Naturopathic Treatment for Kidney Stones
From a naturopathic perspective, kidney stones that do not occur as a result of a genetic or metabolic disorder are considered to be a diet-related condition. Proper nutrition can support healthy kidney function and may discourage stone formation, and natural therapies may help ease the pain and spasm that accompanies stone passage. Kidney stone treatment should be undertaken only after a physician has made a definitive diagnosis.
The following nutritional recommendations may help to prevent stone formation or recurrence:
- Eat a whole foods diet that contains leafy green vegetables, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish and poultry in small portions. Include foods that have a high ratio of magnesium to calcium such as brown rice, bananas, oats, barley, and soy, and that are high in fiber such as oat bran, psyllium seed husk, and flaxseed meal.
- Drink a minimum of 50% of body weight in ounces of water daily (e.g., a 150 lb person would drink 75 oz of water). Proper hydration helps prevent the urine from becoming concentrated with crystals, which can lead to stone formation; and reduces the risk for urinary tract infections, which may lessen the risk for struvite stones. Urine color can indicate the level of concentration: dark or bright yellow urine indicates highly concentrated urine; pale or colorless urine indicates dilute urine.
- Avoid sugar (check ingredients for hidden sources of sugar), alcohol, antacids, excessive protein, dairy products (especially milk), salt, carbonated beverages, caffeine, and refined white flour products such as pasta, white bread, and baked goods.
Supplements & Kidney Stones
- Magnesium citrate–Take 500 mg daily. Low magnesium intake has been linked to stone formation. Magnesium supplementation may decrease the size of an existing stone and prevent further formations. Citrate supplementation may prevent further stone formation.
- Vitamin B-6–Take 25 mg daily. A B-6 deficiency increases urinary oxalate, which may lead to kidney stones.
Herbal medicines usually do not have side effects when used appropriately and at suggested doses. Occasionally, an herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients, such as synthetic binders or fillers. For this reason, it is recommended that only high-quality products be used. As with all medications, overdosing can lead to serious illness and death.
These herbs are sometimes used to ease the discomfort associated with stone passage:
- Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)–Acts as a diuretic and antiseptic for the urinary tract.
- Cleavers (Galium aparine)–Has a history of use in treatment of congestive kidney disorders, stones, and urinary infections.
- Corn silk (Zea mays)–A soothing demulcent with mild diuretic properties.
- Crampbark (Viburnum opulus)–Relaxes smooth muscle and is an antispasmodic.
- Gravel root (Eupatorium purpureum)–Named for its traditional use as a treatment for stones and gravel of the kidneys.
- Kava kava (Piper methysticum)–Has antianxiety and sedative qualities.
- Khella (Ammi visnagi)–Has a long tradition in the treatment of kidney stones. Scientific research has demonstrated that the herb may work as a calcium channel blocker-type antispasmodic, which targets and relaxes ureter tissue. This may allow easier passage of small stones.
- Seven barks (Hydrangea aborescens)–Has a sedative effect on the urinary system; used in the treatment of kidney stones.
- Stone root (Collinsonia canadensis)–Strong diuretic with a history of use in acute and preventative treatment of kidney stones.