Nature Health: Kidney Stones

Q. I suffer from recurrent kidney stones, which are painful.

Will I have them for life? I am 54, and I eat a healthy, balanced diet and am not overweight. I would like to avoid surgery.

A. It is possible to get rid of kidney stones, but there is no guarantee that they will stay away. The most effective natural remedy is Quebra pedra (also known as Chanca piedra), which means ‘shatter stone’ or ‘stone breaker’.

This herbal remedy has long been used by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. Its alkaloids promote relaxation of the smooth muscle in the urinary and biliary tracts, expelling calculi or stones.

It is unlikely that you would require surgery, since the most common treatment for recurrent kidney stones is extra-corporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), which utilises a high-intensity acoustic pulse to break up the stones.

The issue with this non-invasive method are the residual fragments of calculi, which often means the treatment needs to be repeated after three months.

If you opt for this, taking Quebra pedra alongside the ESWL greatly improves the outcome.

A 2006 study, published in the Journal of Urology, found that more than 93% of participants in the trial were free of calculi after using Quebra pedra alongside ESWL.

The other good news about this herb is that there are no reported side-effects — Quebra pedra has been shown to protect the liver, due to the presence of phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin.

In Brazil, it is also used to remove uric acid from the urine, and to fight bladder infections and cystitis.

Reduce meat and animal products in your diet, since these foods will contribute to the production of kidney stones as a result of the inorganic phosphorus content.

Interestingly, it is the organic phosphorus found in beans, wholegrains, and legumes that has been shown to prevent the formation of kidney stones. You can take Quebra Pedra as a tea, or in capsule form, to get rid of stones, or to prevent them from forming, if you are prone to kidney or gallbladder stones. Both the tea and capsules are available from health stores or www.hereshealth.ie (021-4278101). Take as directed.

Q. My son frequently suffers from sties in the eye, causing his eye to swell terribly. He doesn’t seem to be bothered, but they look awful. We have used an ointment suggested by the chemist, which works well, but they keep coming back.

A. Sties are typically caused by the staphylococcus bacterium, with the infection occurring within the oil-secreting glands on the edge of the eyelid.

You don’t say how old your son is, but chances are that vigilance with hygiene will help.

He must wash his hands after play or sports, before touching or rubbing his eyes, which will introduce bacteria or aggravate an existing infection.

If he is young, then ensure he remembers to wash his hands well after going to the toilet — I have two young boys, and have to constantly remind them of this.

The swelling could be an issue, as excess swelling should be seen by a doctor, and drained if necessary.

As tempting as it is, don’t ever squeeze the sty. A gentle solution, such as cool, diluted chamomile, or raspberry-leaf tea, can be pressed on the area with a muslin cloth.

Recurring sties are often linked to a deficiency in vitamin A, found in foods such as liver, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, egg yolk, dried apricots, mango, paw paw, rockmelon, and pumpkin.

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