Kidney stones and the resulting surgeries are among the most painful health conditions a human being can ever experience, but as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
When it comes to these conditions, that rings especially true — after all, no one wants to end up in an emergency room looking up at the bright lights while experiencing the pain of having one of these all-too-common mineral deposits removed.
As far as preventive measures go, there are several different foundational ways to prevent kidney diseases, kidney stones, and the resulting kidney surgery and other procedures from taking place. But one particular herb from the Amazon Rainforest, rarely used in the United States except among the most seasoned and open-minded naturopathic doctors and healers, could hold the biggest key for prevention.
It may not be a cure-all, but it could prevent hundreds of thousands of hospital visits and kidney stone surgeries if used properly — including your own.
Kidney Stone Causes— The Calcification Problem
There are plenty of kidney stone causes, ranging from the use of prescription drugs like Topomax, Lasix and others to over-consumption of protein and too many acidic foods such as meat, cheese and bread, especially of the processed variety. Too much processed sugar also factors in according to naturopathic doctor Joseph Mercola.
Kidney stones are ultimately formed when an overabundance of crystal-forming substances such as calcium, oxalate and uric acid are found in the urine, more than the fluid in it is able to dilute.
The key symptoms of potential kidney stone formation include:
- Sudden need to urinate
- Pain that can be felt from your side to your back and lower abdomen
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Blood in the urine
- “Acidic” smell and cloudy appearance of urine
- Fever or infection
Kidney Stone Surgery and Emergency Room Stats to Be Concerned About
Emergency room visits for kidney stones are rising sharply, and treatments vary from a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) to a surgical removal procedure called a percutaneous nephrolithotomy.
Additional kidney stone and kidney stone surgery stats to be aware of include:
- Over 1 million people visit a health center for kidney stone ailments per year according to a 2013 study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit
- Over 300,000 people end up in the emergency room each year for kidney stones
- A shocking 47 percent increase in PCNL kidney stone surgery patients was recorded in the same year, mostly among women
- Kidney stones are painful and have a very high rate of recurrence
- About 10% of women and 20% of men will suffer from kidney stones at some point
Avoiding kidney stones may seem like a roll of the dice these days, but with the right foods and herbal support, prevention is quite manageable and attainable.
Avoid These Foods to Avoid Kidney Stones
There are many ways to protect yourself from kidney stones, and most of them are diet and lifestyle related.
Avoiding beer, soda and (especially non-organic) soy-based products is an excellent start.
Processed foods, fast foods, condiments and other foods high in processed table salt are also potential culprits in the formation of stones according to WebMd, as is eating too many foods high in oxalates such as spinach, almonds and cashews, french fries and more.
Pairing these foods with others high in calcium may help mitigate the effects of oxalates.
Exercising, avoiding stress, getting regular movement and deep breathing throughout the day, and drinking plenty of filtered water while making sure not to over-consume salt can help prevent kidney stones as well.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive home remedy for maintenance purposes, taking a shot of organic apple cider vinegar (diluted in water) or apple cider vinegar capsules before bed, upon waking, or after eating heavy meals can also have a positive effect on dissolving kidney stones.
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is said to help break down kidney stones in the body, but the South American herb Chanca Piedra (stone breaker in Spanish) is even more effective for this particular purpose.
Chanca Piedra Breaks Down Kidney Stones in One Week, Study Says
In 1990, Dr. Wolfram Wiemann of Germany treated 100 patients for kidney stones, seeking an alternative herbal answer to this health conundrum that can usually only be solved through painful, invasive surgery.
His assistant Nicole Maxwell reported that Dr. Wolfram treated over 100 kidney stone patients with Chanca Pieda from Peru, finding it to be a shocking 94% effective in eliminating kidney stones within a week or two.
Other researchers had earlier uncovered the antispasmodic activity of the herb, which they surmised allowed for the “smooth muscle relaxation within the urinary or biliary tract probably facilitates the expulsion of kidney or bladder calculi” according to the website Rain-Tree.com.
Multiple studies since then also have concluded that chanca piedra prevents the formation of oxalate crystals that eventually become kidney stones, including a 1999 in vitro clinical study and a 2003 in vitro study which found that chanca piedra could prevent the formation of kidney stones.
The herb “may interfere with the early stages of stone formation and may represent an alternative form of treatment and/or prevention of urolithiasis,” according to the researchers.
The name Chanca Piedra means “Stone Breaker” or “Shatter Stone” in Spanish, gained through decades of results from its native users and even in Brazilian pharmacies, among Ayurvedic healers, and in Chinese medicine for liver problems.
Other benefits of the “stone breaker” herb include:
- Support for regulating blood sugar
- Helping to regulate blood pressure
- Strong anti-bacterial effects (without harming good bacteria unlike other herbs/plants)
- Strong anti-viral effects
- Sky-high overall anti-oxidant levels.
- Unparalleled Anti-microbial effects for overall health: Researchers at Universidad de la República in Uruguay found the strongest activity in Chanca Piedra compared with 28 other plant and algae species
Where to Buy Chanca Piedra
I personally have taken chanca piedra in herbal blends from the Standard Enzyme company, which distributes clinical strength herbal formulas, generally through naturopathic healers and doctors.
If you’re looking for an organic alternative, Blue OrganiX sells an organic chanca piedra supplement for less than $20 on Amazon as well, including reviews from people who say it helped them pass or prevent stones naturally without medical intervention.
“Kidney Stone Support Chanca Piedra does exactly what it promises to do—help you naturally pass a kidney stone without medical (intervention),” said one reviewer by the name of James G on Amazon. “It requires patience and drinking lots of water and lemon juice, but this product is a critical aid to eliminating stones. I strongly recommend it to you!”
This article was first written in June 2013 and updated in October 2018. It is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult a doctor before making any decisions on surgery or health.