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THE URINARY (RENAL) SYSTEM

The renal system is a group of organs that work together to produce, store and release urine. Urine is the liquid waste material excreted from the body. The organs that work together in this system include the kidneys, bladder, ureters and urethra. It is also known as the urinary or the excretory system.

 

Kidneys are a vital part of the renal system. They are located in the back portion of the abdominal cavity, with one on either side. One function of the kidneys is to transport urine into the tubes known as ureters before it exits the body.

 

These organs also have several other important functions, however, such as helping to regulate blood pressure. They also work to regulate the pH balance in the human body as well as the balance of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.

 

When the body digests protein, the process creates waste products. In the kidneys, and millions of tiny blood vessels (capillaries) with even tinier holes in them act as filters. As blood flows through the blood vessels, small molecules such as waste products squeeze through the holes. These waste products become part of the urine. Useful substances, such as protein and red blood cells, are too big to pass through the holes in the filter and stay in the blood.

Diabetes can damage this system. High levels of blood sugar make the kidneys filter too much blood. All this extra work is hard on the filters. After many years, they start to leak and useful protein is lost in the urine. Having small amounts of protein in the urine is called microalbuminuria.

When kidney disease is diagnosed early, during microalbuminuria, several treatments may keep kidney disease from getting worse. Having larger amounts of protein in the urine is called macroalbuminuria. When kidney disease is caught later during macroalbuminuria, end-stage renal disease, or ESRD, usually follows.

 

Bladder: is the next part of the system, sometimes referred to as the urinary bladder. The bladder is shaped much like a muscular, hollow balloon and sits in the pelvic area of the body. Its primary function is to collect and store the urine that has left the kidneys. Once the bladder starts to become full, the urine begins to leave the bladder and pass into the ureters.

 

Ureters: are small tubes made of muscle. These structures are attached at one end to the kidneys, and to the bladder at the other. They use a small amount of pressure to gently force or push urine from the kidneys to the bladder and then from the bladder to the urethra on its way out of the body. The ureters also prevent urine from backing up and going back into the kidneys once it has passed into the bladder, a disorder which would be known as reflux.

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Urethra: is the final portion of the renal system. This structure is a hollow tube connected to the bladder and passes through the genitals, exiting the body. The urethra passes through the penis in males and is responsible for transporting both urine and semen. This tube is significantly shorter in females and stops just above the opening to the vagina. An external muscle known as the urethral sphincter helps to control the action of voluntary urination.

 

Prostate: is an organ forming part of the male reproductive system. It is located immediately below the bladder and just in front of the bowel. It sits in front of the rectum and the back portion of the organ can be felt during rectal examination by the doctor. Its main function is to produce fluid which protects and enriches sperm. In younger men the prostate is about the size of a walnut. It is doughnut shaped as it surrounds the beginning of the urethra, the tube that conveys urine from the bladder to the penis. The nerves that control erections surround the prostate.

 

See the Prostate section below for more information and natural remedies for prostate problems.

 

The human urinary (renal) system

Click to enlarge

 

Disorders of the urinary system

Urine colour

 

Typically, the clearer and paler the urine is, the healthier the person is. People who regularly drink water have a pale yellow to clear coloured urine which, generally, shows that the body is properly hydrated. However, clear urine can also appear in those who are taking in too much water and may be dangerously close to water intoxication or over-hydration. If the urination is increased, especially clear coloured urine and without greater water intake, it can be a sign of diabetes.

 

Alcohol and urination

 

Sometimes the urine becomes clear and excessive after drinking plenty of alcohol. Because alcohol is a diuretic it forces an increase in urination and the body extracts water from organs, including the brain, along with important electrolytes, especially potassium and zinc which leads to headaches and ‘hangovers’ the following day. This is why it is important to drink a large glass of water after drinking alcohol and before sleeping. At night the brain uses water to flush out toxins and if this is not available it will be unable to do this which can be harmful to the health of the brain. Drinking pineapple juice, coconut water and green vegetables juices with algae powder from spirulina or chlorella are good ways to rehydrate and replace the electrolytes lost after drinking alcohol.

 

See

Abnormal urine colour

 

Red or pink urine: Certain foods that are naturally red or purple can cause this colour change in urine such as beetroot or excessive amounts of red wine. (These foods and beverages can also cause the stools to become dark and red in colour). Some laxatives and prescription drugs can also be the cause of red urine. In some cases, blood in the urine stream can be a sign of a medical condition like bladder stones, an enlarged prostate or, in rare cases, kidney cancer. If the urine becomes red for more than a couple of days, and no medications or red or purple coloured foods have been consumed, it should be investigated further.

 

Green or blue urine: This is usually caused by certain foods, beverages and medications, especially if they contain a blue dye. Asparagus can affect the urine’s odour because of the sulphur content and turn it green. Vitamin supplements can cause the urine to become a fluorescent green/yellow.

 

Orange urine: Some medications with blackberry or beetroot dyes or rhubarb, can cause the urine to be orange. Medical issues that can cause orange urine are dehydration and jaundice.

 

Cloudy urine: This can be a sign of urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder or kidney stones. For men, semen left in the urinary tract can also cause the urine to be cloudy or murky.

 

Foamy urine: When ingesting too much protein, excessive foam can be produced in the urine. Excessive protein can lead to disorders of the kidneys and liver.

 

See: Ideal protein intake levels.

Bladder stones (Vesical calculus or cystolith)

Bladder stones are small mineral masses that develop in the bladder, usually when the urine becomes concentrated. Urolithiasis refers to stones in any part of the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder or urethra. The stones can also be called calculi. Spinal cord injuries that result in urinary incontinence, an enlarged prostate or recurring urinary tract infections are common causes of concentrated and stagnant urine. If urine remains too long in the bladder, urine chemicals start clumping together, forming crystals which grow and eventually develop into bladder stones.

Bladder outlet obstruction refers to any condition that undermines the flow of urine from the bladder to the urethra, such as an enlarged prostate, cystocele, bladder diverticula, certain medications and narrowing of the urethra.

Any condition that damages the nerves that control bladder function make the likelihood of bladder stones greater, such as a spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, herniated disk and stroke. Patients who have a neurological problem as well as some kind of bladder outlet obstruction, such as an enlarged prostate have an even greater chance of developing bladder stones.

Recurrent urinary tract infections - chronic (recurrent, long-term) bladder infections cause inflammation, which may also result in the development of bladder stones.

Very small kidney stones can travel down the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder (ureters) and enter the bladder, where they may eventually grow into bladder stones.

Urine, which is produced in the kidneys, consists of water and waste products which have been removed from blood. Urea, one of the waste products, is made of carbon and nitrogen - (NH2)2CO. Stagnant urine - urine that remains in the bladder because it could not empty itself fully - leads to the clumping together of the chemicals inside urea, eventually resulting in the formation of crystals.

Uric acid urolithiasis or uric acid kidney stones refer to development of a stone or calculus composed of significant amounts of urate in the renal pelvis, ureter or bladder. These stones are made from uric acid crystals that harden into stone in the bladder or the kidney. The stones may pass from the kidneys and not pass out of the bladder. People that have gout, diabetes, chronic diarrhoea, cancer of the blood or have high levels of uric acid in the blood are susceptible to uric acid bladder stones.  Uric acid is released into the urinary system after breakup of cells during food digestion and, under normal conditions, uric acid is flushed out of our system by way of urination providing it less chance to form stones. However, individuals who suffer from this type of kidney or bladder stone mostly occur due to their body’s inability to completely metabolise purines, which is the actual crystalline base of uric acid. A slow and gradual build-up of uric acid leads to this stone production.

See also

High levels of uric acid in the blood, also called hyperuricemia, can result from either increased production of uric acid in the body or decreased excretion of it through the kidneys and can lead to problems other problems such as like arthritis, gout, kidney stones and renal failure. Recent studies have also associated high blood uric acid levels with hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Normal levels of uric acid are:

  • Men: 3.4–7.0mg/dL

  • Women: 2.4–6.0 mg/dL

Factors that can contribute to a high uric acid level include:

  • A diet high in purines (purines are broken down into uric acid)

  • Endocrine or metabolic conditions like diabetes or acidosis

  • Excess alcohol consumption

  • Genetics

  • Obesity

  • Renal insufficiency

  • Underactive thyroid

Certain cancers, chemotherapy agents and other medications, such as diuretics, may also contribute to it. Exercising, fasting and crash dieting may elevate uric acid levels temporarily.

Symptoms of bladder stones

  • Blood in the urine

  • Lower abdominal pain

  • Penile discomfort

  • Frequent urination

  • Trouble urinating

  • Cloudy or dark colour urine

Types of stones that form in the bladder or kidneys can be triple phosphate (struvite), cystein, ammonium urate, calcium oxalate and silica crystals.

NOTE: Avoid bladder irritant foods like tomatoes, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, chocolate and spicy food.

