Kidney Stones & Homeopathy

Kidney Stones

Words: Dr Minati SAHA

Kidney stones, or renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis, are not a contemporary phenomenon. They have been known, or documented, since ancient times.

They are called ‘kidney stones’ owing to their distinctive similitude to garden pebbles. They form in the ‘craters’ of the renal accumulating system from metabolic by-products found in the urine in high concentrations. The constituents first precipitate as microscopic crystals and ‘assemble,’ in due course, into a solid, ‘stony’ mass in the kidneys, or elsewhere, along the urinary tract — viz., the ureter, bladder, and urethra.

Interestingly, most patients having renal calculi, remain asymptomatic during the period, or ‘phase,’ of stone formation. What may manifest as a primary symptom is pain at the point of obstruction to the flow of urine. The accumulation of solid mineral deposits, or stones, in a majority of patients, or individuals, often triggers excruciating pain, usually in the lower back, just below the ribs, extending to the stomach and bladder too, when the calculi, or their derivatives, pass through the urinary tract.

Some patients tend to develop nausea, fever, chills, and haematuria [blood in the urine] during such a progression.

It may be noted that calculi of size over 5-6mm may just as well get stuck in the urinary tract, while others that are diminutive, or insignificant, in size and are mobile, may get excreted naturally.

Symptoms

  • Severe pain in lower back
  • Imprecise pain, or tummy ache that doesn’t wane
  • Blood in the urine
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fever/chills
  • Urine smells bad; or, appears hazy.

Causes

The most common cause associated with kidney stones is a low urine output. While inadequate fluid intake is the principal raison d’être for low output, the amount consumed is, however, not directly proportional to the quantity of urine formed. Excess fluid loss, for instance, through profuse sweating, or stomach infection [diarrhoea] may also compel the kidneys to flush less water in order to maintain normal hydration within the body. This may bid fair to concentrated urine — the trigger per se for stones. A low-fibre diet, certain systemic disorders [hyperparathyroidism, aside from chronic urinary disorders], including specific renal anomalies are other factors that may modify urinary concentration. A diet profoundly rich in dairy products may, likewise, promote calcium stone formation, just as much as high-protein intake, especially in individuals who are predisposed to stones.

Incidence

A host of dietary factors — with a low-fibre diet being the most overriding component across rural and urban areas — may lend credence to the fact that kidney stones are a common disorder in India. Statistics estimates that about 12-15 per cent of India’s populace may be susceptible to the condition. In addition, a fairly large number of kidney stone patients may present with renal damage, or failure.

Types Of Kidney Stones  

  • Calcium
  • Struvite
  • Uric acid

Calcium stones are, for the most part, or predominantly, diagnosed in our population; struvite stones are more common in women.

Prevention

Adequate hydration is a preventative measure of choice. It holds the key to flushing, or ‘purging,’ the kidney stones and their residual mineral deposits.

  • Increase fluid intake. Drink 12-18 cups of water daily
  • Eat more fresh, non-processed foods, like fruits and vegetables; also fresh meat
  • Follow a low salt/low sodium diet plan: 2,300mg for normal, healthy individuals. This should be limited to 1,500mg in individuals with hypertension, or heart disease
  • Limit meat intake: Restrict it to 6-8oz per day
  • Maintain a normal dietary calcium intake. Derive your calcium for high calcium foods [milk, yogurt/curd, cheese, kale, sardines etc.,]. This may help reduce stone formation
  • Increase your intake of citrus fruits [orange, lemon etc.,] and juices: Citrate inhibits stone formation
  • Avoid foods that are high in oxalate, viz., spinach and other greens, berries, beet, chocolate, French fries, nuts, nut-butter, and soy products.

Homeopathic Treatment

Homeopathic treatment provides useful therapeutic outcomes — it facilitates the safe passage of calculi, provided they are not too large and/or portend to cause obstruction and subsequent infection.

Treatment of renal calculi, from the homeopathic standpoint, is essentially based on the proviso that the stones are lodged in the lower calyx — not the upper calyx — of the kidneys. This is essentially keyed to three facets:

  • Provide relief from acute pain
  • Enable, or activate, excretory passage for the stones
  • Prevent recurrence.

Useful Homeopathic Remedies

  • Berberis vulgaris. Kidney infection with sensitivity and pain in the kidneys, as if water is attempting to ‘fizz’ through the skin. Urine is dark-yellow, or green, with a reddish, bran-like residue. Berberis may help in kidney stones when there is severe, sharp, neuralgic, or colicky pain ‘shooting’ from the kidneys to the bladder and down the lower limbs
  • Dioscorea villosa is classically prescribed to treat renal colic associated with kidney stones, along with sharp pains radiating down the testicles, or the lower limbs, accompanied by a cold, clammy sweat
  • Kali carbonicum. Kidney stones with ‘zipping’ pain in the small of the back. Pain is usually worse on the left side
  • Lycopodium clavatum. Is useful when there is urine with a sandy sediment caused by kidney stones. All symptoms are worse on the right side, especially between 4:00pm and 8:00pm
  • Nux vomica. This remedy is useful when the stone resides in the right kidney. The presence of renal colic and pain shooting to the rectum, with a strong urge for stools, is a keynote.

There are other equally useful homeopathic remedies for kidney stones — they are evidently best prescribed by a professional homeopath at the clinic.

Clinical Study

A prospective, multicentre observational study was conducted by the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy [CCRH], India, from October 2005 to January 2010 to ascertain the usefulness of homeopathic remedies in cases of urolithiasis. 901 cases were screened, out of which 311 cases were enrolled and 220 cases were analysed. The symptoms pertaining to urolithiasis were assessed before and after treatment. Pain, dysuria [painful urination] and haematuria were graded from 0-3 as per severity of complaints. Calculi were graded according to their number, size and position. The difference between the scores was assessed by using ‘Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test’ in SPSS Software [Version 16]. Of the 220 cases, there was expulsion of calculi in 106 cases [single calculus in 76 cases; multiple calculi in 30 cases] and in 114 cases, the calculi remained, but the symptom score reduced, indicating improvement in them. The symptom score at baseline and after treatment was analysed and found to be statistically significant [P<0.005]. The homeopathic remedies found most useful were Lycopodium clavatum in 40.9 per cent [n=90] cases; Sulphur in 12.3 per cent [n=27] cases; Pulsatilla nigricans in 8.2 per cent [n=18] cases; Nux vomica in 6.2 per cent [n=14] cases; and, Cantharis vesicatoria in 5.9 per cent [n=13] cases. Treatment with homeopathic remedies showed a positive response in dissolution, or expulsion, of calculi.

  • V A Siddiqui, Hari Singh, Nayak C, et al, “A Multicentre Observational Study to Ascertain the Role of Homeopathic Therapy in Urolithiasis Clinical Research,” Indian Journal of Research in Homeopathy, Vol 5, # 2, April-June 2011 [30-39].
Dr MINATI SAHA, BSc [Hons], DMS, is a homeopathic physician of repute with over 35+ years of clinical experience. She also specialises in classical homeopathic solutions to help her patients find respite from what may, otherwise, be difficult-to-treat diseases. Dr Saha earned her Diploma in Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery [DMS] from the prestigious Calcutta Homeopathic Medical College & Hospital [CHMCH]. She lives in Kolkata, India.

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