I recently had the honor of writing a chapter for the 4th edition of the Textbook for Natural Medicine on Kidney Stones.
If you have never experienced a passing of a kidney stone, the pain is excruciating often compared to giving birth. In fact, women who have had both arduous experiences would often say kidney stones are more painful.
Here are some facts:
Men are 3 times more prone to developing kidney stones than women
There 4 types of stones:
- Calcium stones are by far the most common. They occur more often in men than in women, and usually appear between ages 20 – 30. They are likely to come back. Calcium can combine with other substances, such as oxalate (the most common substance), phosphate, or carbonate to form the stone. Oxalate is present in certain foods. Diseases of the small intestine increase the risk of forming calcium oxalate stones.
- Cysteine stones form in people who have cystinuria. This disorder runs in families and affects both men and women.
- Struvite stones are mostly found in women who have a urinary tract infection. These stones can grow very large and can block the kidney, ureter, or bladder.
- Uric acid tones are more common in men than in women. They can occur with gout or chemotherapy.
Once a kidney stone does occur, there is a 50% chance of recurrence within 5 to 7 years if there is no treatment.
What should stone formers do:
- Hydration, Hydration, Hydration (I sound like a real estate broker donâ€™t I) – studies suggest over 2 liters a day of water is best ( Borghi et al. 1996). This can also be in the form of lemon juice, which also seems to help.
- Vitamin C – the most common type of vitamin C is Ascorbic acid (AA). Typically, AA turns into Oxalic acid, the chemical that attaches to calcium and creates stones (calcium oxalates.) There has been some debate as to whether or not AA contributes to stone formation. The very latest research DOES suggest a link between AA and kidney stone formation. In one study, Ester C (not AA vitamin C) proved to cause much less oxalates in the urine in comparison to AA (Moyad et al. 2009)
- Inositol hexaphosphate (also known as phytic acid or IP6) , is a naturally occurring compound found in whole grains, cereals, legumes, seeds, and nuts, is known for its antineoplastic activity. One trial, showed the use of 120mg of IP-6 significantly reduced the formation of calcium oxalate crystals in the urine of people with a history of kidney stone formation in 15 days (Grasses et al. 1999) IP6 is useful for prostate cancer and breast cancer support as well for it seems to have anti-cancer benefits.
- Diet Donâ€™tâ€™s: salt, excess meats, fructose and sport drinks (Taylor & Curhan 2008)
In Optimal Health,
L. Borghi, T. Meschi, F. Amato, A. Briganti, A. Novarini and A. Giannini, Urinary volume, water and recurrences in idiopathic calcium nephrolithiasis: a 5-year randomized prospective study, J Urol 155 (1996), pp. 839â€“843
Moyad MA, Combs MA, Crowley DC, Baisley JE, Sharma P, Vrablic AS, Evans M. Vitamin C with metabolites reduce oxalate levels compared to ascorbic acid: a preliminary and novel clinical urologic finding. Source: Urologic Nursing [1053-816X] Moyad yr:2009 vol:29 iss:2 pg:95 -102
Grases F, Costa-Bauza A. Phytate (IP6) is a powerful agent for preventing calcifications in biological fluids: usefulness in renal lithiasis treatment. Anticancer Res 1999;19:3717â€“22.
Taylor EN, Curhan GC (2008) Fructose consumption and the risk of kidney stones. Kidney Int 73:207â€“212.