For natural remedies see Kidney stones below


Cystitis

Creates the constant urge to pass urine and a painful burning sensation on trying to do so. There may also be an offensive odour to the urine which may be cloudy and blood stained. Women are more likely to contract this condition but it can affect men and children. One in five suffer repeated attacks. Women have a shorter urethra, allowing bacteria into the bladder more easily. Also, the urethral opening is close to the vagina and the back passage, which makes it easier for bacteria from this area to reach the bladder.

In some women, cystitis is associated with recent intercourse or can be associated with stress. Cystitis is not normally a serious condition, however, occasionally infection can travel up into the kidneys leading to a serious infection known as pyelonephritis.

Personal hygiene by way of aloe vera, tea tree oil and sea salt baths (especially after intercourse) is useful in preventing cystitis. Drinking plenty of bottled mineral water and pure cranberry juice with no additives (especially sugar) can help to flush the bacteria from the kidneys. Sugar must be eliminated from the diet completely as it feeds the bacteria causing the cystitis.

Apple cider vinegar: one teaspoon in a glass of warm water can help to eliminate the bacteria that causes cystitis.

Bicarbonate of soda: one teaspoon in a glass of water or milk can instantly treat cystitis.

Phyllanthus amarus herb is very effective in naturally treating cystitis.

Raw juice therapy can successfully treat cystitis. The best natural organic foods to juice are: apple, apricot, lemon, carrot, celery, cranberry, cucumber, parsley and watercress.

Diabetes

 

During an illness or infection the body will release extra glucose into the blood stream in a bid to help combat the illness. In people without diabetes, this is an effective strategy as their pancreas will release extra insulin to cope with the extra blood glucose. High blood glucose levels can lead to bacterial infections of the urinary tract and dehydration so fluids must be drunk regularly. Pineapple juice can help the body to stay hydrated. Visit the Diabetes page to learn more and find out more natural food remedies for this condition.

Hyperaemia

 

Hyperaemia is a condition where there is too much potassium in the blood and is a potentially life-threatening situation because it causes abnormal electrical conduction in the heart and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems. High potassium levels are most often associated with kidney failure, in which potassium levels build up and cannot be excreted in the urine. Medications can be used to lower potassium levels until the kidneys are able to excrete the excess in the urine. However, emergency dialysis may be required to remove the potassium if kidney function is poor.
 

Hypokalaemia

 

Too little potassium in the blood usually from causes like vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating, and medications like diuretics or laxatives. It is often seen in diabetic ketoacidosis, where potassium is excessively lost in the urine. Since chemicals in the body are related in their metabolism, low magnesium levels can be associated with hypokalaemia.
 

Kidney Failure (nephropathy)

 

Healthy kidneys should only filter tiny (trace) amounts of protein into the urine as most protein molecules are too large for the filters (glomeruli). It is not usual to lose protein in the urine. When this does happen it is known as ‘Proteinuria’. Several proteins can be found in the urine, but the most relevant to kidney disease is albumin. The presence of protein in the urine can act as a warning signal that there is a disorder with the kidneys. Food protein is digested and metabolized to produce uric acid and other waste products. These can build up in the body when there is decreased kidney function.

 

Kidney or renal failure occurs when the kidneys are unable to remove wastes from the blood and typically occurs as a chronic disease that progresses slowly over time. Individuals with end-stage chronic kidney disease have complete failure and require dialysis treatments to cleanse the body. Causes of this disease include hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and hereditary causes. Kidney failure requires a stringent diet to prevent or slow further damage to the kidneys and waste accumulation in the body. This diet controls electrolytes such as sodium and phosphorus intake and limits protein containing foods.

 

The recommended daily amount of protein for patients with kidney disease is 1 g per kilogram of body weight. Increase protein intake if undergoing dialysis treatment. Dialysis is needed when there is total kidney failure. Moderate amounts of protein are recommended after dialysis to replace lost muscles and tissues.

 

High potassium levels are most often associated with kidney failure, in which potassium levels build up and cannot be excreted in the urine.

 

Important treatments for kidney disease are tight control of blood glucose and blood pressure. Blood pressure has a dramatic effect on the rate at which the disease progresses. Even a mild rise in blood pressure can quickly make kidney disease worsen. Four ways to lower the blood pressure are losing weight, eating less salt, avoiding alcohol and tobacco and getting regular exercise.

 

Alpha lipoic acid works as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage and thus relieve peripheral neuropathy which can be caused by injury, nutritional deficiencies, chemotherapy or by conditions such as  kidney failure. Symptoms can include pain, burning, numbness, tingling, weakness and itching.

Highest food sources of alpha-lipoic acid in alphabetical order

  • Brewers yeast

  • Broccoli

  • Brussel sprouts

  • Flaxseeds

  • Organ meats

  • Peas

  • Rice bran

  • Spinach

  • Swiss chard

  • Tomatoes

  • Watercress

Passion fruit contains components which have the ability to protect the kidneys.

 

Horny goat weed is useful for treating kidney disorders.

 

Mashua has properties that can repair kidney damage and eliminate bladder and kidney stones.

 

Kidney infections See Urinary tract infections below


Kidney stones

 

The kidneys extract waste and excess water from blood to make urine. The urine is sent to the urinary bladder through tubes called ureters. When the bladder is full, urine is released from the body through the urethra.

About 80% of kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate. A kidney stone often causes no pain if it remains in the kidney, and if it's very small it may pass through a ureter and out of the body without difficulty. However, a larger stone trying to pass through a ureter can cause excruciating pain. The stone can be removed by a variety of surgical treatments, but once a person has experienced one kidney stone the chance of developing another one is greatly increased.

 

In some people there is a genetic basis for the tendency to develop kidney stones, and the stones run in the family. This isn't always true, however. Diet plays an important role in the creation or prevention of a calcium oxalate kidney stone in people who are sensitive to oxalates.

Dehydration increases the risk of kidney stone development, since it causes a concentrated urine to be produced. In a person who is well hydrated, water dilutes the calcium oxalate in the urine and make the development of a kidney stone less likely. A diet that is high in oxalates can increase the risk of kidney stones, since it increases the probability that oxalates will be excreted into the urine. A diet high in salt promotes kidney stone formation by causing calcium to enter the urine. The calcium then binds with oxalate in the urine, potentially leading to the production of a stone.

 

Symptoms of kidney stones

  • Pain with urination

  • Severe pain on the sides of the body and back

  • Pain that spreads to the lower abs or groin

  • Pink, red or brown urine

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Cloudy or bad-smelling urine

  • Constant urge to urinate

  • Frequent urination

  • Fever and chills

Treatment depends upon what type of stones have formed but most will dissolve in urine acidified by consuming foods rich in vitamin C. Bladder stones are more likely if a person's diet is high in fat, sugar or salt. Vitamin A and/or vitamin B complex deficiencies may also increase the risk. A diet rich in vegetables, fruit and whole grains and a reduction of meat protein and fats can help to eliminate bladder stones. Drinking plenty of water can also help to flush out the stones.

For natural sources of these vitamins see:

Calcium oxalate stones

These are spiky hedgehog like crystals and stones that are more likely to appear in acidic urine but can also be present in urine of any pH. 1/2 a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda taken in a small glass of distilled water can rebalance the acid/alkaline levels in the body and help to break up bladder and kidney stones.

Calcium, phosphate and oxalate stones are the most common types of stones and are often a combination of calcium and oxalate, but can also be a combination of calcium and phosphate or a combination of all three. See Oxalic acid.

High urine oxalate levels encourage the development of calcium oxalate stones.  Protein digestion results in release of oxalates which under normal internal body conditions, bind with calcium and is eliminated via stools.  Oxalates are also produced by the liver.  In a situation where the oxalate levels become high due to increased intake of high oxalate foods, and calcium levels are low, some oxalates find no calcium compounds for binding purposes and are reabsorbed by the gastrointestinal tract only to be released into the circulatory system.  From here it finally enters the urinary tract, comes in contact with calcium compounds found suspended in urine and binds to them to form stones.

