Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Kidney stones, or calculi, are hardened mineral deposits that form in the kidneys. 35,000 Americans a year suffer from kidney stones. While they are usually painless, when larger stones dislodge and enter the urinary tract they can cause symptoms such as:
Severe pain in the back, belly, or groin
Nausea and/or vomiting
There are four types of kidney stones formed by different crystals in the kidneys, and before treatment the stone type should be determined in order to guarantee the most effective treatment. These four types are:
Calcium stones (the most common)
Struvite stones (commonly found in women, especially with frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Uric acid stones (usually found in gout patients or patients with genetic disorders, caused by improper protein metabolism)
Cystine stones (least common, caused by genetic disorder)
Regardless of the type of stone, with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) kidney stones can be passed more quickly and the pain relieved naturally during the process.
Traditional Chinese Medicine for Kidney Stones
Acupuncture can be used to relax the muscles surrounding the urinary tract and dilate the ureter to help the stones pass more easily. Acupuncture also increases blood circulation through the kidneys to encourage urination and break up crystal formation that leads to kidney stones. Improved circulation will help to decrease inflammation and pain caused by passing the stone.
Chinese herbal formulas focus on decreasing inflammation and can be used to shrink the size of stones to help them pass, as well as to promote healthier liver function.
Tamsusolin (Flomax) is a common Western medication prescribed to pass kidney stones. Studies have found Flomax ineffective on its own for actually speeding up stone passage. When combined with Chinese herbal medicine in clinical study, treatment had a total effective rate of 73.6%. The addition of acupuncture gave greater pain relief to all patients and improved treatment success rate by 15%.
Dietary Adjustments for Kidney Stones
Proper hydration is key to preventing crystal formation in the kidneys. Decreasing the amounts of sugar, alcohol, and overly processed and refined foods in the diet will also help improve kidney function.
Poor magnesium intake has also been linked to kidney stone formation. Foods that have a high ratio of magnesium to calcium can help prevent kidney stones, including:
For a more comprehensive list of dietary adjustments based on individual diagnosis, consult with a licensed functional medicine practitioner.
If you or a loved one are battling the pain of passing kidney stones, Traditional Chinese Medicine can help! Call us at (321) 972-2940 to schedule your initial consultation today.
Crowell, A. "Treating Kidney Stones with Asian Medicine and Holistic Nutrition." (February 1st, 2017). Retrieved from http://aprilcrowell.com/asian-medicine/treating-kidney-stones-with-asian-medicine-holistic-nutrition/
HealthCMI. "Acupuncture and Herbs Force Expulsion of Kidney Stones." (December 5, 2017). Retrieved from http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1807-acupuncture-and-herbs-force-expulsion-of-kidney-stones
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. "Oriental Medicine Offers Natural Remedies for Kidney Stones." (May 14, 2015). Retrieved from https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/press-releases/2015/05/14/oriental-medicine-offers-natural-remedies-kidney-stones