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Kidney Stones

There is a worldwide increase in the number of individuals affected by kidney stones, though this has been gradual-the increase in incidence is never the less real. Compared to the number of individuals affected by kidney stones at the turn of the twentieth century, the number of cases of kidney stone formation at the present time is at least ten times as many patients. Correlated to this phenomenon is the actual rise in the amount of animal proteins consumed by the population and the consequent rise in disorders like heart disease, problems like gallstones, the incidence of high blood pressure and diabetes all of which have shown an increasing connection with the standard North American diet consumed by the majority of the population. As a demographic group, kidney stones affects a minimum of about ten percent of all males and is apparent in five percent of all females, in an average lifetime, the majority of victims are also thirty years of age or above.

The actual compounds that form kidney stones within the kidneys are the mineral calcium along with deposits of oxalic acid. At times kidney stones can also be formed due to the deposition of uric acid along with other mixed minerals and amino acids which accumulate in the kidneys-such stones are however rare in occurrence. Prevention and therapeutic programs are much more effective if the type of stone and its formation is determined correctly beforehand with the help of diagnostic techniques. The mineral of a stone can usually be analyzed when a kidney stone is passed in the urine and if this stone removed with the help of a strainer-this identification of the composition of the stone will enable correct diagnosis and prompt treatment measures can then be taken. Stones may not always be easy to retrieve from the urine and if such retrieval is not possible, the best alternative diagnostic tool is to evaluate the physiological conditions of the body via a number of blood and urine tests to check levels of minerals like calcium, uric acid and creatinine and at the same time to check the electrolyte levels. Tests such as a twenty-four hour urinalysis for minerals, techniques like urine culture and hair mineral analysis can also help determine the composition of the stone and are great diagnostic aids in the fight against kidney stones. The composition of the stone will be easy to determine from undertaking a combination of these testing techniques-correct diagnosis of the composition will enable the medical technician to design the most effective preventive or therapeutic measures.

Prevention is possible in the majority of cases that concern individual affected by kidney stones-indeed many people are affected by kidney stones precisely because they did not take preventive steps when such steps were necessary. Unfortunately no change in the dietary regimen or the use of any supplement can reverse the formation of a kidney stone once the stone has formed in the kidney. Though there are many ways to prevent the condition from worsening and the problem from getting out of hand, the majority of kidney stone sufferers require immediate medical attention-serious cases should always be treated as a medical emergency. The use of a careful regimented dietary regimen and the use of nutritional supplements alone can actually ward off some of the acute attacks of pain caused by the presence of a kidney stone in the body-such effects have been observed in some patients and the relief from pain can be significant. When the stone becomes trapped in the passage leading from the kidney to the urinary bladder, the kidney stones can cause the person excruciating pain if they become lodged in the passage leading from each kidney to the bladder. The lodging of such stones in the passageway can bring on colicky discomfort to the patient, such sensations are characterized by pain that passes in waves along the body, this waves peak and subside in intensity and are attempts made by the body to dislodge the stone stuck in the passage. The effects of these painful sensations at their highest intensities can cause the affected patient to double up in pain and to writhe about; these colics needless to say are one of the main symptoms of a kidney stone. Physical symptoms felt by the patient also include nausea, vomiting and fever is also often apparent. These painful waves can radiate across the area of the lower belly and sometimes down the thigh bringing a lot of discomfort to the affected individual.

Urinary problems are also apparent as symptoms of a kidney stone even though the presence of the painful sensation looms over all other physical symptoms. Urine produced by the patient is contaminated with blood and sediment and the affected person suffers from a persistent urge to urinate at all times of the day and the night. Without the presence of any of the severity associated with a colic kidney, many of the milder attacks caused by a kidney stone include lower-back pain along one side of the body. It also happens that, in many cases, individuals are not even aware that they are affected by kidney stones as such stones constantly remain in the kidney unnoticed or are just passed without the presence of pain or any physical symptoms during urination. Kidney stones show a great deal of variation in sizes-ranging in size from stones no bigger than a kernel of rice some as big as tennis ball. The risk of infection always exists with kidney stones that can inhibit urinary flow because of their presence in the passage ways connecting the kidneys and the urinary bladder. Though much rarer in occurrence and usually disappearing without symptoms, many of these kidney stones can also form in the bladder. Urine in the blood, bladder pain can also be brought on at times by the presence of the stone in a position which hinders urination. As a demographic group more men than women are affected by kidney stones.

