Kidney stones, also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis are one of the most common health problems worldwide. They’re especially common in people between the ages of 30 and 50, and tend to run in families. In some cases, kidney stones can lead to kidney damage or even kidney failure if not treated promptly.
Kidney stones can be a very painful and debilitating condition, but there is hope. Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine and it offers a comprehensive approach to health, including both preventive measures and treatments for kidney stones. There are several Ayurvedic treatments for kidney stones, which can help relieve pain and promote healing. These include herbal medicines and supplements, dietary and lifestyle changes, and yogic practices.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney (renal) stones are small, hard deposits in the urinary system (kidney, ureter, bladder and urethra). They’re made up of minerals and acid salts, and can vary in size from a grain of sand to a pea.
Kidney stones are formed when there is an imbalance in the minerals (calcium) and acids (oxalate and uric acid) in the kidney. This can happen due to a variety of factors, including diet, dehydration, and certain medical conditions. When these substances become concentrated in the kidney, the urine becomes super saturated with these salts and acids. This leads to crystallization and formation of stones and calculi.
Four types of kidney stones
There are four main types of kidney stones:
1. Calcium oxalate stones: These are the most common type of kidney stones, and are formed when there is too much oxalate in the urine. Oxalate is a substance found in food, and is also produced by the liver.
2. Uric acid stones: These stones are more common in people who have gout or who eat a lot of animal protein.
3. Cystine stones: These stones are more common in people with certain genetic disorders that cause the body to excrete too much of the amino acid cystine.
4. Struvite stones: These stones are more common in women, and are caused by infection.
Kidney stones are usually diagnosed using imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, and ultrasounds. A sample of the stone may also be sent for analysis to determine its chemical composition.
Causes of Kidney Stones
There are several possible causes of kidney stones, including genetic factors, diet, and certain medical conditions.
- Genetics: Kidney stones are more likely to form if there is a family history of the condition.
- Dietary factors: Diet plays a role in kidney stone formation, as certain foods can increase the levels of minerals and acids in the urine. Some examples are high protein diets, excess sugar, salt or mineral supplementation as calcium pills.
- Dehydration: Inadequate water intake or high heat in environment can lead to kidney stones, as it causes the urine to become more concentrated and allows stones to form more easily.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as gout, Urinary tract infections (UTI), Renal disease, Diabetes and Crohn’s disease, can increase the risk of kidney stones.
- Obesity and High BMI: Being overweight or obese can also lead to kidney stones, as there is an increased amount of uric acid in the body.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Some stones stay in the kidney and do not cause any problems. Sometimes, the kidney stone can travel down the ureter, the tube between the kidney and the bladder. If the stone becomes lodged in the ureter, it blocks the urine flow from that kidney and causes pain.
If the stone reaches the bladder, it can be passed out of the body in urine. However, if it gets trapped in the ureters, it can obstruct urine flow and cause the kidney to swell and spasm, causing extreme discomfort. Pain due to kidney stones may vary in intensity or location as a kidney stone passes down your urinary system.
-Severe pain in the abdomen, groin, or back
-Pain or burning sensation when urinating
-Blood in the urine leading to pink, brown or red urine
-cloudy or foul smelling urine
-Nausea and vomiting
-Fever and chills if an infection is present
-Urinary urgency and frequency, you may urinate more or less than usual
Health complications when kidney stones are not treated
Kidney stones often cause severe pain, and can lead to kidney damage or even kidney failure if not treated promptly. Some possible health complications of untreated kidney stones include:
-Urinary tract infections
-Blood poisoning (septicemia)
-Blockage of the intestine
Conventional treatment options for kidney stones
There are several treatment options for kidney stones, depending on the size and location of the stone. Smaller stones may be able to pass out of the body on their own, while larger stones may need to be removed surgically. Other treatment options include:
- Shock wave lithotripsy: A machine is used to generate shock waves that break up the kidney stones into smaller pieces that can be passed out of the body in urine.
- Ureteroscopy: A small scope is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder, up the ureter, and into the kidney. The scope is used to locate and remove the stone.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: A small incision is made in the back, and a scope is inserted through the incision and into the kidney. The stone is then removed surgically.
- Laparoscopic nephrolithotomy: Several small incisions are made in the abdomen, and a scope is inserted through one of the incisions and into the kidney. The stone is then removed surgically.
