Agatha M. Thrash, M.D.
T he kidney is a masterpiece of beauty and utility. Often I have held a human
kidney in my hands, admiring its rich color, the intricacies of its design, the
symmetry of is graceful curves. To view this small creation and realize the
massive job it performs throughout a lifetime, I am awestruck at the mind of the
One who designed it. The form of the kidneys is truly artistic, yet it is one of our
most hard working organs.
It is also a marvel of engineering perfection. Each day our kidneys filter 50
gallons of water, most effectively so that it can safely be returned to the system.
Without this extremely effective filtering and recycling system, we would have to
drink 40,000 glasses of water a day and practically live in the bathroom. The
function of the kidneys is truly admirable.
Our kidneys are victims of the modern way of life. Most people are
chronically dehydrated which puts a great stress on the kidneys, calling upon them
to process ever more polluted blood, filtering out large amounts of impurities and
excess nutrients. In this water-starved environment we hope and expect our
kidneys to pass these impurities and other excess baggage on down to the bladder.
It is sort of like asking someone to paddle a canoe down a wet street. Pretty tough
going! The fortitude of the kidney is truly amazing.
But there comes a time in the experience of many a kidney that the constant
assaults of a lifetime of poor eating and drinking habits catches up. Then, as men
who have been there can attest, they have a bit more of appreciation for what
women go through in childbirth. The pain of a kidney stone is exquisite, but even
worse, as these “labor pains” can last for months. In this paper, we have attempted
to explain a little bit about the kidney, how to care for it, and how to treat its most
common ailments. Read and heed, for the failure of the kidneys is truly agonizing.
A man in his 30’s, a close relative of the authors, had a kidney stone so large
that the urologist said it could not pass. When first observed by x-ray, it was close
to the kidney. The urologist said it would gradually pass along the ureter until it
got down to the small part of the ureter just at the brim of the pelvis. He was
correct. The stone lodged right there for ten months and did not move. Several
painful attacks let the man know the stone was still there. Sitting in a bathtub of
hot water for 20 to 30 minutes would give him relief enough to allow him to sleep.
Sometimes he slept in the bathtub, since it was the only place he could get easy
enough to rest.
He occasionally had serious attacks of kidney colic during which he paced the
floor, sat in hot water for hours, and eventually would drift off into a short sleep,
only to awaken with the same intolerable pain. It had been perhaps five months
since he had had one of those severe attacks, indicating that he was constantly
getting urine past the place where the stone had lodged near the bladder.
The cost of standard treatment began at $8,000.00 and went upward to
$21,000.00 or more, depending on how much treatment was necessary before the
stone could be broken up into small enough portions to pass. After earnest prayer,
the following routine was decided upon:
For fluids he had from one-half to one and one-half gallons of pure water
daily. He also took copious amounts of herbs - cramp bark (urinary
antispasmodic), mistletoe (diuretic and antispasmodic), black haw
(antispasmodic), fringe tree (antispasmodic), burdock (powerful herbal diuretic),
dandelion leaf (the most powerful herbal diuretic), cold pressed castor oil (a
peristalsis stimulator) for the ureter, and a liniment made of DMSO, comfrey, and
white willow bark, rubbed on the skin over the location of the stone and up and
down the entire ureter. For three months he took Cystone from the Metagenics
He employed other measures also. He jumped on a trampoline and off steps
in an attempt to jar the stone loose. He used a powerful hand held electrical
vibrator over the lower back and abdominal area in an attempt to shake it loose.
He even wore magnets at 3600 gauss taped over the location of the stone for four
months hoping they would reduce the size of the stone or relax the ureter enough
to allow the stone to tumble on through.///
At one point an attempt was made to induce the stone to pass by giving two
liters of fluid IV within two hours with as much herb tea as he could drink by
mouth, nearly a gallon in two hours. He took a tablespoon of Epsom salts at the
beginning. Herbal DMSO liniment was rubbed over the kidney and ureter area
every 30 minutes. This routine was ineffectual in moving the stone.
The condition was treated for eleven months. For ten months it had not
moved from the position at the brim of the pelvis. The urologist continued to tell
him it would never pass, that it was too large and too angular, being one
centimeter in its greatest diameter. On New Year’s Day he assumed an upside
down position with his feet almost straight up for a few seconds. Within five
minutes he felt a strange feeling in his flank and lower pelvic region, and upon
passing urine, passed the kidney stone with a clink against the ceramic stool. He
quickly retrieved it as a trophy.