Kidney stones form due to the accumulation of various minerals within the kidneys-the crystallization of these collected minerals forms the actual stone over a long period of time. Kidney stone formation is much more likely to occur when a person has highly concentrated urine, since such urine will contain many more substances capable of undergoing crystallization-such urine is passed by individuals who drink too little water. Consuming very little water will force the kidneys to work harder in retaining fluids and this leads to the production of a very concentrated urine at all times. Flushing out all excess minerals and other substances is easier for a body when the person drinks plenty of fluids, the kidneys do not have to work very hard at retaining water and it is easy to rid the body of all accumulated stores of unwanted minerals. Concentrated urine production may also affect individuals who consume a diet which is very high in animal proteins. In addition, many studies conducted on vegetarians show that they are the least likely individuals in a population to develop kidney stones at any stage of life. The vulnerability of a person to a repeated incident of kidney stone formation is increased if the person is affected by any infections which interfere with the passage of fluids in the bladder-the person may have recurring stone formation in the kidneys if these infections affect the person over a long period of time.

The consumption of foods rich in calcium does not necessary lead to an incidence of kidney stones, even though there is a strong correlation between a high calcium diet and kidney stone formation-many individuals eat high calcium foods over a long period of time but suffer from no cases of kidney stones in anyway whatsoever. Calcium in the body may even in some cases be responsible for their prevention. The absorptive capacity of the body to calcium determines the difference between a food which is calcium-friendly and one that is not considered so. Adequate absorption of calcium from the normal diet precludes the need for the body to dissolve calcium in the bone, which might raise the calcium level in the blood of the person. Very high calcium lying free in the blood is the cause of kidney stone formation as this blood gets filtered in the kidneys, and calcium deposits form over a long period of time if the blood calcium level remains high for the same period of time.

Kidney stones and many bone disorders can be worsened if the diet is very rich in large amounts of foods high in calcium-these include products that are dairy based, the continual use of these foods increase the chances of the disorder worsening - in particular conditions such as osteoporosis in individuals who are already affected. The presence of allergies, conditions such as lactose intolerance in the person and the consumption of high phosphorous or high fat content dairy products can lead to a poor absorption of calcium from the normal diet. Aside from dairy products that are not fermented, the use of calcium sources such as those obtained from plants such as green vegetables and beans by the body is better, calcium from such sources is better absorbed and utilized-much better than those sourced from milk. The significantly lower rates in incidence of kidney stones, disorders like osteoporosis and conditions such as arthritis in cultures that do not use dairy products around the world could be a prove of this fact.

Kidney stones are mostly formed from salts of calcium oxalate even though there are different types of stones formed from other minerals. The possibility of some undetected and underlying condition must be investigated if the kidney stones are a recurring problem, as it is known that many disorders with the levels of blood-calcium, such as illnesses like hyperparathyroidism can cause stones to form in the kidneys. Stone formation is commonly caused by very poor eating habits and problems related to an existing imbalance of essential substances in the blood which are necessary for the regulation of calcium removal via the urine. Also playing a very major and important role is the typical North American diet which is very rich in many fiber-refined foods, and refined products like pastas, white rice and white flour, aside from all the processed foods that are easily available in the markets. These foods must be replaced with a lot of whole grains and raw foods such as fruits and vegetables. Oxalates can be easily removed from the diet though the complete removal of calcium as such is not recommended for anybody. Many common food items like the spinach, the rhubarb and chocolate are rich in oxalates and these can be avoided in the diet.

A urinary bladder that is not completely emptied is likely to increase the chances of bladder stone formation as are more stones are easier to form when urine accumulates for sometime-giving the salts of calcium a chance to precipitate into solids. The sediment in the urine which is left in the bladder often contains all the ingredients to form stones and this is the first reason why urinary bladders must always be emptied. A poor ability to completely eliminate urine may again be related to an enlarged prostate, and this factor should be kept in mind and examined by a doctor. While they are rapidly washed away in the urine, the so called bladder stones can also form and always originate in the kidneys and are usually deposited in the bladder after migrating from there-they do not cause as many problems as stones in the kidneys.

Supplements and herbs

While the use of the following supplements will work wonders, the majority of kidney stones already formed are liable to recur if emergency and proper steps are not immediately taken-this includes an improved dietary regimen. The chances of calcium deposits forming in the kidneys is also lessened by supplements of the mineral magnesium, which acts to protect the kidneys from deposits of calcium accumulating in any significant amount. Indeed, kidney stones almost always result whenever there is a lack of magnesium in the body. The formation of kidney stones is also possible if there exist a deficiency of the vitamin B6 in the body of the individual, this vitamin regulates the proper utilization of oxalic acid within the body and a deficiency will lead to stone formation. To achieve the best results, use supplements of the vitamin B6 along with supplements of the mineral magnesium. The best way to supplement the B vitamins is to take a B complex as such supplements are best utilized by the body when taken together.

