Jothimalar S, 43, from Mettur, Tamil Nadu experienced pain near the abdomen. After a few days, she began to experience pain that radiated to the lower abdomen and groin region. She also had symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Her physician advised an ultrasound scan of the abdomen, which showed she had renal or kidney stones that were 3 to 4mm in size.
Kidney stones are the lumps or residues of minerals and salts that bind together in concentrated urine. They are formed inside the kidney and cause pain when passing through the urinary tract. Read more to know about kidney stones.
Jothimalar does not drink sufficient water and holds in urine for a long time. Initially, she managed the with painkillers.
Juice therapy to the rescue
Later she consulted a naturopath. “I was asked to consume tender coconut water, banana stem juice, and fruit juices for fifteen days. The doctor advised me to drink a lot of water and urinate frequently,” says Jothimalar. This intake is what experts call juice therapy, which helped improve her bladder function. “The stone passes naturally through urination during the sixth day,” she recalls.
Juice therapy is a type of naturopathic management in which a person is asked to consume plenty of liquids including plain water, barley water, vegetables and fruit juices, and limit cereal intake.
Vegetable juices of bottle gourd and ash gourd aid in reducing acidic content and making the blood and urine more alkaline. These juices also prevents urine from being concentrated, thereby preventing the recurrence of renal stones.
“Drinking 150 to 200ml of banana stem juice twice daily, five to six litres of water, and horse gram water are effective in the removal of renal stones through urination,” says Dr Sandeep.
Experts say that citric fruit juices are rich in vitamin C and help in the removal of waste products from the kidney. It includes orange juice, mosambi (sweet lime), and warm lemon juice with jaggery.
In naturopathy, a diabetic person with renal stones is asked to consume raw vegetables and fruits instead of taking juice therapy.
Treatment varies based on renal stone size
Dr Sandeep S, assistant professor, department of clinical naturopathy and research methodology, Government Nature Cure and Yoga Medical College, Mysuru, says, “Individuals with renal stones are unaware of the condition initially. They complain about pain near the abdomen and a burning sensation during urination.”
In naturopathy, the size of the renal stone determines the treatment. If the renal stone is less than 4mm, the condition can be managed with juice therapy, hydrotherapy, and yoga poses, say experts.
The therapy involves staying in hospital for 10 to 15 days. An ultrasound scan is taken before and after the therapy to examine the renal stones. However, stones larger than 5mm require a modern therapeutic approach like lithotripsy, besides diet modification. Lithotripsy is a procedure in which ultrasonic energy is used to break large renal stones into fragments that eventually pass out of the body in the urine.
Diet therapy to manage kidney stones
A study published in 2022 shows that dietary modification is also essential along with the medications that are used for the management of kidney stones. It includes high fluid intake, especially water, limited dietary calcium, restricted animal protein, and sodium.
“During the therapy, a high protein diet like meat, milk, and milk products should be avoided as they are difficult to digest. The individual should drink more juices and avoid tea and coffee,” adds Dr Sandeep.
According to a study published in 2020, adequate calcium intake is essential for bone and muscle activity. The kidneys and other organs help in balancing calcium levels in blood. However, in an individual with renal stones, there is an imbalance in the calcium level due to excess calcium excretion. Low calcium levels also result in renal stone formation. Hence, a balanced dietary calcium intake is essential to prevent kidney stones.
Read more dietary changes to manage kidney health here.
Hydrotherapy improves blood circulation and aids in optimal functioning of kidneys. A hot water bag is placed over the lumbar area (lower back) followed by the application of a cold bag over the abdomen. These methods are repeated alternatively for 30 to 40 minutes.
Dr Sandeep recommends the use of a castor oil pack as it helps in reducing abdominal discomfort and pain. Warm castor oil is applied over the stomach in a clockwise direction. A cotton cloth is then applied over the abdomen after dipping it in hot water.
Read more about Hydrotherapy here.
Benefits of yoga and exercise
The individual should follow physical exercise and yoga asanas after the therapy, which helps to prevent the formation of kidney stones.
Yoga poses like vajrasana (diamond pose), sasangasana (rabbit pose), bhujangasana (cobra stretch), naukasana (boat pose), and dhanurasana (bow pose) aid in abdominal stretching and improves blood circulation to the stomach and other internal organs like the kidneys.
Avoid the cause
The causes of renal stones include insufficient water intake, consumption of water from borewell (because the water contains calcium and magnesium), and carbonated drinks.
Dr Saumya Pathak, a naturopathy and yoga consultant from Chandigarh says, “Individuals with kidney stones should avoid red meat and seafood as they are rich in purines (a compound responsible for uric acid formation).” Excess uric acid production in the body may result in the formation of small kidney stones.
Post-therapy diet plan matters
Not following a healthy lifestyle increases the chances of kidney stone recurrence. Jothimalar also experienced a second episode of kidney stones after eight months. As per her doctor, she did not follow the post-therapy diet plan, which may have led to the recurrence.
Dr Pathak’s advice to prevent recurrence in adults:
- Consume banana stem juice or ash gourd juice once daily on an empty stomach
- Consume low protein diet restricted to 1gm/kg body weight
- Drink three litres of water daily
- Include kidney beans in the meals
- Restrict salt, sugar, alcohol, and wheat