Foods that are rich in oxalates should be avoided if an individual is prone to developing calcium oxalate stones such as:

  • Almonds

  • Aubergine

  • Beans (green, runner)

  • Beetroot

  • Bell peppers (green)

  • Berries

  • Blackcurrants

  • Bran

  • Cabbage

  • Carrots

  • Cashews

  • Celery

  • Citrus peel

  • Chives

  • Chocolate

  • Cinnamon

  • Cocoa

  • Coffee

  • Collard greens

  • Corn silk

  • Dandelion

  • Figs

  • Fizzy drinks

  • Grapes (purple)

  • Gooseberries

  • Kale

  • Kiwifruit

  • Leeks

  • Legumes

  • Mustard (greens)

  • Nuts

  • Okra

  • Parsley

  • Parsnips

  • Peanuts

  • Pecans

  • Pepper

  • Plums

  • Potatoes

  • Prunes

  • Quinoa

  • Red currants

  • Rhubarb

  • Sesame butter (tahini)

  • Sorrel

  • Soya beans

  • Spinach

  • Squash

  • Strawberries

  • Swede

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Swiss chard

  • Tangerines

  • Tea (black)

  • Tomatoes

  • Walnuts

  • Watercress

  • Wheat

  • Yams

 

Drinking lemonade or limeade made with fresh organic lemons or limes and bottled sparkling mineral water can protect against calcium oxalate bladder stones and help to treat them because of the citric acid they contain. It has the ability to chelate calcium (bind to it) and remove it from the body and because of it's additional beneficial alkalising properties and plenty of vitamin C, it can also help all other types of urinary infections and disorders. Citrus fruits can be a bladder irritant though.

It is best to also avoid the following when calcium oxalate stones are present as they can be bladder irritants or increase oxalate levels:

  • Alcohol

  • Caffeine

  • Drugs (unless prescribed as vital especially antibiotics)

  • Nicotine

  • Supplements especially calcium, cinnamon, cranberry, turmeric and vitamin C.

Also avoid the following:

  • Foods with any E number additives

  • High fructose foods especially corn syrup

  • Maple syrup

  • Margarine

  • Processed foods such as bread, biscuits, cereals, confectionary, ready meals, sauces and snacks.

  • Processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausages.

  • Refined foods such as white flour, white rice and table salt.

  • Sugar

Acidic urine: Calcium oxalate stones form in acidic urine. A diet rich in citrus fruits, most vegetables and legumes will keep the urine alkaline. A diet high in meat and sugar will keep the urine acidic.

Citrate: is the main substance in the body that is responsible for removing excess calcium. It also blocks the process that turns calcium crystals into stones. Too much salt or a deficiency of magnesium and potassium can lower citrate levels. See below for magnesium and potassium rich foods.

Chloride: has a negative charge and calcium has a positive charge so they balance each other in the body. Excess chloride may lead to excess calcium. Chloride is found in table salt or sea salt as sodium chloride. It is also found in many vegetables. Foods with higher amounts of chloride include celery, lettuce, olives, rye, seaweed, and tomatoes. Limiting chloride levels is important and as it is found in many processed foods in high amount these should be avoided when calcium oxalate stones are present.

Protein: Urate, the salt formed from uric acid, creates the centre of a crystal (nidus), around which calcium oxalate crystals form and grow. Such stones tend to be severe and recurrent. They appear to be strongly related to a high intake of protein.

If nitrogen intake exceeds nitrogen excretion, as can occur with high-protein diets, excess protein leaves the body accompanied by calcium, increasing the risk for kidney stones and osteoporosis. The amount of protein required in the daily diet is far less than people normally consume. Meat portions should never be larger than the size of the fist of the person consuming it and this includes children. Limit the intake of animal protein to reduce oxalate formation after protein digestion.

Salt can cause problems by increasing the amount of calcium that is excreted in the urine, which in turn increases the risk of kidney stones developing. Try to avoid adding salt to meals and avoid processed foods that are often high in salt content.

Stress: People who have a major, stressful life experience may be more likely to develop stones. Some experts speculate that this increased risk may be due to an anti-diuretic  hormone called vasopressin, which is released in response to stress. Vasopressin also decreases the volume of urine, which makes the chemicals in urine more concentrated and prone to forming crystals and stones.

Vitamin C: Oxalate can be a by-product of vitamin C metabolism.  Never take vitamin C supplements as ascorbic acid on its own can increase the formation of kidney stones and cause an imbalance of minerals.

Nutrients that help to dissolve and prevent calcium oxalate stones

Do not take any nutrient supplements but rather consume the foods rich in these nutrients as they contain the cofactors required and will not lead to imbalances of other nutrients. Only foods that are appropriate for those with calcium oxalate stones are included in this guide.

Calcium: The correct balance of vitamins and minerals are very important and although many would think too much calcium was the culprit of calcium oxalate stones this is in fact the opposite of what actually happens. To prevent re-occurrences of stones calcium-rich foods should be increased. This is to provide enough calcium compounds for the oxalates, either produced by the liver or present from dietary sources, to bind themselves to and get eliminated out of the body through stools.  Never take of calcium supplements though as studies have revealed that they increases calcium oxalate stones.  The reason behind this may be that when taken in a supplement form, calcium is absorbed and eliminated in urine increasing the chances of stone formation. This means that antacid medications should be avoided too.

Highest sources of calcium in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Dried herbs such as basil, dill, marjoram, rosemary and thyme 2113 mg

  • Cheese such as goat’s, gruyere, parmesan, Romano and Swiss 1376 mg

  • Sesame seeds 975 mg

  • Mozzarella cheese 961 mg

  • Tinned fish with bones such as sardines, mackerel and pilchards 383 mg

  • Tofu 372 mg

  • Almonds 264 mg

  • Flaxseeds 255 mg

  • Anchovies 232 mg

  • Chlorella 221mg

  • Mussels 180 mg

  • Oysters 170 mg

  • Brazil nuts 160 mg

  • Prawns 150 mg

  • Tripe 150 mg

  • Scallops, spirulina and watercress 120 mg

  • Whole milk and whole yoghurt 113 mg

  • Chinese cabbage 105 mg

  • Dark green leafy vegetables such as dandelion greens, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and turnip greens  99 mg

  • Okra 77 mg

  • Soya beans 75 mg

  • Boneless fish such as bass, herring, pike, perch, pollock and rainbow trout 74 mg

  • Kidney beans 70 mg

  • Eggs 60 mg

  • Broccoli 47 mg

Copper, together with zinc improves the absorption of vitamin D which aids in the absorption of calcium. Calcium cannot achieve its objectives unless phosphorous is also present in a proper balance. Too much phosphorous, though, can interfere with the body's ability to use iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Phosphorous, in the form of phosphate or phosphoric acid, is often added to processed foods and carbonated soft drinks and too much phosphorous can reduce the amount of calcium that the body absorbs so these foods should be eliminated from the diet.

Vitamin D: Ensure that vitamin D levels are sufficient especially during the winter months or if work or lifestyle involves covering up or staying indoors frequently during the day time. Allowing ten minutes during the midday sun on as much exposed bare skin as possible will increase vitamin D levels. When sufficient vitamin D is stored it can last a person for up to 60 days. To ensure these is enough vitamin D available for calcium absorption take one krill oil capsule daily regardless as this also provides essential omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin E: It is important to consume vitamin E rich foods when any foods containing vitamin C are consumed as this keeps the balance of minerals in order. Vitamin C lowers manganese and zinc, while vitamin E helps increase manganese and zinc absorption. Vitamin C increases iron absorption while vitamin E lowers it. See more natural sources of vitamin E below.

Eating a handful of seeds with fruits helps to keep this balance. Hemp seeds are particularly good because they also contain the correct ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Try grinding them and adding a tablespoon daily to meals and breakfasts.

Magnesium, potassium and zinc are vital for a healthy urinary system and may be lacking in the normal diet. A deficiency in magnesium encourages the development of calcium oxalate stones.  Magnesium normally remains in a state of constant rivalry with calcium, reducing their chances of binding with oxalates to form calculus. Vitamin B6 in  combination with magnesium has a double impact of preventing and dissolving calcium oxalate stones. Zinc is lost through drinking alcohol.

Highest sources of magnesium in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Rice bran 781 mg

  • Basil, coriander, dill and sage 694 mg

  • Hemp seeds 640 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 535 mg

  • Raw cocoa 499 mg

  • Flaxseeds 392 mg

  • Brazil nuts 376 mg

  • Sesame seeds 353 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 346 mg

  • Chia seeds 335 mg

  • Chlorella 315 mg

  • Wheat germ 313 mg

  • Cashew nuts 292 mg

  • Almonds 268 mg

  • Caraway seeds 258 mg

  • Black strap molasses and dulse 242 mg

  • Buckwheat 231 mg

  • Spirulina 189 mg

  • Oats 177 mg

  • Durum wheat 144 mg

  • Macadamia nuts 130 mg

  • Adzuki beans 127 mg

  • Kelp 121 mg

  • Millet 114 mg

  • Kale 88 mg

  • Anchovies 69 mg

  • Amaranth 65 mg

  • Globe artichoke 60 mg

  • Okra and nettles 57 mg

  • Chestnuts 54 mg

  • Rocket 47 mg

  • Dates 43 mg

  • Plantain 37 mg

  • Lentils 36 mg

  • Butternut squash 34 mg

  • Coconut 32 mg

  • Potatoes with skin 30 mg

  • Passion fruit 29 mg

  • Savoy cabbage, halibut 28 mg

  • Bananas, rabbit 27 mg

  • Bread fruit, green beans 25 mg

  • Peas 24 mg

  • Raspberries 22 mg

  • Guava 22 mg

  • Blackberries 20 mg

  • Courgettes 18 mg

  • Kiwi fruit, fennel, figs 17 mg

  • Endive 15 mg

  • Cucumber, lettuce 13 mg

Highest sources of vitamin B6 in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Whey 5.62mg

