Kidney stones are excruciatingly painful when they are too large to pass through the urinary tract. Yet, kidney stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary system. People make more than a million visits to their health care providers and more than 300,000 people go to the emergency room for kidney stone problems each year. As usual, a poor diet is to blame, but taking an Amazonian herb known as chanca piedra, and making the right shifts in your diet can help you remove kidney stones and avoid ever experiencing that pain again.
How kidney stones form
Typically, a kidney stone is a result of a saturation of minerals and acid salts in your urine, such as calcium and uric acid, which then crystallize into solid masses. This can happen if you don’t drink enough fluids and if your urine is highly acidic or highly alkaline.
Kidney stones often contain crystals of various types with calcium as the main ingredient. The most common types of stones are calcium oxalate stones which make up to 75% of all cases.
Some believe that to avoid kidney stones you need to reduce your calcium intake because it is a part of the stone, but it’s believed by many well known health professionals that it is not a wise strategy. This is because calcium actually binds to oxalates and helps you excrete it in other ways than through your urine.
Signs you may have kidney stones
Other than a pain that has been described as more debilitating than childbirth, there are a few ways you can recognize the signs of kidney stones. They include:
Pain in your side, between your rib cage and your hips
Varying levels of painful episodes, between 20 and 60 minutes
Bloody, cloudy, or foul smelling urine
Nausea and vomiting
Feeling of urgency to urinate and/or painful urination
Fever and chills
There are a number of things to consider when evaluating your diet to avoid future episodes of kidney stones, in addition to any herbal treatments.
One of the first things to understand are the foods that can promote the formation of kidney stones. They include:
Foods high in sugar that upset the mineral balance in your body by interfering with calcium and magnesium absorption
Soda, which contains copious amounts of sugar and is high in phosphoric acid (diet sodas are no better or worse)
Oxalate rich foods including spinach, rhubarb, chocolate, parsley, beetroot, strawberries, wheat flour, pepper, and nuts
So limit or avoid these types of foods as much as possible when you have kidney stone problems.
You also want to understand that a food rich in organic produce and pure water is essential in limiting and helping dissolve kidney stones over time. Some important foods to really consider (that can dissolve kidney stones and/or contain important nutrients to help with their effective removal) include:
This will give you the best opportunity to reduce the size of stones you may currently have and limit any build up of ones that may otherwise have been in your future. Keep in mind that once you have had a kidney stone attack, your chance of recurrence is 70-80%. The younger you are when you have your first attack, the greater the risk of recurrence.
Chanca piedra – The ultimate stone breaker
Chanca piedra (also known as phyllanthus herb) is a small, erect weed-like herb that grows 30-40 cm in height. It is indigenous to the rain forests of the Amazon and other tropical areas throughout the world.
Chanca piedra means “stone breaker” or “shatter stone”. It was named for its effective use by generations of Amazonian indigenous peoples in eliminating kidney stones and gallstones. It is a leading and highly effective natural remedy for kidney stones throughout South America and is generally used as a mild laxative and to reduce pain, expel intestinal gas, stimulate and promote digestion, and expel worms.
Chanca piedra is a rich source of plant chemicals, and many of its active constituents are attributed to biologically active lignans, glycosides, flavonoids, alkaloids, ellagitannins, and phenylpropanoids found in the leaf, stem, and root of the plant.
Chanca piedra has been the subject of many studies, including:
In 1990, the Paulista School of Medicine in Sao Paulo, Brazil, conducted studies with humans and rats with kidney stones. They were given a simple tea made of chanca piedra for 1-3 months and it was reported that the tea promoted elimination of stones. They also reported a significant increase in urine output as well as sodium and creatine excretion.
In 1990, Nicole Maxwell reported that Dr. Wolfram Wiemann treated over 100 kidney stone patients with chanca piedra obtained from Peru and found it to be 94% effective in eliminating stones within a week or two.
In a 1999 in vitro clinical study a chanca piedra extract exhibited the ability to block the formation of calcium oxalate crystals (the building blocks of most kidney stones) which indicates it may be useful as a preventative aid for people with a history of kidney stones.
In a 2002 in vivo study, researchers seeded the bladders of rats with calcium oxalate crystals and treated them for 42 days with a water extract of chanca piedra. Their results indicated that chanca piedra strongly inhibited the growth of a number of stones formed over the control groups.
In 2003, scientists again confirmed in vitro that chanca piedra could help prevent the formation of kidney stones, stating “that it may interfere with the early stages of stone formation and may represent an alternative form of treatment and/or prevention of urolithiasis”.
Chanca piedra has also been used for gallstones, and while no research has specifically validated this use, one study does indicate that chanca piedra has an effect on gallbladder processes. In a 2002 study, it was reported that chanca piedra increased bile acid secretion in the gallbladder.
People with heart conditions, women trying to get pregnant, those with hypoglycemia, and anyone taking diuretics should consult their doctor before taking chanca piedra due to its possible contraindications.
Alternative Medicine – The Definitive Guide. Trivieri and Anderson. Second Edition. 2002.