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Stone Season Has Arrived

| August 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
These attractive herbs provide health benefits to the kidneys.

These attractive herbs provide health benefits to the kidneys.

by Charlotte Tenney MA Integrative Health

Our bodies give us lots of warning signals that allow us to make lifestyle adjustments to stay in physical and mental balance. Crystallized minerals in the urine, also known as kidney stones, are one of those signals. The symptoms can be subtle, such as persistent low-grade pain in the flanks or cloudy appearance to urine. It can also be dramatic with excruciating, stabbing cramping pain shooting from the low back down into the abdomen. As you might imagine, it is better to notice the lesser signs so your body does not need to send a more dramatic message.

Summer is prime “stone season” as we are prone to the conditions that favor the crystals to precipitate into solids. We are outdoors, physically active in the heat and may not be aware of becoming dehydrated. We are in vacation-mode or celebration-mode eating food that includes things that can change the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of our bodily fluids with things like sugary sweets, heavy protein meals, carbonated beverages that contain phosphoric acid and diuretic beverages like beer or alcoholic cocktails. We are sweating out of the electrolyte minerals that usually keep our blood and urine alkaline.

Since the body is a holistic system, an upset in one system, such as the kidney, will result in problems elsewhere. The pH change can make you more susceptible to infection at the same point in time that the precipitated crystals are cutting small tears into the tissues inside the kidney, ureter and bladder. Infection leads to inflammation. Once you have inflammation, the whole body is at risk for a wide variety of seemingly-unrelated problems: joint pain, blood pressure, depression and fatigue are just a few.

The first step is to pay attention and make some changes. Drinking more water is the obvious one; adding some electrolyte mineral salts will make that more effective. While I don’t advocate for Gatorade, its formulation was based in solid science with both salts and glucose to assist in hydrating the cells.

There is, however, good news in terms of natural and traditional healing support methods. Watermelon is both a natural hydrator and a gentle diuretic to improve kidney function to dissolve and flush out the crystalized calcium. Eating watermelon is even better if you choose to chew and eat the seeds.

Cranberry juice is the “go to” home remedy to prevent infections in the bladder. Doing a daily concoction of fresh lemon juice, olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar is a classic recommendation to improve the pH and dissolve the stones. (Mix two ounces of olive oil with two ounces of lemon juice, and drink the liquid. Follow with drinking 12 ounces of water mixed with one ounce of lemon juice and one tablespoon of vinegar. Do this several times a day, as possible.)

There are herbs that are so specific for treating the problem of kidney stones that their common names reflect their usage. Stonebreaker (Phyllanthus niuri) and gravel root (Eutrochium) are two that can be purchased easily in the supplements section of places like Whole Foods, Jimbos and Sprouts. But it can be easier, and more familiar to make some dietary changes. Focus on consuming more parsley, basil, celery, dandelion leaf, cucumbers and rosemary.

Hmmm…Doesn’t this appear to be the base for a great salad, “green smoothie” or fresh vegetable juice? You can also make a tea from herbs, including birch bark, goldenrod, plantain leaf and horsetail, juniper berries or even the leaves from the Manzanita bush. If you like gardening, these are all easily grown in your back yard. These can be mixed with pomegranate juice, cranberry juice or even refreshing watermelon juice. Consuming these drink combinations are a good way to support the kidney function.

Taking a positive initiative in response to the signals from your kidneys can prevent the imbalance in your body from spiraling out of control and becoming something more serious. Don’t ignore the signs.

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Category: Health & Fitness, Local News