Anyone who has ever experienced kidney stones before can attest to how painful they are. Most who have had them will say it is more painful than childbirth. Though I can’t speak to the pains of either, I can say that during childbirth, your body goes through a natural rhythm of releasing hormones to help deal with the pain, as well as there is the child for the mother to bond with after, making the previous hours of pain no more than a memory. I don’t recall anyone ever cuddling their kidney stone after.
Kidney stones (or urinary stones) are basically buildup of minerals in the urinary system. It may just present as gravel or sand in the urinary system and pass easily. But if left unchecked, they can build and become too large to comfortably pass through the urethra, and well, that’s where the fun happens. Here is a picture of types of stones just to give you an idea:
Pain, misery, and agony indeed! Yeesh!
From an ayurvedic perspective, urinary stones can be traced to Vata/Pitta primarily, and Kapha as their origin.
Vata: Caused by systemic dryness.
Pitta: Caused by dryness and heat.
Kapha: Caused by stagnation. Typically the dryness from Vata/Pitta causes kapha to form the stones.
I don’t think anyone is going to argue with me that stones are painful and we should avoid them. So how are they formed? How can we prevent this from happening, or from recurring?
The stones are formed by dehydration primarily. This leads to highly concentrated minerals in the urine which can cause crystallization. This obstructs flow.
Stones are found in 1 in 100 people on autopsy, though only 1 in 1000 adults become hopitalized for it. But for that 1 in 1000, it is excruciatingly painful. Men are 2x more likely to experience stones than women, especially if they are in a dry climate or between the ages of 20-40 (pitta time of life).
I could talk about treatment, but to be honest, you will be seeing a doctor to treat these. Ayurveda will supplement you, but the best treatment for urinary stones is to not get them in the first place. Stop it before it happens:
– stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water or demulcent teas to help absorb water better. For those of us who have never had stones, this should be enough.
– avoid sodas and diet sodas, which increase your risk and are bad for you anyway.
– reduce foods high in animal proteins. These foods cause the body to leech calcium from the bones to neutralize acidity in the blood.
– avoid diuretic (promote urination) beverages and acidifying foods (greasy, fried, spicy, alcohol, coffee, etc)
– avoid mineral rich foods that are heavily processed (ramen noodles, canned soups, etc.)
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to have to pass spikey stones through my urinary system. I can only imagine how agonizing the pain would be. But like everything in Ayurveda, it all comes back to our diet and lifestyle. Urinary stones are just one (very painful) example, of the multitude of diseases we become at risk for if we don’t respect our bodies. So eat right, and live right, and especially this summer, drink plenty of water! And if you have kidney stones or have recurring issues with them – see a doctor, and see a CAS to help you out.