Research Roundup 8 - dissolving oxalate stones

Getting rid of calcium oxalate stones in the bladder and kidneys without surgery

Nancy Scanlan, DVM, CVA

Struvite stones occur most commonly with alkaline urine, and oxalate stones occure most commonly with acid urine. Both are most likely to form when the urine is concentrated. Part of the way to prevent them is to dilute the urine and to give something in the diet that will make the urine more alkaline or acid (depending on which stone type you are dealing with). One problem with this approach is that if the acidity of the urine is changed TOO much in the opposite direction, you can wind up with the other type of stone, instead.

Struvite stones can be dissolved by diluting the urine and making it more acid. But conventional medicine tells us that oxalate crystals can’t be dissolved. In fact, antifreeze poisoning, which causes oxalate crystals in the kidneys, is usually considered to be a death sentence, or at the very least a severe kidney damage sentence, since the kidneys will be blocked with the crystals.

Traditional herbal medicine from many sources (China, Japan, Brazil, Russia, and India) has herbal formulas that claim to be able to dissolve oxalate crystals and stones. They have shown to be helpful in the prevention of oxalate stones, but conventionally trained doctors and veterinarians have doubted their ability to dissolve stones.

A number of herbs have been investigated in humans (and one in rats) for their ability to dissolve oxalate stones. For human studies, patients with kidney (not bladder) stones determined to be oxalate stones were first treated by lithotripsy (where stones are broken up by shock waves). Smaller stones are passed after this treatment, but larger stones remain behind and are visible by x-ray and ultrasound studies. When treated by the herbs in the studies, they gradually decreased in size and were passed. In the rat study, a microscopic exam of the kidneys showed stones and crystals in the kidneys of treated rats were decreased in size and number compared to those that were not treated.

The effective herbs included black cumin (Nigella sativa), couch grass (Agropyrum repens), an herbal formula sold in Russia , Phyllanthus niruri (Braizlian herb), Kulattha (Dolichous biflorus) (Ayurvedic  herb), and Urtica dentata (a Chinese herb). Black cumin is also known as blackseed, black caraway, or black cumin.

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