Incidences of kidney stones are on the rise. According to a study published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings, March 2018 1, ‘The incidence of both symptomatic and asymptomatic kidney stones has increased dramatically.’ This is in comparison to the numbers over the last three decades.
It is estimated that about 5% of American women and 12% of men will develop a kidney stone at some time in their life.2 The current allopathic approach is an expensive way of treating the condition.3 There are however a number of natural approaches to treating kidney stones, including diet and lifestyle changes, used in combination with herbal medicine.
Some factors that lead to the formation of kidney stones are metabolic imbalances, eating habits, fluid intake, urinary tract infections and genetic weaknesses.
Types of kidney stones
There are four main types of stones. Calcium oxalate stones account for about 80% of all stones. The less common forms include struvite (10%), uric acid (9%) and cysteine (1%).
While small stones may not cause serious symptoms, larger stones may cause bleeding, vomiting, severe pain and contribute to urinary and kidney problems. Studies also show that people who develop kidney stones will likely develop them again in approximately 5 to 10 years after, if they do not make significant changes to their diet.
Natural solutions for kidney stones
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
Diet and lifestyle habits are major contributors to the development of kidney stones and changes in these areas play a major role in dissolving or removing stones, and also preventing their recurrence.
Foods to Eat
Kidney stones thrive in an acidic environment and tend to dissolve in alkaline ones, as such a high alkaline diet is recommended. This is generally a whole food plant-based diet of fruits and vegetables. The diet should be hydrating consisting of high water-content fruits, berries, coconut water, leafy greens and vegetable juices.
Hydrate the body: Eat more high water content fruits and drink water. Preferably no tap water, unless you are able to filter it. Sodas, sweet or sugary drinks actually exacerbate the problem and should be avoided.
Eat more citrus: Citruses such as key limes, lemons, grapefruits and oranges contain citrates. Citrates have been shown to prevent the formation of stones and stopping them from growing. An easy way to add citrate to the diet is to add ‘real’, fresh lime juice to your drinking water.
Adequate nutrition: Ensure you are getting calcium and magnesium preferably, from your foods and herbs and not from supplements.
2oz Lime/Lemon Juice
Sweetener (Optional) – preferably no sweetener but if you must, use agave, grade B maple syrup or stevia leaves
Dissolve the sweetener in water and add the lime juice. Have at least 3 times per day.
Foods to Avoid
Foods that contribute to the development of kidney stones include high dietary intakes of refined sugars and salts, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, sodas and high intake of animal proteins.
Factors to note
Calcium: Many people take supplements on a daily basis. A large percentage of these supplements are inorganic, they cannot be assimilated by the body and may develop to form stones over time. If the person is dehydrated this worsen the situation. Avoid foods with added calcium, especially milk, dairy and highly processed foods.
Reduce salt intake: Reduce the amount of salt added to the diet. This include seasonings, spices, boullions and any types of foods with added salt. High sodium intake has been associated with the formation of kidney stones. A high sodium diet has a direct impact on the kidneys as it creates an imbalance in the potassium – sodium ratio necessary for the kidneys to function optimally.
Animal protein: A diet high in animal protein such as meat, fish and dairy can lead to the formation of kidney stones. They are rich in a substance called purines which breaks down into uric acid and may form uric stones. In addition, it may also decrease the level of citrates and cause the body to lose calcium, facilitating the development of stones.
Herbal Diuretics for Kidney Stones
Diuretic herbs can be used to help prevent the development or recurrence of kidney stones. They are generally safe to use and easy to afford; for example, one of the more popular diuretic herbs, dandelion, grows freely in many places of the world. Here are some diuretics worth considering:
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Leaf
Whereas the whole plant is useful for both liver and kidney tonification and detoxification, the leaf is most reliable as a diuretic. It has been favourably compared with furosemide in animal studies, and clinically is observed to have a similar effect if enough of the plant is used. Animal studies have also shown it to be beneficial in treating urolithiasis.
Most prescription diuretics tend to deplete potassium. Dandelion does not; in fact, dandelion leaf is a good source of potassium. It can also be used for an extended periods of time because it enhances rather than interferes with physiological functioning in urinary, biliary, and rheumatic conditions.
Tea (leaf): 3-4 teaspoons to each cup or, 2oz to 1 pint boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. Half-1 cup freely.
Decoction, root: 1 teaspoon to each cup boiling water gently simmer 15 minutes. Half-1 cup freely.
Hydrangea (Hydrandrea arborescens) Root
Hydrangea root is a mild diuretic, traditionally used primarily for all kinds of urinary complaints including the passage of kidney and bladder stones and for their prophylaxis. Hydrangea is also used to aid patients with urinary tract infections and prostatic inflammation or enlargement. There are no known adverse effects.
Dose: Tea: 1⁄2 – 1 tsp. dried bark, 8 oz. cool water, steep 1 hour. Take 4 oz. TID
Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) Flowering Top
Goldenrod and related species’ flowering tops have been traditionally used as inflammation-modulating, reliable, and potent diuretics. It is especially popular in Germany, where it is considered a first-line agent with no adverse effects. Goldenrod is high in flavonoids which aids in kidney repair and support blood vessels and connective tissues throughout the body. Goldenrod also reduces edema by reducing capillary permeability.