You can imagine the rejoicing his family has had and the seasons of praise and
thanksgiving to the Lord for His goodness in hearing our prayers that he would
pass the stone. Our Father is a merciful God and hears the prayers of His penitent
The stone was 11 millimeters in its greatest diameter. It was taken to the
urologist (a friend of the family) and they told him of the blessing of the Lord in
answered prayer. He is a Christian man, and I believe he recognized this as divine
Too Much Protein
Americans tend to eat much more protein than they need in the erroneous
belief that if a little protein is good for you, much more must be better. But a large
amount of protein not only is not good for the human system in general, it is
potentially harmful to the kidneys. The high protein weight loss programs that are
so popular among dieters are frankly far more harmful than understood by most. .
Not only are the kidneys overworked, but several other health concerns are raised
such as the effect on the bones and blood vessels, not to mention the increased risk
A person should drink enough water every day so that almost clear urine is
passed four to five times during that day. And although most people do not need
this counsel, drinking more than two gallons of water daily can also be injurious to
the kidneys. Those who are in chronic dehydration vastly out number those who
are approaching water toxicity.
Diabetes and high blood pressure are the two major diseases harming the
kidneys. Certain medications can also injure the kidneys, particularly the
pharmaceutical diuretics, pain killers, and some antibiotics excreted by the
Stones may be formed anywhere in the kidneys, ureters, bladder, or urethra, or
they may travel from one place to another throughout the urinary tract. The rapid
onset, or even sudden onset, of severe sharp pain in the flank may be the first sign.
Associated with this can be nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, paleness and
sweating. The pain is often of an exquisite nature, and those who have had both
say that kidney pain is worse than the pain of heart attacks. Pain and blood in the
urine are signs of kidney stones. There are other things that make red urine such
as beets. If you notice what appears to be a reddish tint to your urine, first recall
what deep red things you may have eaten over the past few meals. If you don’t
recall eating anything deep red then make an appointment to see your doctor.
The pain of a kidney stone is due to either stretching the ureter or the kidney
pelvis by backed up urine during blockage by the stone, or by actual movement of
the stone down the ureter.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Following are some simple steps you can take to miss an expensive and painful
appointment with a kidney stone. Some people are known to be stone formers,
constantly passing small, sand-like stones. These people should find a laboratory
that will give them an analysis of their stones. They should then pay attention to
foods having high analyses of that particular substance of which their stones are
made, such as phosphates, oxalates, calcium, etc. Once this discovery has been
made, it remains only to avoid those foods, thereby hopefully avoiding the
formation of a larger stone.
There are various lifestyle factors known to increase a risk of certain types of
LIFESTYLE STONE TYPE PREVENTIVE
High protein diet Uric acid Low protein diet
Milk drinking Calcium Avoid dairy milk (may use soy, rice, nut milks)
Refined carbohydrates Calcium Complex carbohydrates
Animal products Oxalate Vegan diet
Alcohol Various Use no beverage alcoholic
Vitamins A & C supplements Calcium Beware of fortified foods and pills
Worcestershire sauce Various No sauce of this nature
Sedentary lifestyle Calcium Get up and get out
With the advances in medical technology you would think that kidney stones
would be on their way off the most dreaded list of afflictions in America, but that
is not the case. The fact of the matter is, stones are on the rise. After World War
II dietary fats and oils, animal protein, and milk products greatly increased, and by
1970 kidney stone formation was about three times higher than it had been prior to
It has been suggested that milk, animal protein, foods high in oxalates, high
sodium, and a high sugar diet increase the likelihood of stone formation. Does
that menu sound a lot like the typical American diet? It has also been suggested
that fiber, magnesium, and potassium reduce the risk. A high potassium diet as in
fruits and vegetables, decreases urinary calcium excretion and tends to be high in
alkali, thus increasing urinary citrate. This combination has been found to reduce
stone formation by 51 percent. Foods that are high in oxalate have been suggested
to increase stone formation.
Rich sources of oxalates, which comprise the commonest type of kidney
stones (70 percent), include chocolate, black tea, beets, figs, ground pepper,
peanuts, oysters, parsley, rhubarb, spinach, and poppy seeds. Avoid dairy
products, red meat, excessive salt intake, and whole sesame seeds. Always drink
at least ten eight-ounce glasses of water per day if you have a high risk of kidney
For individuals who have a genetic or a dietary problem with the use of
refined carbohydrates, eating foods high in oxalates will increase their risk
significantly for getting kidney stones.
The refined carbohydrates which increase stone formation include items such
as sugar, white rice, and white flour products. Three heaping tablespoonfuls of
unprocessed wheat, or rice bran, on the other hand, were found to reduce the risk
of formation of renal calculi by half. A high fiber diet using grains, beans, and
reducing the calcium intake, will go a long way in preventing kidney stones.
