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Kidney Stones: Symptoms, Cause, Treatment According to Ayurveda

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Kidney Stones has become a rising problem in many countries due to geographical, modern lifestyle and genetic variations. People living in drought zones, arid areas suffer more from intestinal hyper absorption of calcium oxalate which leads to the formation of kidney stones. Calcium containing stones are the most common ones comprising about 75% of all urinary calculi, which are observed in the form of pure calcium oxalate (50%) or calcium phosphate (5%) or a mixture of both.

Generally, calculi are formed in the age group of 20-45 years. In children, these are rarely found.

What are the symptoms of Kidney Stones?

  • Excruciating pain in the abdomen
  • Pain during micturition
  • Sudden stoppage of urine flow
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain gets worse during running, jolting etc.
  • Yellow or reddish coloured urine
  • Sudden pain in the right or left lower abdomen (flanks) that radiates from back to front.
  • Vomiting sensation
  • Headache
  • Body ache

What are the causes of Kidney Stones?

The causes of formation of renal stone formation are not yet fully understood but in majority of cases, it has been seen that multiple factors are involved. The important factors which influence the formation of kidney stones include:

  1. Climate: In hot climates, the urinary solutes will increase with decrease in colloids, which leads to chelation of solutes forming a suitable environment for the formation of stones.
  2. Renal Infection: Infection favours the formation of calculi as the urea splitting organisms commonly cause calculi.
  3. Prolonged Immobilization: The prolonged immobilization causes multiple bilateral stones.
  4. Citrate level: The presence of citrate maintains the calcium phosphate and carbonate in soluble state and any decrease in citrate level in urine causes stone formation.

Concept of Kidney Stones in Ayurveda:

In Ayurveda, kidney stones are known by the name ‘Ashmari’. Ashmari is a vyaadhi of Mutravaha Srotas.  There are four types of Ashmaris described in Ayurveda. These are:

  1. Vaataj Ashmari (Calcium Oxalate Stone): Vaataj Ashmari is blackish, hard and has irregular and rough structure. Symptoms include intense pain in abdomen and anal region and difficulty in excretion.
  • Pittaj Ashmari (Uric acid stone): In Ayurveda, pittaj ashmari has been described like bhallatak asthi. The symptoms include yellow urine and micturition.
  • Kaphaj Ashmari (Oxalate/Phosphate Stone): The stone formation due to kaphaj ashmari is white, slimy and big. The symptoms include pain in rectum, difficulty in passing urine, less urinary output etc.

What is the treatment of Kidney Stones?

Modern treatment for kidney stones includes surgery and drug therapy but has some limitations. Surgical procedures have increased risk of stone recurrence and are also not affordable to poor patients. The armamentarium of therapeutic agents also does not have any effective drug for the treatment except for some diuretics like thiazides and furosemide.

In Ayurvedic literature, all sorts of methodologies for the treatment including surgical techniques have been described. According to Aacharya Sushrut, before going for surgical procedures, one should take oral medications which possess the properties such as Chhedana (cutting/breaking), Bhedna (Splitting), Lekhana (Scrapping) and Mutrala (Diuretic) for facilitating the disintegration of urinary stones. The Ayurvedic treatment for kidney stones include:

  1. Nidaana Parivarjana (to avoid cause): The main treatment of any disease in Ayurveda is to avoid the causative factor. According to Ayurveda, Ashmari is mainly a kaphaj disorder, so all the measures that balance the vitiated Kapha dosha should be followed but urinary calculi are of different types, therefore some of its causes are common while some are very specific.

Some common causes that should be avoided are:

  • Ativyayaama (excessive physical work or exercise)
  • Suppression of micturition
  • Intake of heavy diet
  • Causes that lead to perspiration should also be avoided.
  • The ground water of some places contains excessive amounts of mineral contents which can form urinary calculi. So such water should be taken either by boiling or filtering it.
  • Avoid the intake of spinach, tomatoes, cashew nuts, cucumber, black tea, cocoa, plums, asparagus, strawberry and black grapes as these contain high amounts of oxalate.
  • Red meat, liver and fish are rich in purine so these non-vegetarian food items should also be avoided. A low purine diet is prescribed in kidney stones.
  • Along with avoiding the causative factors responsible for the formation of kidney stones, the principle treatment of Ayurveda is to make the environment antagonist to the disease.
  • As the stone is formed due to concentrated urine, the opposite to it is to make the urine dilute. When the urine is diluted, it will not only stop the further increase in the size of stone, but also increases hydraulic pressure in the kidney. It may also facilitate pushing of small stone which can pass through urine.
  • By prescribing diuretic herbs: In Ayurveda, various mutral (diuretic) medicines are prescribed which increases urine output. Certain diuretic herbs are:
  • Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa):  The mutral (diuretic) property of punarnava is due to Madhur rasa and Madhur vipaka.
  • Kaash (Saccharum spontaneum): Diuretic property of kaash is due to Sheet veerya, Madhur rasa and Madhur vipaka.
  • Kush (Desmostachya bipinnata): Diuretic property of kush is due to Madhur rasa and Madhur vipaka.
  • Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris): Diuretic property is due to Madhur rasa and Madhur vipaka.
  • Ayurvedic anti-stone drugs: In Ayurveda, various medicines are mentioned having stone breaking action. Along with above mentioned herbs when anti-stone drugs are used, the chances of breaking stones increase many times. Following are some of the plants with stone breaking properties. These are:
  • Pashanbheda (Bergenia ligulata): This plant has ashmari-bhedana property. This property is due to it being possessing Tridosha shaamak, mutral and lekhana karma (function).
  • Varuna (Crataeva nurvala): Varuna is considered as ashmari-bhedana plant. It has Kashaaya rasa, laghu and ruksha guna. Deepana property is due to ushna virya.
  • Kultha (Dolichos biflorus): The Ashmari-bhedana property of kulthi is due to laghu, ruksha, teekshana properties, Kashaya rasa and ushna virya.
  • Yavakshara (Alkali preparation of barley): Yavakshara has chhedana, bhedana and lekhana properties which make it alkaline in nature. Diuretic property of yavakshara is due to the presence of potassium salts.

Thus, it can be concluded that kidney stones can be successfully treated with Ayurvedic treatment along with changes in diet.

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