Surgically removing kidney stones is essential to find relief from the symptoms. However, nearly half of the people experience recurrence of stones as the root cause is not removed. Ayurvedic treatment for kidney stones treats them at the root cause level and prevents them from happening in future.
Ayurvedic perspective of kidney stones
Renal stones are referred as Moothrashmari, where in ashmari refers to stones or calculi and moothra refers to the urinary system, which includes the kidneys. The root cause of kidney stones in Ayurveda is related to the build up of toxins “ama” in the urine and reduced functioning of the kidneys due to a faulty diet, lifestyle and preexisting health conditions.
Ama further blocks circulation through the moothravahasrotas, the channels of urinary system, which can lead to stagnation and formation of kidney stones. Vata dosha gets imbalanced due to this. Pitta dosha and kapha dosha may also be involved leading to specific symptoms of inflammation, blood in urine and infections.
Ayurvedic treatment for kidney stones focuses on cleansing the urinary system, as well as improving digestion. Some of the most effective remedies include detoxification therapies like panchakarma, herbs like dandelion and dietary changes.
Ayurvedic medicines to dissolve and treat kidney stones involves potent diuretics, lithotriptic and alkaline herbs. Together these herbs help to:
- increase production and flow of urine
- detoxify and prevent formation of ama
- activate the kidneys so that salts and acids are dissolved and excreted out
- break and dissolve the calculi in the urinary system
Ayurvedic herbs for treatment of kidney stones
Here are some of the best Ayurvedic herbs that help in the dissolution and treatment of kidney stones:
1. Apamarga (Achyranthes Aspera)
This herb is a potent diuretic that helps to increase the production of urine. It also has lithotriptic properties that help to break down kidney stones.
2. Gokshura (Tribulus Terrestris)
This herb is helpful in treating urinary tract infections and reducing inflammation. It also helps to break down kidney stones and promote the excretion of calculi through the urine.
3. Pashanabheda (Bergenia Ligulata)
This herb is effective in treating kidney stones and reducing the pain associated with it. It helps to increase urine production and also has lithotriptic properties that help to break down kidney stones.
4. Varun (Crataeva Nurvala)
This herb is an effective diuretic that helps to increase urine production. It also has lithotriptic properties that help to break down kidney stones and promote their excretion through the urine.
5. Kaasis (Plumbago Zeylanica)
This herb is helpful in treating urinary tract infections. It also helps to increase urine production and has lithotriptic properties that help to break down kidney stones.
6. Chandan (Santalum Album)
This herb has cooling and soothing properties that helps to reduce inflammation. It also helps to increase urine production and has lithotriptic properties that help to break down kidney stones.
These Ayurvedic medicines can be taken in the form of capsules, powders or decoctions. It is best to consult with an Ayurvedic physician before taking any of these herbs.
Healthy diet tips to prevent and treat kidney stones
A healthy diet is important for overall health and can help to reduce the risk of kidney stones. A diet that is high in animal protein, salt, and sugar can increase the risk of stone formation. Conversely, foods that are high in fiber, magnesium, and citric acid can help to prevent stone formation. Some specific dietary tips that may help to prevent or treat kidney stones include:
Drinking adequate fluids is essential for preventing kidney stones. Also, it will help to dilute the concentration of stone-forming minerals in the urine and increase the amount of urine produced. This can help you to dissolve and pass the stone with urine. Water is the best option, but other fluids such as lemonade, herbal tea, and cranberry juice can also be helpful.
2. Lean Proteins
Reducing animal protein intake: Animal protein can increase the levels of uric acid and calcium in the urine, which can lead to stone formation. It is important to limit meat, poultry, and fish intake. Choose leaner cuts of meat and poultry, and limit processed meats.
3. Calcium Foods
Eat more calcium-rich foods. Calcium binds to oxalate in the gut and prevents it from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, and calcium-fortified foods such as orange juice and tofu.
4. Low Salt Intake
Limiting salt intake: A high salt diet can increase the amount of calcium in the urine, which can lead to stone formation. It is important to limit salt intake by avoiding processed foods and adding salt to food.
5. Low Sugar Intake
Limit sugar intake. A diet high in sugar can increase the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are associated with an increased risk of stone formation.
6. Fruits & Vegetables
Eat more fruits and vegetables. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is high in fiber and low in animal protein, both of which can help to prevent stone formation.