Protein should also be low as it encourages excretion of excess calcium in the
urine. Animal products include meat, fish, chicken, cheese, milk, and eggs. The
consumption of animal protein in a population, to a large degree, determines the
risk of kidney stones in that population group. Since animal products are also high
in fats, it may be in part due to the reduction in fats that vegetarians have fewer
stones than non-vegetarians. It is certain that a low fat diet will help prevent the
formation of kidney stones.
A high intake of salt increases calcium loss through the kidneys, which may
be converted from the urine into kidney stones. Salt is high in almost all refined
food products and canned goods.
Another study found that kidney stones are caused, at least in part, by not
getting enough exercise, and by drinking coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, or alcoholic
drinks, and by failing to drink sufficient water during periods of hot weather to
compensate for fluid loss. During dehydration there is a concentration of waste
products, which encourages such minerals as calcium and oxalate to form crystals;
then kidney stones can develop, one crystal at a time.
Chocolate is rich in sucrose (table sugar), fat, and oxalate. This combination
greatly increases one’s likelihood of getting kidney stones. The urine after a single
chocolate bar contains high levels of both calcium and oxalates. Sugar increases
excretion of calcium in the urine.
The risk of forming kidney stones can be greatly reduced by cutting out soft
drinks. The phosphoric acid in the drinks is sufficient to put a person at greater
risk of forming stones. As phosphorous levels rise in the blood, calcium levels
fall, meaning the kidneys are processing large amounts of stone-forming calcium.
And once phosphorous levels themselves drop, the blood is replenished with
calcium taken from the bones, thus causing osteoporosis.
Men prone to developing kidney stones may help to prevent them by drinking
orange juice, or eating ample quantities of oranges. About one pint per day is as
effective as standard drugs for keeping kidney stones from forming. Citrate in the
juice inhibits calcification of the stones.
Eating oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit with meals seems to prevent
kidney stones, as certain people prone to stones have low levels of citrate in their
urine. Men are three times more likely than women to get stones, and ages 40 to
65 are the most favored ages. Citrus fruits, although they are acid in the stomach,
leave an alkaline residue in the urine. Acid urine tends to precipitate uric acid
Celery in the diet keeps stones from forming. Three stalks of celery pureed
and taken daily should be adequate. A cucumber every day is also helpful in
The vegan vegetarian diet is the most favorable, with no between meals
eating, no soft drinks, no fruit juices in greater quantities than four to five ounces
at a meal, and a diet low in free fats. We suggest generous quantities of pumpkin
seeds in the diet as they have been found to inhibit crystal formation in the urine.
Evidence has accumulated that a vegetarian diet with its type of protein is handled
more efficiently by the kidneys than animal protein. Soybeans have a protein
which is quite favorable for the prevention of kidney stones.
Because people lose fluid through sweating in hot weather, kidney stones are
more common during summer. In winter, sitting in hot tubs or saunas causes
excessive sweating. A long car ride or plane trip with inadequate water and the
use of soft drinks (which can have an overall dehydrating effect) can start stone
development or urinary tract infections. The overuse of magnesium-containing
laxatives and antacids cause similar problems.
Physical inactivity can lead to stone formation. Lying down, or even sitting
down, alters calcium metabolism, and encourages excretion of calcium by the
urine. Patients who remain constantly in bed are far more likely to form stones.
The use of aspirin and other painkillers has been shown to increase the risk of
renal stones. Most drugs are potentially injurious to the kidneys, not to mention
the liver which has the dangerous task of trying to detoxify these drugs.
Lithium can effectively dissolve uric acid stones, although lithium is used in
very small doses, such as can be absorbed from mineral-rich water.
Magnesium is effective in preventing calcium oxalate stones, especially
effective when taken with meals, rather than on an empty stomach.
Stresses in the life can increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
Other causes of kidney stones include tumor of the parathyroid glands, too
much vitamin D, gout, and leukemia.
Stone formation is known to be associated with certain lifestyle factors, age,
and heredity. As a person gets older the probability of kidney stones gets greater.
The risk of stone formation goes up from taking apple juice, or grapefruit juice
between meals by 35 and 37 percent respectively. Take juices with meals.
Male marathon runners have a higher incidence of kidney stones than those
who do not run marathons.
Antacids can increase one’s risk of getting kidney stones. Antacids are such
drugs as Maalox, Tums, Mylanta, Di-Gel, Amphojel, etc.
The early stage of kidney stone formation usually passes completely
unnoticed. Once the stone starts to gain layers and attention, it can be mistaken
for “something I ate,” “just a cramp,” a muscle spasm, or any of a host of other
aches and pains of unknown origin. Discomfort usually begins on one side of the
back and radiates to the abdomen or groin. Nausea and vomiting may occur and
blood may appear in the urine. It is at this stage that the sufferer begins to realize
that it is finally “happening to me.” Usually an x-ray or ultrasound is all that is
needed to confirm the diagnosis.