The supplements of the vitamin A are vital in the restoration and healing of damaged mucous membranes along the internal lining of the urinary tract and the bladder. A common protein found in the urine is formed with the help of the vitamin K and supplements of this compound are required by the body for this purpose as this protein inhibits the calcium oxalate deposition within the kidney. As the vitamin K is not widely available as a supplemental compound taking the green food supplements will provide the necessary vitamin K required by the body. The prevention of kidney stones can also be promoted by supplements of the essential amino acid glutamine. Supplements should also include another essential mineral-namely potassium, this mineral keeps the calcium in urine suspended in a fluid state, and actively prevents it from settling inside the kidneys and thus protects the kidneys against stone formation. In diets consisting mainly of refined or processed foods, there is very little or insufficient amounts of the mineral potassium and such a deficiency in the diet must be rectified by supplementation. The recurrence of kidney stones is often prevented through supplemental potassium citrate taken in a daily or regular basis.

A vegetarian diet can help those with uric acid kidney stones, if these are supplemented with supplements such as folic acid, minerals like magnesium, and the vitamins B6 along with potassium citrate. In approximately twenty to sixty percent of all patients having kidney stones, the levels of citrate is very low. Individuals affected by kidney stones must avoid all drinks that contain alcohol because this will increase the excretion of uric acid, calcium and phosphate-putting more strain on the kidneys and causing larger stones to form. Kidney stone formation is prevented by the presence of the vitamin B6 and the mineral magnesium in sufficient quantities, both of these substances are removed by alcohol and this is another reason why alcoholic drinks must be avoided.

The incidence of kidney stones is also increased by the presence of an excess amount of cadmium in the body of an individual. High levels of the metal cadmium can be removed with the aid of supplemental zinc, supplements of the vitamin B6, and the use of the mineral magnesium along with the vitamin C on a regular basis. People who have a medical history of kidney stones in the family must make sure that they do not include the amino acid L-cysteine in any form in the daily diet. Accumulated levels of this amino acid can lead to kidney stone formation in individuals who already have some form of genetic or hereditary susceptibility to developing kidney stones.

The herbs and herbal remedies given here can be used in the activation of the kidneys and in the stimulation of urine secretion. These remedies will also help prevent the development of kidney stones.

The excretion of gravel and stones from the kidneys can be stimulated through the action of some herbs. Drinking the herbal tea of the horsetail can help in this regard; slowly sip one to two cups of the horsetail tea while soaking yourself in bathwater infused with the herbal essences of the horsetail over twenty minutes at a time on a regular or daily basis. After taking this bath, wear a warm cotton-terry robe and lie down letting yourself, sweat in bed for one hour immediately following the bath-this combination internal and topical treatment using the horsetail herb will help eliminate stones that have already formed in the body. Mineral accumulation and the dissolution of stones already formed within the kidneys can be achieved by drinking the thyme and knotgrass herbal tea two times every day. To produce the most effective effects on the kidney stones, combine these two herbal teas with an herbal tea made from the goldenseal herb along with some carrot juice. The albumin content in the urine can be reduced through the consumption of a tea made from birch leaves; this tea has a strong diuretic action. Prepare this herbal tea by boiling water containing a tsp. of dried and crushed birch leaves, drink three cups of this herbal tea on a daily basis for maximum effect. The birch leaves must be steeped thoroughly in the water for ten minutes; the tea must always be used unsweetened after carefully straining it using a strainer. The formation of kidney stones of calcium oxalate can be achieved by regular supplements of the vitamin B6- and by eating magnesium-rich herbs in the diet. Magnesium can also be sourced from chlorophyll, which itself is abounding in the herbal juices of herbs like the parsley, the dandelion, the alfalfa, the fennel, the dill and of course the horsetail. To provide the body with sufficient supplies of the essential mineral magnesium, take one tbsp. of one of these herbal juices every day. Topical treatment of the affected person can include placing a heated hay flower pack over the painful area, this pack can be heated using hot steam-such topical remedies can soothe the pain and alleviate the condition of the affected individual.

Additional things you may do

Take sitz baths to help you deal with the presence of shooting pains in area of the body above the kidney and the bladder, especially if such painful sensations come accompanied by a fever with shivers and vomiting. Regularly drink a fluid which stimulates the production of urine while sitting in the bath, these fluids include mineral water and other fluids.

Usual dosage

  • Vitamin A, 25,000 IU daily (avoid during pregnancy).
  • Vitamin B complex, 50 mg.
  • Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate, 50mg.
  • Vitamin C mineral ascorbate, 1,000 mg.
  • Magnesium, 500 mg.
  • Potassium citrate, 2,500 mg.
  • Folic acid, 25-50 mg.
  • Glutamine, 300 mg.
  • Green food supplements.

Other beneficial herbs

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