Did you know that kidney stones and sand among most frequent pathologies that affect the urinary tract? In Spain alone, more than one and a half million people are affected and around 100,000 new cases appear every year. However, the fight against kidney stones is not a lost battle. There is a natural way to successfully treat and prevent them.
How kidney stones form
Kidney stones are deposits of chemical substances (usually mineral salts) which, although usually dissolved in the urine, can accumulate in the kidney and cause what we know as sand. This sand is expelled naturally through the urine, but if it increases in size, kidney stones appear. If the size of these stones increases, they may affect the normal functioning of the kidney.
The most frequent kidney stones are those that are formed of calcium oxalate and uric acid. Kidney stone formation is closely related to dietary habits. The causes include not drinking enough liquids and following a diet that is low in fibre and very high in protein, salt and oxalate (mineral salts contained in some vegetables). But these are not the only factors; men, for example, are three times more likely than women to suffer from kidney stones. A history of kidney stones in the family, the use of certain medications and abnormalities of the kidney should also be taken into account.
How to treat kidney stones
Although 60-70% of kidney stones are spontaneously eliminated in the urine, the 30-40% remaining cases require treatment, because the stones can be deposited in the kidney or the urinary tract, compromising their good functioning and blocking the flow of urine, apart from causing intense pain. Preventive treatment is very important because, if not, the possibility of suffering a new episode after 5 years is very high, up to 50%.
The two most important ways of preventing the formation of kidney stones are to follow a balanced diet and to increase intake of water and elimination of liquids. A higher volume of urine every day decreases the concentration of salts and ensures that sand is carried away.
We should remember that expelling urine is an essential process to eliminate waste substances. If we drink plenty of water, our kidneys work better, our blood is cleansed better and the risk of kidney stones is reduced.
Besides diet, we should also remember the important role that the use of medicinal plants (phytotherapy) has traditionally played in treating this problem.
Studies (1) exist to scientifically explain how certain plants, such as herniaria, act to reduce and dissolve kidney stones and help to prevent them from forming again. The diuretic properties of certain medicinal plants have also been demonstrated. Such plants include couch grass, elderflower and horsetail. All these plants, combined, provide an excellent natural remedy.
(1) Atmani F. , & Khan, S.R. Effects of an extract from Herniaria hirsute on calcium oxalate crystallization in vitro. BJU International, 85 (6). 621. 2000.
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