Kidney stones are properly known as nephrolothiasis, renal calculi or urolithiasis. They are solid thingies comprising minerals and salts that amass inside your kidneys. They might be the product of dehydration, diet, excess body weight, certain medical conditions or some drugs, including calcium-based antacids, anti-seizure medications and diuretics. They have plagued humanity since forever, even being found in Egyptian mummies.

This is a kidney stone. Photo: dfaulder

This is a kidney stone. Photo: dfaulder

Kidney stones can be most painful but usually cause no permanent damage. You might need nothing more than painkillers and plenty of water to get rid of them. On the other hand, some situations call for surgery, for example a stone becoming stuck in a urinary tract. The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases found that one in 10 people will have kidney stones at some point in their lives. Men suffer thrice as much as wimmen. If you have them once, you’re more likely to have them again. You’ll pee out small stones, but bigger ones might get stuck. Around 15% of kidney stones call for the assistance of a doctor.

Kidney stones form due to an abundance of specific crystal-forming substances, such as calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate or uric acid, that urine doesn’t dilute. Alternatively, urine might not contain enough substances that prevent crystals from collecting. Telltale symptoms include extreme pain in the back, groin, ribs or lower abdomen, peeing all-too-often or with pain or an odour, cloudy brown, pink or red-coloured urine and nausea. The pain can be so severe you’re unable to stand up straight. You might have a family history of kidney stones.

An article in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in 2009 stated that cannabis was good for kidney stones based on experiments with mice. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the secondmost common ingredient of cannabis and benefits health in many ways without getting you stoned. Treating kidney stones is one more medical benefit. CBD works because it’s anti-microbial, preventing the aggregation of harmful bacteria inside the kidney. It’s also an effective painkiller and boosts immunity. CBD relaxes muscles, which you’ll appreciate if there’s strain upon the urinary tubes.

If CBD isn’t an option, you could have yourself subjected to lithotripsy, using sound waves to break up kidney stones, which works on stones smaller than half an inch but requires a Röntgen ray so is not suitable for pregnant wimmen. Cranberry juice, lemonade and limeade help, too, because they’re high in citric acid, which prevent crystals from increasing in size or forming at all. Horror of horrors, you could even indulge in exercise: one large study found that walking for a few hours every week can reduce the risk of kidney stones by around a third. You’ll certainly want to avoid dark beers as these contain oxalates, which can turn into kidney stones. Oxalates are also present in beets, bran, chocolate, coffee, cola, nuts, parsley, peanuts, rhubarb, strawberries, spinach and tea, so best keep these to a minimum as well.

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