  • Yeast extract 4.60 mg

  • Rice bran 4.07 mg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 3.59 mg

  • Fish roe 3.50 mg

  • Spirulina 3.48 mg

  • Sage 2.69 mg

  • Paprika 2.51 mg

  • Wheat germ 2.26 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 2.09 mg

  • Goose 1.83 mg

  • Chicken livers 0.76 mg

  • Lobster 1.67 mg

  • Brewer’s yeast 1.50 mg

  • Duck 1.50 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 1.35 mg

  • Wheat germ 1.30 mg

  • Garlic 1.24 mg

  • Buckwheat 1.23 mg

  • Pistachio nuts 1.12 mg

  • Tuna fish 1.04 mg

  • Beef or calf’s liver 1.03 mg

  • Shiitake mushrooms 0.97 mg

  • Salmon 0.94 mg

  • Turkey 0.81 mg

  • Venison 0.76 mg

NOTE: Wild salmon (0.94 mg) contains far more vitamin B6 than farmed salmon (0.56 mg) and fresh salmon and tuna are far richer in vitamin B6 than tinned.

Highest sources of potassium in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Dried basil, chervil, coriander, dill, parsley 4240 mg

  • Sun dried tomatoes 3427 mg

  • Turmeric 2,525 mg

  • Raw cocoa 2509 mg

  • Whey powder 2289 mg

  • Paprika and chilli powder 2280 mg

  • Yeast extract 2100 mg

  • Soya beans 1,797 mg

  • Cumin 1,788 mg

  • Fennel seeds 1,694 mg

  • Rice bran 1,485 mg

  • Black strap molasses 1464 mg

  • Kidney beans 1,406

  • Dried soya beans 1364 mg

  • Spirulina 1,363 mg

  • Coriander seeds 1,267 mg

  • Apricots dried 1,162 mg

  • Rabbit stewed 1026 mg

  • Pistachio nuts 1007 mg

  • Squash and pumpkin seeds 919 mg

  • Chick peas 875 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 850 mg

  • Raisins 749 mg

  • Prunes 732 mg

  • Almonds 705 mg

  • Dates 696 mg

  • Whelks 694 mg

  • Dried figs 680 mg

  • Cashew nuts 660 mg

  • Peanut butter 649 mg

  • Clams 628 mg

  • Watermelon seeds 648 mg

  • Pine nuts 597 mg

  • Chestnuts 592 mg

  • Spinach raw 558 mg

  • Anchovies 544 mg

  • Baked potatoes 535 mg

  • Coriander leaves 521 mg

  • Mackerel 520 mg

  • Breadfruit 490 mg

  • Avocados 485 mg

  • Sweet potato baked 475 mg

  • Sesame seeds 468 mg

  • Spinach boiled 466 mg

  • Walnuts 441mg

  • Soya sauce 435 mg

  • Black beans 431 mg

  • Cinnamon 431 mg

  • Pork 423 mg

  • Potatoes 421 mg

  • Guava 417 mg

  • Fennel 414 mg

  • Bulgur wheat 410 mg

  • Garlic 401 mg

  • Brussel sprouts (juiced raw) 389 mg

  • Lentils cooked 369 mg

  • Salmon 363 mg

  • Bananas 358 mg

  • Coconut 356 mg

  • Nutmeg 350 mg

  • Passion fruit 348 mg

  • Green chilli peppers 340 mg

  • Sweet potatoes 337 mg

  • Venison 335 mg

  • Watercress 330 mg

  • Carrots 320 mg

  • Bass 328 mg

  • Red chilli peppers 322 mg

  • Black currants 322 mg

  • Mushrooms 318 mg

  • Brussel sprouts boiled 317 mg

  • Kiwi fruit 316 mg

  • Lamb 310 mg

  • Beef lean 318 mg

  • Cannellini beans 307 mg

  • Sweet corn 287 mg

  • Bread bread 285 mg

  • Butternut squash baked 284 mg

  • Soda bread 266 mg

  • Coconut milk 263 mg

  • Apricots 259 mg

  • Coconut water 250 mg

  • Peas 240 mg

  • Sweet potato boiled 230 mg

  • Chicken 223 mg

  • Goat's milk 204 mg

  • Orange juice 200 mg

  • Grapes 191 mg

  • Peaches 190 mg

  • Oranges 181 mg

  • Clementine's 177 mg

  • Bell pepper green raw 175 mg

  • Cabbage 170 mg

  • Bell peppers green (boiled) 166 mg

  • Blackberries 162 mg

  • Plums 157 mg

  • Raspberries 151 mg

  • Milk semi-skimmed 150 mg

  • Onions 146 mg

  • Cauliflower boiled 142 mg

  • Yoghurt 141 mg

  • Lemon 138 mg

  • Grapefruit 135 mg

  • Butternut squash boiled 133 mg

  • Milk (whole) 132 mg

  • Sour dough bread 128 mg

  • Eggs 126 mg

  • White bread 115 mg

  • Balsamic vinegar 112 mg

  • Apples 107 mg

  • Cottage cheese 104 mg

  • Blueberries 77 mg

  • Apple cider vinegar mg

  • Oats 61 mg

  • Cous cous 58 mg

  • Honey 52 mg

  • Brown rice 43 mg

  • Butter 24 mg

  • Pasta 24 mg

  • White rice 20 mg

  • Tofu 20 mg

  • Sugar 2 mg

  • Olive oil 1 mg

  • Sesame oil 0 mg

Highest sources of zinc in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Oysters 78.6 mg

  • Chlorella 71 mg

  • Wheat germ 16.7 mg

  • Beef 12.3 mg

  • Calf's liver 11.9 mg

  • Hemp seeds 11.5 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 10.3 mg

  • Sesame and watermelon seeds 10.2 mg

  • Bamboo shoots, endives and gourds 9 mg

  • Chervil (herb) 8.8 mg

  • Lamb 8.7 mg

  • Venison 8.6 mg

  • Alfalfa seeds (sprouted), amaranth leaves, Crimini mushrooms, Irish moss and tea 8 mg

  • Crab 7.6 mg

  • Lobster 7.3 mg

  • Agave, basil, broccoli, buffalo, elk, emu, oats, ostrich, spinach and turkey 7 mg

  • Cocoa powder 6.8 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.8 mg

  • Asparagus, chicken livers, laver seaweed, mushrooms, parsley and rice bran 5.7 mg

  • Cashew nuts 5.6 mg

  • Pork 5.1 mg

  • Jute (herb), lemon grass, mung beans, Portobello mushrooms, radishes and shiitake mushrooms 5 mg

  • Agar seaweed, butterbur, cauliflower, chicory, Chinese cabbage, chives, coriander, green beans, lentils, lettuce, okra, rocket, spring onions, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes and wasabi (yellow) 3.4 mg

  • Peanuts 3.3 mg

  • Cheddar cheese 3.1 mg

  • Mozzarella cheese 2.9 mg

  • Anchovies and rabbit 2.4 mg

  • Cabbage, cucumber, jalapeno peppers, , kidney beans, navy beans, spirulina and turnip greens 2 mg

  • Mussels 1.6 mg

  • Arrowroot, artichokes (globe), beetroot, bell peppers, black eyed peas, borage, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, butter beans, cabbage, carrots, celery, chilli peppers, courgettes, dandelion greens, garlic, horseradish, kale, kelp, mustard greens, peas, pinto beans, potatoes, pumpkin, turnips, Swede, sweet potato, tomatoes (red),  wakame (seaweed), watercress and winged beans 1.2 mg

Vitamin A deficiency may increase the formation of stones. Two forms of vitamin A are available in the human diet: preformed vitamin A (retinol and its esterified form, retinyl ester) and pro-vitamin A carotenoids.

Natural sources of preformed vitamin A

  • Beef

  • Cheese

  • Cod liver oil

  • Crab

  • Cuttlefish

  • Egg yolks

  • Fish and fish eggs

  • Game birds

  • Lamb

  • Lobster

  • Milk (full cream)

  • Organ meats

  • Rabbit

  • Shellfish

  • Venison

See also

Vitamin B complex deficiencies may increase the formation of stones. Eggs, sea foods and seeds are the best sources of the B complex of vitamins. For more natural sources of these nutrients see Vitamin B complex

Herbs that can prevent bladder and kidney stones

Many herbs have diuretic properties and this increase urine flow and hence dilutes the urine in the kidneys. Antilithic (anti-stone) and diuretic herbs taken as teas can help prevent stones or gravel from developing and help dissolve those that have formed and include:

NOTE: If diabetes is present or blood pressure or blood-thinning medication are being taken, devil's claw should be avoided.

