the process of passing stones. Taking 12 glasses of water per day will help pass the stone faster and this amount of water should be maintained even when the stone is passed.
Taking lemon juice or adding freshly squeezed lemons to your water is very beneficial to kidney stone treatment. Lemon contains citrate which prevents calcium stones from forming. Citrate can also break up small stones into minute particles making them easy to pass.
Basil contains acetic acid which aids the breakdown of kidney stones and helps to reduce the pain. It also has properties that help lower the levels of uric acid in the body which could cause future stones. Simply use fresh or dried basil leaves to make a tea and drink as many cups as you can per day.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has a high citric acid content which helps to dissolve kidney stones. The citric acid helps alkalize blood and urine which in turn increase stomach acids to prevent the formation of new stones. Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a medium glass of water and drink throughout the day.
A high-salt diet increases your risk of calcium kidney stones. Too much salt in the urine prevents calcium from being reabsorbed from the urine to the blood. The lower the urine calcium, the lower the risk of developing kidney stones.
Eat fewer oxalate-rich foods
The most common kidney stones are composed of calcium oxalate.Patients with this type of kidney stone can benefit from a diet that reduces dietary oxalate and increases dietary calcium. Avoid spinach, potato chips, French fries, nuts and nut butters, beets, etc.