‘A stitch in time saves nine’, goes the old saying. Due to its lesser incidence, most people do not pay much attention to the silent crouching danger that kidney stones (renal calculi) pose to health, but then again, why worry when they are easy to avoid with just a few dietary precautions? Today we enumerate a small list of daily food items to use/avoid for healthy stone-free kidneys. (These are also useful for people already having stones, to prevent further aggravation).
First, the DON’Ts
In general, foods containing compounds that cause formation of stone crystals are the ones to be avoided. So, just as with the kidney stones, the two commonest classes of foods to be avoided are those containing –
- Green leafy veggies, specially spinach
- Amla (Indian gooseberry)
- Chikoo (Sapota)
- Cashew nuts
- Black grapes/currants
2. Uric acid/Purine
That being said,
Here, the focus is on foods that contain stone-dissolving compounds or having diuretic properties (increasing the production of urine, so that the smaller stones get passed automatically along with the flow).
1. Coconut water:
It contains electrolytes and bio-molecules that not only inhibit the mineral phase (initial stage) of the stone formation, but also promote demineralization of a pre-formed mineral phase.
2. Corn silk:
It is rich in tartarates, which act as good inhibitors of stone formation. It also acts as a diuretic and helps heal the internal lesions (wounds) caused by the stones, strengthening the inner cell linings of the urinary tract. It is recommended to drink corn silk tea daily in the morning on an empty stomach for patients suffering from or vulnerable to kidney stones.
It is a good daily food that also has diuretic action. It also exhibits healing and supportive properties and contains some stone inhibitors.
4. Pineapple juice:
Contains enzymes that breakdown fibrin, which can help in inhibiting certain types of stone formation processes. Also, it can increase normal urinary excretion of calcium by significant amounts, so that risk of calcium oxalate stones is reduced.
Contain high vitamin B1, which helps regulate the metabolism of oxalic acid in the body, that could otherwise cause oxalate stones if unchecked.
Contain high magnesium and potassium, which act as good inhibitors of stones.
Are rich in citrates that competitively react with and eliminate molecules that would otherwise react with oxalic acid to form oxalate stones.
Are rich in pyrophosphates and plant acids that act as stone inhibitors. Also provide Vitamin A, lack of which has sometimes been implicated in the pathogenesis of urinary bladder stone.
9. Bitter Gourd (Karela):
Contains multiple stone inhibitors like magnesium, phosphorus etc., and is also a good diuretic and urinary health tonic due to its dozens of useful phytochemicals.
10. Pure Water:
Yes, sufficient intake of PURE water. A number of modern industrial effluents or synthetic compounds that find their way into the urban drinking water supply are liable to create kidney stones. Make sure your water is free from them, and drink enough of it (minimum 2.5 litres a day for a person doing sedentary work). The only major exception is that, one should consult their doctor first, if one already has a large sized (>8 mm diameter) kidney stone present.
Now, where does Ayurveda figure out in all this?
I would say, this is just Ayurveda explained using modern scientific terms, as most of these and many more disease-specific do’s and don’ts (called ‘Patthyas‘ and ‘Apatthyas‘ in Sanskrit) have been described in Ayurvedic texts thousands of years ago, only in Ayurvedic terms of Vaata, Pitta and Kapha. What we did here is just compiling a more contemporary list explaining some modern scientific basis, so that a worldwide readership could appreciate it better.
However, the main question really is – can Ayurveda provide effective non-surgical curative treatments for existing kidney stones? The answer is, ‘Yes’ with a caution. Ayurveda defines an elaborate classification of kidney stones and provides detailed Dosha-based protocol for each type, that is practiced even today with more than significant success. Stones up to certain sizes in each type, having a complementary Dosha outlook and patient prakriti can efficiently be ridden using non-invasive Ayurvedic treatment. Beyond those limits, Ayurveda too, recommends surgical extraction of urinary stones. Patients should always consult a qualified Ayurvedic physician first to determine whether their case is within the range of conservative treatment or not.
In looking for Ayurvedic kidney stone treatments, it is important to stay alert of quacks. There is no recognized specialization of Nephrology/Urology in Ayurveda. So make sure the doctor you consult has a valid B.A.M.S. or M.S. (Ayurvedic General Surgery) degree, and ask to see their Council registration; it is a patient’s undeniable right. If a doctor describes themselves as a ‘Ayurvedic Urology specialist’, it more likely out of only prolonged experience, or out of quackery. Always stay vigilant.
Stay Healthy, stay Happy!
About the Author –
Dr. Harshad Rajandekar is an Ayurvedic physician based out of Nasik (MH), India, and is passionate about combining the best of old and new knowledge to create holistic healthcare solutions for all. His online/offline consultation booking info is available here.
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