Foods known to dissolve and prevent calcium oxalate stones

Alfalfa has been used by the Chinese since the sixth century to treat kidney stones and to relieve fluid retention and swelling. Grow alfalfa sprouts from seed easily by placing a tablespoon in a jam jar covered in muslin or and piece of a stocking and secured using a rubber band and rinse daily with clean water (rinse twice in hot dry weather). Make sure to drain the jar upside down to remove all water for ten minutes otherwise the seeds will just rot Then shake the jar gently and turn the right side up and place on a sunny window sill. The sprouts will be ready to eat in five days or so and can be consumed raw as salad greens. Shake off excess seed husks but do not worry if some are left as they act as good roughage.

Asparagus can prevent and treat urinary tract infections and stones. Always consume fresh organic asparagus and not canned asparagus as tin is often added to improve the taste.

Barley grass contains vitamin B12 which is rare for plant foods and a teaspoon of barley grass powder should be consume per day when meat is reduced in the diet.

Garlic has diuretic properties. Consume three garlic cloves per day.

Grapefruit juice is a powerful tool that reduces calcium oxalate kidney stones. Drink half to one litre of grapefruit juice daily to increase urine pH and citrate levels which will help to reduce the development of calcium oxalate stones. NOTE: Grapefruit can interact with many medications.

Melon, especially watermelon, has diuretic properties that helps increase urine flow and dilutes the urine.

Passion fruit contains components which have the ability to protect the kidneys and prevent the formation of stones.

Prebiotic and probiotic foods: Deficiencies in Oxalobacter formigenes, a bacteria that lives in the large intestines and breaks down oxalate, can be a cause of excess oxalates in the kidneys leading to stone formation. Other bacteria may play a role in oxalate degradation in the intestines, including Eubacterium lentum, Enterococcus faecalis, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis. Antibiotics and a diet lacking in the correct foods can kill off these beneficial bacteria. To gain a colonisation of these vital bacteria and a healthy environment for them to thrive consume a wide variety of fermented foods such as:

Probiotic foods that contain beneficial bacteria

  • Brine pickles (eggs, fruit, nuts, seeds and vegetables that have been fermented by lactic acid bacteria)

  • Kefir (fermented milk drink)

  • Kimchi (a fermented, spicy Korean side dish)

  • Kombucha (fermented black or green Asian tea)

  • Miso (a Japanese fermented seasoning made with soya beans, salt and a type of fungus called koji)

  • Sauerkraut (finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria)

  • Tempeh (fermented soya beans)

  • Yoghurt (with live cultures)

Prebiotic foods that feed the existing beneficial bacteria

One or more of the following should be consumed each day to feed the beneficial bacteria present in the guts:

  • Agave

  • Apples

  • Asparagus

  • Banana

  • Beans

  • Bran

  • Broccoli

  • Burdock root

  • Cabbage

  • Cauliflower

  • Celeriac

  • Chicory root

  • Cocoa (raw)

  • Coconut flesh

  • Dandelion root

  • Elecampane

  • Elephant foot yam

  • Garlic

  • Jerusalem artichoke

  • Jicama root

  • Kale

  • Leeks

  • Lentils

  • Mashua

  • Mugwort

  • Oats

  • Onions

  • Parsnips

  • Peas

  • Radish

  • Rampion

  • Salsify

  • Turnip

  • Swede

  • Sweet potato

  • Whole grains

  • Yacon root

  • Yams

Psyllium husks: Take one tablespoon of psyllium husks per day for fibre, as a digestive aid and for intestinal and colon health. This can be consumed alone in a large glass of water or with meals.

Horseradish, mustard seeds, radishes and other hot vegetables such as mashua, which is a mustard-like tuber grown in the Andes,  have properties that can repair kidney damage and help the body to eliminate bladder and kidney stones.

Essentials to help eliminate bladder and kidney stones

  • Have tests to ensure calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, vitamin B6 and vitamin D levels are sufficient. Magnesium, vitamin B 6 and vitamin D are most important.

  • Reduce animal protein, salt and sugar intake.  Fast foods and takeaways are always high in these compounds.

  • Taking dried fruits and seeds to eat when travelling can help kerb the appetite. Dates and dried figs are especially beneficial as they are rich in magnesium and calcium.

  • Consume at least one squeezed citrus fruit every day.

  • Consume at least six glasses of bottled mineral water spread throughout  the day with the last one being drunk just before retiring to bed.

  • Consume a handful of seeds such as chia, flax, hemp, sunflower and/or pumpkin every day.

  • Take one krill oil capsule per day to reduce calcium oxalate stone formation.

  • Take one tablespoon of psyllium husks per day with plenty of water..

  • Try to eliminate stress as much as possible. Relaxation is an important way to reduce production of the hormone that can increase the formation of calcium oxalate stones.

Before breakfast

Upon waking take half a glass of warm water and add the following then drink on an empty stomach. This will help to cleanse the liver, flush out the kidneys and make urine more alkaline.

  • One teaspoon of unpasteurised organic apple cider vinegar.

  • Half a freshly squeezed lemon or lime

  • One teaspoon of honey

Beverages to help dissolve stones

Barley water is especially useful to help dissolve stones. Place two tablespoons of barley in a large pan of water and bring to the boil. Then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the water into a container and chill then add some fruit juice of choice for taste. Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice is best.

Juices: Juicing green leafy vegetables should be avoided when suffering with calcium oxalate stones as they are high in oxalates. Boiling leafy vegetables and discarding the water can reduce oxalates but will also reduce water soluble vitamins and lose some important mineral content.

Drinking freshly squeezed orange juice and lemonade or limeade made with fresh organic lemons or limes and bottled sparkling mineral water can protect against calcium oxalate stones because of the citric acid they contain which has the ability to chelate calcium (bind to it) and remove it from the body and because of its additional beneficial alkalising properties, it can also help all other types of urinary infections and disorders. However, excessive consumption of citrus fruit s can be a bladder irritant so limit it to two or three fruits per day.

Eliminate fizzy drinks and only consume freshly squeezed or juiced organic fruits and vegetables. Choose two or three of the following to juice once per day:

  • Apricot

  • Asparagus

  • Cucumber

  • Elderberries

  • Lemon

  • Lime

  • Melon

  • Orange

  • Passion fruit

  • Watermelon

Hot drinks: Eliminate coffee and black tea and drink at least three cups of green and herbal teas per day instead. All common herbs have volatile aromatic oils which can help to repair the urinary system. Choose from anise, basil, chamomile, cloves, coriander, dill, lemongrass, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme. Add the herbs or seeds to hot water and allow to steep for five to ten minutes then strain and drink. The liquid can be gently reheated and adding lemon juice can increase the benefits of green and herbal teas tenfold. Never add sugar. Add one teaspoon of honey if sweetness is absolutely necessary.

Juice to dissolve calcium oxalate stones

Ingredients

  • One orange

  • One apple

  • One lemon

  • One piece of watermelon

  • Four ice cubes

Method

  • Grate the zest of half the lemon into a blender.

  • Peel and deseed the orange and lemon.

  • Remove the peel and seeds from the watermelon.

  • Deseed the apple but do not remove the skin.

  • Chop the fruit into small pieces and place in a blender with the ice cubes.

  • Blend until smooth.

  • Consume twice a day before meals.

Triple phosphate (struvite) stones

Triple phosphate stones are formed mainly in urine that is alkaline and dissolves in acidic urine. One of the common remedies for acidifying urine is cranberry extract.

Uric acid stones

A decrease in purines will lower uric acid levels and purines are formed more during digestion of the foods listed below. Cut right down on these as well as animal fats and instead increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and low fat dairy products.

Natural sources of purines

Increasing the intake of vegetables, particularly those with nutrients like apigenin and other flavonoids. Apigenin is a flavonoid found in high amounts in parsley, peppermint and thyme. The enzyme xanthine oxidase catalyses the oxidation of hypoxanthine to xanthine and then to uric acid, which plays a crucial role in gout. Apigenin is a potent inhibitor of xanthine oxidase. 

Chrysin, luteolin, quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, and isorhamnetin are other flavonoids that also inhibit xanthine oxidase activity therefore cumin and turmeric can also be of benefit.

Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid that helps break down and eliminate uric acid. It also helps restore the alkaline acid balance in the body and provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Add one teaspoon of raw, organic, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink this solution two or three times a day. Gradually increase the amount of apple cider vinegar up to two tablespoons per glass of water and continue this remedy until uric acid levels come down.

NOTE: Do not take apple cider vinegar in excess as it may decrease potassium levels in the body. It may also interfere with diuretic drugs.

Barley water is especially useful to treat bladder stones. Place two tablespoons of barley in a large pan of water and bring to the boil. Then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the water into a container and chill then add some fruit juice of choice for taste. Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice is best.