With the onset of symptoms, the use of one glassful of water every ten
minutes for an hour will often be curative. This water may be made into tea if one
has on hand buchu tea, corn silk tea, burdock tea, dandelion, cleavers, or
watermelon seed. A teaspoon per cup of boiling water is the recipe for the first
five teas, but the last one is one tablespoon of ground watermelon seed stirred into
a cup of boiling water. Each of the teas should be allowed to sit for 20 minutes
before straining and drinking.
Strain all the urine produced through a funnel lined by gauze so that the stone
can be retrieved and analyzed by a laboratory if the crystal forming the stone is to
Maintain as much as possible a sitting or especially standing position, as lying
down (and too much sitting) slows the production and drainage of urine.
Very large, very hot fomentations over the kidney area are needed and should
be applied quickly, while the heat is still almost unbearable. (Do not blister the
skin.) Maintain the hot application, keeping it hot for 45 minutes or more with hot
water bottles or heating pad. Keep the head cool by cold compresses. See section
on kidney stone pack in Nutrition for Vegetarians.
Many patients feel more comfortable in a hot bath. The bath should be
maintained between 105 and 110 degrees, trying to keep the mouth temperature no
hotter than 102 degrees. Keep the face cool with ice-cold compresses and a small
electric fan aimed on the face. If the patient wants to remain in the bath for hours,
keep the bath water at 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit.
One patient told us of having kidney colic and taking three tablespoons of
lemon juice and two tablespoons of olive oil which caused the stone to pass into
the bladder, and in four or five hours the stone had passed from the bladder. The
lemon/oil treatment had been preceded by hot and cold baths, and drinking plenty
One tablespoon of lemon juice daily helps to prevent or dissolve kidney
stones. Lemons are rich in citrate, an acidic compound known to hamper the
formation of calcium based kidney stones, the second most common type.
After two months of treatments with herbal remedies for a kidney stone, in
one day give one gallon of water in the morning, and the second gallon in the
afternoon. Give a large dose of magnesium sulfate at around 2:00 in the
afternoon, about a tablespoon of Epsom salts in water. Follow it by a second glass
of water. The magnesium sulfate is for the purpose of relaxing and dilating the
ureter so that it can more easily carry the stone. Bear in mind it may cause
For a kidney stone attack, into two quarts of water, measure two tablespoons
of gravel root, two tablespoons of stone root, and three tablespoons of
marshmallow root. Boil vigorously for 25 minutes; then set off the burner and add
a handful of corn silk or burdock. Allow to set for 25 minutes. Strain and drink.
If the patient is having an acute attack, the two quarts of tea should be drunk in
about two hours for best results. For treatment of a stone lodged in the ureter and
not giving much trouble, drink two quarts of this same tea a day until the stone
For stones that are difficult to pass, prepare one glass of grapefruit juice with
four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Take one glassful per day at the beginning
of the meal for four days. This will usually soften the stone. Rinse the mouth
after taking the vinegar to protect the teeth from softening. And please note that
here we are suggesting vinegar as a therapeutic agent; it should not be used for
TYPES OF HERBS
There are three types of herbs, which should be used for kidney stones with
Demulcent herbs: These sooth and comfort the patient with urinary tract
pain: marshmallow root and parsley root fall in this category. Twenty drops of
kava kava tincture in a glass of water can be helpful for pain. Castor oil packs
over the area of pain, with or without fomentations, can help with pain.
Lithotriptic herbs: These soften and help dissolve stones, as well as smooth
off rough edges. This would include stone root and gravel root.
Obstruent herbs: These tend to clear the ureters of mucus, and to increase
peristaltic activity. As mucus travels down the urinary tract it tends to carry stones
with it. Increased peristaltic activity helps with the extrusion of the stone. Use
lobelia tea for this purpose. Virgin olive oil is also obstruent. Take two
tablespoonfuls every night at bedtime just before lying down.
A good stone tea is one part stone root, one part marshmallow root, one part
parsley root, one part gravel root, one-quarter part lobelia, one-quarter part ginger
root. Of this mixture take two ounces and simmer for 20 minutes in one quart of
distilled water. Take one cup four times a day. Lobelia may make the heart beat
stronger and faster. This tea causes the ureter to contract. It encourages mucus
formation by mucus membranes of the urinary tract.
A special routine with the tea is as follows: At the same time the tea is being
taken, the person should fast except for taking orange juice for three to four days.
At the end of the fast, four ounces of lemon juice and four ounces of olive oil are
taken first thing in the morning. As bowel action increases in the intestinal tract, it
reflexively increases action in the ureters, as well as the gall bladder. This action
encourages the passing of a stone.