Standard dose: half-2 grams. Thrice daily.
Tea: Half-1 teaspoon to each cup boiling water; infuse 15 minutes. Dose: 1 cup.
Horse tail (Equisetum arvense)
Horse tail is used for connective tissue repair, particularly in the lungs and the urinary passages. Horse tail also contains β- sitosterol that tends to reduce prostatic hyperplasia. Horse tail also causes some degree of diuresis, as was confirmed in a human study of a related species. Several similar species had a similar magnitude of effect as spironolactone in animal studies. Because it is a general urinary tract tonic and increases connective tissue resistance, it is useful in both acute and chronic calculi formulas. Horse tail is also very safe.
Dose: Tea: 1 tsp. dried herb, 8 oz. water, decoct 15 minutes, steep 1 hour, take 4 oz. 3 times per day
Couch Grass (Elymus (Agropyron) repens)
Couch grass leaf is a saponin- and mannitol-based diuretic that also contains some silica to repair irritated mucosal walls. Couch grass is useful to facilitate passage of stones and later to repair and assist in preventing recurrence.
Dose: Tea: 2-3 tsp. dried rhizome, 12 oz. water, decoct for 30 minutes, steep 1/2 hour, take 1 cup 3 times per day.
Tincture BHP (1983) 1:5 in 40 per cent alcohol. Dose: 5-15ml (1-3 teaspoons). (Bartram)
Common Milkweed (Asclenias svriaca)
The Cherokees prepared a root tea that was used as a laxative to relieve constipation, as a diuretic for kidney stones, to promote sterility, and to induce sweating (Foster and Duke, 1990).
Uva Ursi or Common Bearberry (Arctostaphvlos uva-ursi)
Chinese used the plant as a diuretic for kidney and urinary problems. It was also used by the settlers and Native Americans as a treatment of kidney stones (Castleman, 1991). Uva Ursi or Bearberry was officially listed in the US Pharmacovoeia from 1820 to 1936 as an astringent (Vogel, 1991). During the 1800’s, physicians treated patients for diarrhea, dysentery, and kidney infections with this herb. Bearberry was listed in Hoosier Home Remedies (1985) as a useful diuretic and as a promoter that formed and excreted urine.
Butcher’s Broom Ruscus aculeatus Root
In Europe, a decoction of the root in wine was used as a diuretic to remove urinary obstruction, kidney stones, and gravel.
Herbal Formula for Kidney Stones
1 part Nettle Leaf
1 part Red Clover Flower Tops
1 part Alfalfa
1 part Horsetail (optional)
Drink the hot or cold tea freely. If under metabolic stress you might even use the tea as your main liquid. Good for acid urine, uric acid kidney stones, post-op recovery, PMSl acidity and as part of an osteoporosis regimen.
Prevent Renal Calculi Formula
|Taraxacum offi cinale
|Pellitory of the wall Leaf
|Flowering Tops 1.5
*All are ethanol extracts (tinctures) unless otherwise mentioned.
Formula developed by Silena Heron, ND. (Eric Yarnell etal.)
Pass Stone Formula
|Lobelia infl ata
|Lobelia, Indian tobacco
|Leaf, Flowers, Seed
|2 (vinegar extract)
|Taraxacum offi cinale
*All are ethanol extracts (tinctures) unless otherwise mentioned.
Formula developed by Silena Heron, ND.
Medications Associated with Kidney Stone Formation4
|Type of medication
|Agents that decrease uric acid Production
|Laxatives (specific to ammonium urate stones), especially if abused
|Overuse of any laxative resulting in
|Sulfonamides, ampicillin, amoxicillin, ceftriaxone (Rocephin), quinolones, furans, pyridines
|Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
|Acetazolamide, topiramate (Topamax)
|Ephedra alkaloids (banned in the United States)
|Herbal products used as stimulants and appetite suppressants
|Potassium channel blockers
|Amiodarone, sotalol (Betapace), dalfampridine (Ampyra; multiple sclerosis therapy)
|Reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors
|HAART (highly active antiretroviral Therapy)
|Various therapies for type 2 diabetes Mellitus
LITHAGOGUE: Herb with the ability to dissolve or expel stone, gravel (renal calculi). Bearberry, Buchu, Corn Silk, Couchgrass, Golden Rod, Gravel root, Horse Radish, Hydrangea, Nettles, Pellitory of the Wall, Parsley Piert, Sea Holly, Stone root, Violet leaves, Wild Carrot.
 Treatment and Prevention of Kidney Stones: An Update
Diet and Kidney Stones (Pamphlet) Prepared by: Clinical Dietitians, Nephrologists, and Registered Nurses. Stone Prevention Clinic. The Kidney Stone Centre.
Medicinal Plants of the Guianas (Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana)
Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Thomas Bartram
Clinical botanical Medicine by Eric Yarnell, N.D., R.H., Kathy Abascal, B.S., J.D., Robert Rountree, M.D
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