If you are struggling to make these dietary changes on your own, it may be helpful to consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist. They can help you create a healthy eating plan that meets your individual needs.
Lifestyle changes to prevent and treat kidney stones
There are a number of lifestyle changes that can help to prevent and treat kidney stones. These changes include:
Drinking plenty of fluids: Drinking plenty of fluids helps to keep the urine diluted and prevents stone formation. It is important to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing kidney stones. It is important to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise.
Exercising regularly: Exercise can help to promote overall health and prevent obesity, which can reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Avoiding crash diets: Crash diets can lead to weight loss that is too rapid, which can increase the risk of stone formation. It is important to avoid fad diets and to lose weight slowly and steadily.
Reduce stress: Stress can promote the formation of kidney stones. It is important to manage stress through relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.
Avoid hot temperature: Hot temperatures can increase the risk of dehydration, which can lead to kidney stones. It is important to avoid hot tubs, saunas, and hot baths.
Wearing loose-fitting clothes: Wearing loose-fitting clothes can help to prevent irritation of the urinary tract, which can lead to kidney stones.
If you are struggling to make these lifestyle changes on your own, it may be helpful to consult with a health care professional. They can provide guidance and support to help you reach your goals.
If you are suffering from kidney stones, don’t hesitate to seek out professional help. Ayurvedic doctors are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of gallstones and can create a personalized treatment plan to suit your needs. Kidney stones don’t have to control your life. With the right treatment, you can get rid of renal stones for good and find relief from your symptoms.
Consult with Medhya’s Ayurvedic Doctor to get your personalised health plan involving prescription for Ayurvedic medicine, diet, yoga and lifestyle guidelines.
Can kidney stones affect bowel movement?
Kidney stones are most commonly made up of calcium salts. They can also be made of other substances such as uric acid or cystine. Stones form when there is an imbalance in the substances that make up urine. If kidney stones stay in the kidney, they do not usually cause any problems. However, if they move into the ureters (the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder), they can block the flow of urine and cause severe pain. In some cases, the stones may also cause nausea, vomiting, and fever. Kidney stones can affect bowel movement because they can cause constipation. When stones block the ureters, they prevent urine from draining from the kidney and flowing out of the body. This can cause an increase in pressure in the kidney, which can lead to constipation. Constipation can also be caused by other factors such as a lack of fiber in the diet or a lack of fluids. If you are having problems with bowel movement, it is important to talk to your doctor so that he or she can determine the cause and provide treatment if necessary.
What are the first signs of kidney problems?
Early kidney damage may have no symptoms at all. That’s why it’s important to get tested for kidney disease if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history of the disease. Other risk factors include being over age 60, being of African American, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian descent, and having a history of heart disease or stroke.
If kidney disease is found early, treatments can be started that may slow or stop its progression. However, once kidney damage is severe, it is difficult to treat. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the first signs of kidney problems so that treatment can be started as soon as possible.
Side pain just below the ribs could be a sign that something is wrong with your kidneys. If you are experiencing this pain on a regular basis, see your doctor so that they can order the appropriate tests. Another early symptom of kidney disease is changes in urination. If you notice that you are urinating more frequently than usual or that your urine is cloudy or dark-colored, these could be signs that your kidneys are not functioning properly. Blood in the urine is also an early symptom of kidney disease and should always be checked out by a doctor. Swelling in the ankles , feet, or legs can also be an early sign of kidney disease, as can fatigue and general malaise.
Can a 7mm kidney stone dissolve?
A kidney stone is a solid mass made up of tiny crystals. One of the most common types of kidney stones is made of calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate stones can vary in size, but they are usually small, pebble-sized pieces. The 7mm kidney stone is on the larger side, but it is still possible for it to dissolve. However, the larger the stone, the longer it will take to dissolve. Treatment options for a 7mm kidney stone include taking medication to help break down the stone or undergoing surgery to remove the stone. Some people may also choose to wait and see if the stone will pass on its own. Ayurvedic herbs can be very effective in helping to dissolve kidney stones. Herbs such as aloe vera, turmeric, and ginger have all been shown to help break down stones and promote kidney health. If you are considering taking herbs to treat your kidney stones, be sure to speak with an Ayurvedic doctor first.