Bicarbonate of soda, is highly beneficial for lowering uric acid levels and reducing gout pain. It helps maintain the natural alkaline balance in the body and makes the uric acid more soluble and easier to flush out of the kidneys. Mix one-half teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink up to four glasses of this daily for two weeks.

NOTE: Do not take bicarbonate of soda on a regular basis. Also, do not follow this remedy if suffering from high blood pressure. People age 60 or older should not drink more than three glasses of this solution daily.

Cherries and dark berries contain chemicals that help reduce uric acid levels. Plus, purple and blue-coloured berries contain flavonoids called anthocyanins that help lower uric acid and reduce inflammation and stiffness. Eat one-half cup of cherries daily for a few weeks. You can also drink one or two cups of tart cherry juice for about four weeks.

Celery, a natural diuretic, helps alkalise the blood and decrease inflammation. Try a thimble full of celery seeds each day to help dissolve stones.

 

Chanca puedra is an Amazonian herb that can safely dissolve stones in the bladder, gall bladder and the kidneys.

Lemon juice: Though it may seem that lemon juice will make the body more acidic, in actuality, it produces an alkaline effect and helps neutralise uric acid. Plus, its vitamin C content also helps lower uric acid levels. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a glass of warm water. Drink it in the morning on an empty stomach. Continue for at least a few weeks. Extra vitamin C also helps to prevent uric acid build-up.

Coconut, olive or rapeseed oil: Most vegetable oils turn into rancid fats when heated or processed. The rancid fats destroy the vital vitamin E in the body, which is essential for controlling uric acid levels. Always choose cold-pressed coconut, olive or rapeseed oil rather than using vegetable oil, butter or shortening in cooking and baking. These oils contain monounsaturated fats that remain stable when heated. Plus, the are high in vitamin E and antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory benefits.

The following three herbs are traditionally known to be useful in treating bladder stones. Take as teas three times a day.

  1. Hydrangea

  2. Queen of the meadow

  3. Stone root

Tea, especially green tea, is very beneficial to the urinary system and can reduce uric levels in the blood.

Vitamin C is vital to help stabilise uric acid levels.

Highest sources of vitamin C in milligrams per 100 grams

  1. Acerola cherries 1677.6 mg

  2. Camu camu berries 532 mg

  3. Rosehips 426 mg

  4. Green chillies 242.5 mg

  5. Guavas 228.3 mg

  6. Yellow bell peppers 183.5 mg

  7. Black currants 181 mg

  8. Thyme 160.01 mg

  9. Red chillies 143.7 mg

  10. Drumstick pods 141 mg

  11. Kale 120 mg

  12. Jalapeno peppers 118.6 mg

  13. Kiwi fruit 105.4 mg

  14. Sun dried tomatoes 102 mg

  15. Broccoli 89 mg

  16. Brussel sprouts 85 mg

  17. Cloves, saffron 81 mg

  18. Chilli pepper 76 mg

  19. Mustard greens 70 mg

  20. Cress 69 mg

  1. Persimmons fruit 66 mg

  2. Swede 62 mg

  3. Basil 61 mg

  4. Papaya 60 mg

  5. Rosemary 61 mg

  6. Strawberries 58 mg

  7. Chives 58 mg

  8. Oranges 53.2 mg

  9. Lemons 53 mg

  10. Pineapple 48 mg

  11. Cauliflower 48 mg

  12. Kumquats 43.9 mg

  13. Watercress 43 mg

  14. Wasabi root 41.9 mg

  15. Kidney bean sprouts 38.7 mg

  16. Melon 36.7 mg

  17. Elderberries 36 mg

  18. Breadfruit 29 mg

  19. Coriander 27 mg

Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory benefits and must consumed in the same amount as vitamin C rich foods as they have a synergistic effect on the balance of iron, magnesium and zinc levels in the body..

Highest sources of vitamin E in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Wheat germ 149.4 mg

  • Hemp seeds 55 mg

  • Hazelnut oil 47 mg

  • Almond oil 39 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 38.3 mg

  • Chilli powder 38.1 mg

  • Paprika 38 mg

  • Rice bran oil 32 mg

  • Grape seed oil 29 mg

  • Almonds 26.2 mg

  • Oregano 18.3 mg

  • Hazelnuts 17 mg

  • Flaxseed oil 17 mg

  • Peanut oil 16 mg

  • Hazelnuts 15.3 mg

  • Corn oil 15 mg

  • Olive oil 14 mg

  • Soya bean oil 12 mg

  • Pine nuts 9.3 mg

  • Cloves (ground) 9 mg

  • Peanuts 8 mg

  • Celery flakes (dried) 6 mg

  • Spirulina 5 mg

  • Dried apricots 4.3 mg

  • Bell peppers (red), eel, olives and salmon 4 mg

  • Jalapeno peppers 3.6 mg

  • Anchovies 3.3 mg

  • Broccoli, chicken, chilli peppers (sun-dried), cod, crayfish, dandelion greens, egg yolk, duck, goose, pecan nuts, spinach, tomatoes (tinned or pureed) turkey and turnip greens 3 mg

  • Avocado, beef, bilberries, blue berries, butter, chicory greens, cinnamon (ground), crab, halibut, herring (pickled), mackerel, marjoram, mustard greens, pistachio nuts, poppy seeds, sardines, sesame seeds, Swiss chard, trout, tuna, turnips and walnuts 2 mg

  • Fish roe 1.9 mg

  • Asparagus, kiwi fruit and parsnips 1.5 mg

  • Black berries 1.2 mg

  • Chlorella 1.1 mg

Gentle regular exercise can also help to eliminate bladder stones.

NOTE: People with thyroid gland or gall bladder disorders or kidney stones or bladder stones should avoid cabbage.

Natural remedies to reduce and eliminate  bladder and kidney stones

 

Basil is a natural remedy for kidney stones as it can strengthen the kidneys. Make a tea or juice out of fresh basil leaves, by steeping them for ten minutes in hot water. Then strain and add a teaspoon of raw honey. Drinking two to three cups everyday can help to alleviate the discomfort of kidney stones.

 

Dandelion root tea. Drinking three cups a day of dandelion tea can help to dissolve and eliminate kidney stones and acts as a natural diuretic. The roots of dandelions can be washed and dried slowly in a warm oven or dehydrator and then chopped up and simmered gently for fifteen minutes. Then strain the liquid and drink unsweetened as the bitterness helps to stimulate digestive juices. Alternative dandelion root teabags can be used but may not be as effective.

 

Marshmallow root has strong anti-inflammatory properties. This herb contains mucilages, which form a protective coating to soothe tissues that have become inflamed and irritated. This coating protects the digestive and urinary tract when kidney stones pass. A daily intake of two pints of marshmallow root tea can effectively flush out kidney stones from the body.

 

Pomegranates are low in potassium and therefore are a good addition for people who are on a renal diet. A renal diet is generally low in protein, salt, phosphorus and potassium and is recommended for people who are suffering from renal problems like kidney stones and kidney failure.

 

Wild carrot: As an aromatic herb, wild carrot  is not to be confused with the common vegetable carrot. The leaves and seeds of the wild carrot are a known diuretic, which means they encourages toxins and waste to be flushed out from the kidneys. It has been said that a herbal infusion of the wild carrot leaves and seeds is a good natural antidote to kidney stone formation. Even if stones have begun to form, the same concoction is still reported to be capable of diminishing stones and reducing their recurrence.

Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy

For larger stones that cannot be easily dissolved with diet therapy and require more immediate solution, then extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy can be performed.  With the help of sound waves, this procedure successfully breaks the stone into smaller pieces that can easily flow along with urine out of the system.  This is a non-invasive procedure and worth investigating before surgical procedures are undertaken.

Prostate gland

 

The prostate gland Increases in size as men age. This can lead to pressure on the bladder causing a frequent need to urinate. Not emptying the bladder completely can lead to urinary tract infection.

 

The prostate's purpose is to help with the male reproductive system. It makes up to 70% of the fluid that is ejaculated during intercourse, mixing its secretions with the sperm that are made in the testicles. The prostate also contracts at the time of ejaculation to prevent retrograde (backward) flow of semen into the bladder.

 

Because of its location, the symptoms of any prostate problem tend to be associated with the bladder and can include urgency to urinate, frequency of urination, burning with urination (dysuria), poor  urine flow, or inability to begin a urine stream.

 

The prostate gland
Click to enlarge

 

Prostatitis

The general term used to describe prostate inflammation is prostatitis but because the term is so general it does not adequately describe the range of abnormalities that can be associated with prostate inflammation.

There are four types of prostatitis:

  • Acute bacterial prostatitis

  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis

  • Chronic prostatitis without infection

  • Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis

Acute bacterial prostatitis is an infection of the prostate that is often caused by some of the same bacteria that cause bladder infections. These include E. coli, Klebsiella, and Proteus. While it may be acquired as a sexually transmitted disease, the infection can also spread to the prostate through the blood stream, directly from an adjacent organ, or as a complication of prostate biopsy.

Patients with acute bacterial prostatitis present with signs of an infection and may have:

Fever, chills and shakes. Commonly there is urgency and frequency of urination and dysuria (painful or difficult urination).

Chronic bacterial prostatitis is an uncommon illness in which there is an ongoing bacterial infection in the prostate. Chronic bacterial prostatitis generally causes no symptoms, however, on occasion; the low grade infection may flare and be associated with a bladder infection.

Chronic pelvic pain syndrome

Chronic prostatitis without infection is a condition where there is recurrent pelvic, testicle, or rectal pain without evidence of bladder infection. There may be difficulties with painful urination or ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. The cause of chronic prostatitis without infection is not clearly understood. Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis causes and symptoms.

Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis There are no symptoms. The cause of asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is not clearly understood.

Nature Cures Prostatitis

Beta sitosterol is an effective compound for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Natural sources of beta-sitosterol

  • Almonds
  • Amaranth
  • Avocado
  • Dark chocolate
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia
  • Pecans
  • Pistachio
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Saw palmetto berries
  • Squash seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Winged beans

 

Courgettes: There are components in courgettes that aid in reducing the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BOH), a condition in which the prostate gland enlarges and leads to complications with urination and sexual functions in men.

 

Hemp seeds are a super food which has nigh nutritional content and contain properties that protect the prostate.

 

Phyllanthus amarus herb is very effective in naturally treating prostatitis.

 

Saw palmetto berry is said to nourish glandular tissue and has been used by herbalists and others to nutritionally support the prostate gland. Saw palmetto prevents the excessive conversion of androgens to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Excessive levels of hormonal conversion to DHT are highly associated with prostate abnormalities in men and may be a cause of prostate cancer. Saw palmetto has been documented to increase prostate health.

 

To nourish the prostate make a tea from the following herbs: coneflower, corn silk, goldenseal and uva ursi and drink three times a day.

 

Raw juice therapy can successfully treat prostate problems. The best organic natural foods to juice are: apple, apricot, asparagus, carrot, celery, cranberry, cucumber, lemon, lettuce, parsley, spinach and watercress.

 

For more antibacterial natural remedies see also Urinary Tract Infection below.


Urinary tract infections

 

Bacteriuria refers to the presence of bacteria in the urine. Urinary tract infection implies the presence of characteristic symptoms and significant bacteriuria from kidneys to bladder. 

  • Lower urinary tract infection - infection of the bladder (cystitis)

  • Upper urinary tract infection  - infection of the kidneys (pyelitis and pyelonephritis)

  • Recurrent urinary tract infection - may be due to relapse or re-infection

Uncomplicated urinary tract infection  - infection of the urinary tract by a usual pathogen in a person with a normal urinary tract and with normal kidney function.

Complicated urinary tract infection  - occurs where anatomical, functional, or pharmacological factors predispose the person to persistent infection, recurrent infection or treatment failure, eg abnormal urinary tract.

Several micro-organisms are known to cause urinary tract infection, but the majority of infections will be produced by three organisms:

  • Escherichia coli

  • Staphylococcus saprophyticus

  • Proteus mirabilis

Klebsiellapneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterococcus faecalis are other major pathogens that cause kidney and urinary tract infections.

Infection with less common organisms is more likely to occur in patients who have an infection elsewhere, or frequent infections, are immune suppressed or have a catheter. Organisms which may produce infection under these circumstances include:

  • Candida albicans

  • Chlamydia trachomatis

  • Escherichia coli

  • Klebsiella spp

  • Leptospira spp

  • Neisseria gonorrhoea

  • Proteus mirabilis

  • Proteus vulgaris

  • Pseudomonas spp

  • Streptococcus pyogenes

  • Staphylococcus aureus

  • Staphylococcus saprophyticus

  • Treponoma pallidum

Patients of either sex are more likely to develop a urinary tract infection  if there is an abnormality of the renal tract or if there has been recent instrumentation of the renal tract.

Urinary tract infection occurs much less frequently in men at all ages. Between 52% and 90% of men with a urinary tract infection have been reported to have prostatic involvement in the infection, which can result in prostatic abscesses or prostatitis

 

Antibiotic use changes the intestinal and vaginal flora and promotes colonisation of the genital tract with E. coli, that can result in urinary tract infection 

 

Causes of urinary tract infections for both sexes

  • Bacteria Insufficient levels of lactobacilli (protective bacteria) particularly after 50 years of age

  • Bladder not emptying the bladder completely when urinating

  • Blood group urinary tract infection is 3-4 times more likely to occur in people with certain blood groups especially P1.

  • Deficiency in human beta-defensin-1 (HBD-1), a naturally occurring antibiotic.

  • Diabetes

  • Institutionalisation

  • Members of low income groups

  • New sexual partner

  • Poor diet - nutrient deficiency

  • Presence of a catheter

  • Sexual activity after a period of abstinence can cause a condition called honeymoon cystitis

  • Sickle cell trait

  • Skin allergies to ingredients in soaps, vaginal creams, bubble baths, or other chemicals that are used in the genital area are at high risk for urinary tract infections. In such cases, the allergies may cause small injuries that can introduce bacteria.

  • Spermicide

  • Sexual Intercourse A sudden increase in the frequency of sexual intercourse poses a significant risk for urinary tract infection, particularly if a diaphragm is used.

Some people carry a compound called sialosyl galactosyl globoside on the surface of kidney cells, which is a highly powerful receptor for E. coli bacteria

 

Causes of urinary tract infection for women

  • Allergies Some women experience urinary tract infection as an allergic reaction to latex in condoms or to oral contraceptives.

  • Diaphragm The spring rim of the diaphragm may bruise the area near the bladder neck, making it susceptible to bacteria

  • Condoms Non lubricated condoms may injure vaginal tissue and make it vulnerable to infections. (Using a sterile water-based lubricant, such as KY jelly, may help reduce this risk. Petroleum-based lubricants should be avoided because they weaken latex condoms.)

  • Sexual position (e.g., with the woman on top) can contribute to the risk

  • Spermicide, such as nonoxynol-9, doubles or triples a women's risk for urinary tract infection, regardless of whether it is used with a condom or diaphragm. (Spermicides also pose a risk for sexually transmitted infections and experts warn against their use)

  • Women who have had many children

  • Pregnancy. Although pregnancy does not increase the rates of asymptomatic bacteriuria, it does increase the risk that it will progress to a full-blown infection. About 2% to 11% of pregnant women have asymptomatic bacteriuria and, of those, 13% to 27% will develop a kidney infection late in their term. (It should be noted, however, that in early pregnancy, frequent urination, a common symptom of urinary tract infection, is most likely due to pressure on the bladder) All pregnant women should be tested for urinary tract infection

  • Genetics - immediate female relatives of women with recurrent urinary tract infection are more at risk

  • History of childhood urinary tract infections

  • Caesarean section with catheterization of the bladder

  • Epidural anaesthesia

  • Women who have had a UTI before or during pregnancy also have a higher risk of developing recurrent urinary tract infections after delivery. Approximately 25% to 33% of women who experience bacteriuria during pregnancy will have another urinary tract infection, sometimes as long as 10 to 14 years later.

Causes of urinary tract infection for older men and women

  • Menopause with oestrogen loss, the walls of the urinary tract thin out, weakening the mucous membrane and reducing its ability to resist bacteria. Estrogen loss has also been associated with reduction in certain immune factors in the vagina that help block E. coli from adhering to vaginal cells.

  • Bladder may lose elasticity and fail to empty completely.

  • Lactobacilli (protective bacteria) levels decline

  • Blood group P1 is associated with high levels of specific cells in the vagina and urethra that bind to a specific strain of E. coli that is resistant to normal infection-fighting mechanisms.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections

  • Acute confused state - particularly elderly patients.

  • Cloudy urine

  • Dysuria

  • Urinary frequency

  • Haematuria

  • Fever

  • Foul odour of urine

  • Nausea

  • Painful frequent passing of only small amounts of urine

  • Pyrexia

  • Rigors

  • Pubic, pelvic or loin pain

  • Sweating

  • Urgency to urinate

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Vomiting

Natural remedies for urinary tract infections

  • Apple cider vinegar: one teaspoon in a glass of warm water can help to eliminate the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections.

  • Asparagus can prevent and treat urinary tract infections.

  • Bicarbonate of soda: one teaspoon in a glass of water or milk can instantly treat urinary tract infections. Not to be taken by those also suffering with high blood pressure.

  • Cinnamon has powerful antibacterial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa

  • Coccinia leaf and root extract has antibacterial properties which can help to treat urinary tract infections. Boil 10 to 12 leaves in water for 10 to 15 minutes, strain and drink two times a day until the infection is gone.

  • Cranberry juice (pure unsweetened) and drinking plenty of bottled mineral water (non-carbonated) can eradicate urinary tract infections.

  • Dandelion tea is known to help with treating urinary tract infections. Drink three cups per day until the infection has gone.

  • Echinacea has powerful antibacterial and ant-virus properties which can aid in the treatment of urinary tract infections.

  • Brassicas, garlic, onion, olive oil and pepper can help to reduce inflammation caused by these bacterial infections.

  • Holy basil and neem leaves have antibacterial activity against Enterococcus faecalis.

  • Juices: Blueberry juice, ginger and pomegranate juice prevent the E.coli bacteria from adhere to the urinary tract lining and have powerful antibacterial properties thus preventing the development of infection.

  • Phyllanthus amarus herb is very effective in naturally treating urinary tract infections.

  • Raw juice therapy can successfully treat urinary tract infections. The best organic natural foods to juice are: apple, apricot, lemon, carrot, celery, cranberry, cucumber, parsley and watercress.

  • Yellow dock has antibacterial properties which can help to treat urinary tract infections.

See the Medicinal Herbs and Spices page for more natural remedies.

 

See also:

Pyelonephritis

 

Pyelonephritis is an infection in the kidneys that can cause kidney damage. The symptoms of pyelonephritis are: high fever, back ache, shivering, headache, nausea and vomiting. Pyelonephritis requires urgent medical attention and sometimes hospital treatment.

Natural remedies for all urinary disorders

The delicate balance of the body can be affected by the slightest nutritional deficiency, imbalance of bacteria or toxicity so the diet must include good levels of fibre to feed the beneficial bacteria in the intestines and aid digestion and the manufacturer and absorption of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Certain phytonutrients have a direct impact on the urinary system and the natural foods listed below have been chosen for their particular beneficial effect in this area. Also foods to flush out toxins and ward off pathogenic bacteria, yeasts and viruses have been included as these can also seriously affect the absorption and manufacture of vital nutrients required by the body to take care of the urinary system.

Consume a wide variety of the foods below in the daily diet to benefit from their powerful properties. Eating a multitude (not just 5) of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices per day will ensure that all the nutrients required have been ingested. If nothing else is consumed, but the natural foods listed here, most conditions affecting the urinary system will be healed.

These ingredients together taken in a glass of warm water first thing in the morning will detoxify the blood:

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Chilli pepper

  • Honey

  • Lemon or lime juice

  • Turmeric

Brine Pickles is a way to store vegetable and fruits all year and gain, not only the nutrients the urinary system needs, but the addition of beneficial bacteria which the intestine needs.

Cod liver or krill oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins needed for a healthy urinary system. Take one high strength capsule per day.

Phyllanthus amarus herb is very effective in naturally treating cystitis and urinary tract infections.

The raw juice of parsley, carrots and celery it is very valuable as nourishment for the kidneys and bladder and as an aid in allaying inflammation of the urethra and genital organs.

Potassium, magnesium, zinc and the B vitamins are vital for a healthy urinary system and may be lacking in the normal diet. Do not take supplements as this will add to the strain on the kidneys. Click the links to find out the natural foods containing these nutrients.

Eliminate from the diet

  • Almonds

  • Cabbage

  • Kale

  • Margarine

  • Fatty meats, salt, sugar, sugar free products,

  • Food with any additives like aspartame

  • Plums

  • Processed and refined foods

  • Prunes

  • White flour

Salt intake is far too high in a diet of processed foods. This places a huge strain on the urinary system. If sodium (salt) levels in the blood and urine are too high, see what foods to avoid here: Sodium

Water retention

 

Eating the correct foods to gain a natural diuretic and water balancing affect in the body will benefit the whole system as they also contain many other essential nutrients and no side effects. Natural food remedies which can aid as a diuretic, reduce water retention and flush out toxins are:

  • Abuta is an Amazonian medicinal herb that acts a good diuretic.

  • Alfalfa seed sprouts - once a day - highly nutritional, assists in weight loss, purifies and thins the blood.

  • Apple cider vinegar cleanses the liver, kidneys and bladder and prevent infections of this area. Take one tablespoon per day.

  • Artichokes are a natural diuretic.

  • Asparagus contains asparigine - a chemical alkaloid that boosts kidney performance improving waste removal from the body

  • Banana one a day to balances sodium and potassium in the blood – tablet diuretics reduce potassium levels

  • Beetroot nourishes kidneys, lowers blood pressure, a natural diuretic, attacks floating body fats and fatty deposits.

  • Berries possess powerful antioxidants which cleanse the blood.

  • Black currants are a diuretic with a high potassium level.

  • Black pepper corns grind onto everything, transports the nutrients to different parts of body, reduces congestion in the lungs

  • Blueberries prevent the E.coli bacteria from adhere to the urinary tract lining and have powerful antibacterial properties thus preventing the development of infection.

  • Brussel sprouts help in stimulating the kidneys and pancreas and results in better cleansing of cells.

  • Carrots provide nourishment for the kidneys and bladder and reduce inflammation of the urethra.

  • Celery nourishes the kidneys and reduces blood pressure.

  • Chives are valuable as a blood cleanser and exercise a very strong diuretic action however they should not be consumed at the same time as dinking beer as this can cause bladder irritation.

  • Cinnamon has powerful antibacterial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria that can infect the kidneys and urinary tract.

  • Cranberries prevents the E.coli bacteria from adhere to the urinary tract lining and has powerful antibacterial properties thus preventing the development of infection.

  • Cucumbers are rich in sulphur and silicon that stimulate the kidneys into better removal of uric acid.

  • Dandelion: Four cups a day with one teaspoon of honey. Pour hot, but not boiling water, from the kettle on a teaspoon of the leaves in a cup and drink three times a day. Dandelion is a natural diuretic. It stimulates the removal of waste/toxins via the bile and the urine, and spares the potassium that is otherwise lost with conventional diuretics.

  • Fig is oxidant, laxative, diuretic, digestible and a blood cleanser.

  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil improves blood flow.

  • Garlic is a natural diuretic food that also helps with the break down of fat.

  • Ginger lowers blood pressure and purifies and thins the blood. It also prevents the E.coli bacteria from adhere to the urinary tract lining and has powerful antibacterial properties thus preventing the development of infection.

  • Echinacea, grapefruit seed extract and wormwood taken together has very effective antibiotic properties against the enterococcus, staphylococcus and other bacteria that can infect the urinary tract and kidneys. Grapefruit seed extract is made from the seeds and connecting tissues of the fruit.

  • Green tea: Four cups a day, natural diuretic, aids in weight loss and contains amazing amount of nutrients.

  • Holy basil and neem leaves have powerful antibacterial activity against Enterococcus faecalis bacteria that can cause kidney and urinary tract infections.

  • Horseradish speeds up the metabolism and cleans the kidneys and acts as a powerful diuretic.

  • Hydrangea can strengthen the urinary tract and help regulate its function.

  • Lemon is a natural diuretic which can also regulate heart pressure and dissolve certain types of kidney and bladder stones.

  • Lingonberries have powerful properties that can fight urinary tract infection.

  • Mango is detoxifying and diuretic.

  • Melon is alkalising, mineralising, oxidant and diuretic and helps control heart rate and blood pressure offering protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.

  • Oats contain silica - a natural diuretic.

  • Onions (raw) speed up the metabolism.

  • Papayas are diuretic and laxative.

  • Parsley supports the kidneys, bladder and urethra and purifies the blood.

  • Peaches are diuretic, depurative and detoxifying.

  • Pomegranate juice prevents the E.coli bacteria from adhere to the urinary tract lining and has powerful antibacterial properties thus preventing the development of infection.

  • Psyllium husks helps to expel water and waste, stops constipation, protects the colon and aids digestion of nutrients.

  • Pumpkin has diuretic properties that does not irritate the kidneys.

  • Pumpkin seeds good for bladder and urinary problems, increases good cholesterol, nourishes the eyes.

  • Radish (raw) especially daikon speeds up the metabolism, increases removal of waste and protects against high blood pressure and heart disease.

  • Rye bread, crackers, flour and flakes aids digestion, is high in fibre and acts as a diuretic.

  • Strawberries are a traditional diuretic that can thin the blood, improve blood flow  and does not cause intestinal bleeding like aspirin.

  • Tea: Four cups a day acts as a natural diuretic.

  • Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C that aid the metabolism and release of water from the kidney to flush out waste.

  • Turmeric: Half a teaspoon in  warm water or sauces or on meals everyday - lowers blood pressure and purifies and thins the blood.

  • Uva Ursi is a natural diuretic that strengthens the urinary system and eliminates excess fluids.

  • Watercress is a natural diuretic.

  • Watermelon seeds help the body eliminate excess water.

Naturally diuretic herbs

 

Medicinal herbs that can help to protect and support the urinary system  

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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