Pharmacy students in the Philippines may have found an effective and affordable all-natural herbal remedy for painful kidney stones in banana stalks.
Called renal calculi, these hard masses develop from the crystalized substances within the urine. The word calculus (plural: calculi) is Latin for pebble. Stones form in the kidney when minerals in urine are highly concentrated.
Kidney stones are a common cause of blood in the urine and pain in the abdomen, flank or groin. The affliction strikes 1 in 20 people at some time in their life.
Kidney stones tend to show up in people with low fluid intake and acidic urine who eat a lot of protein-rich foods (such as meat and beans), salt (from canned and processed foods), and oxalate (found in spinach, tea, nuts, and cocoa). Calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate are all substances known to contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
Pharmacy students at the San Pedro College in Davao City used drugs to induce kidney stones in laboratory mice. Then, the rodents were fed banana stalks that had been processed into capsule form for 10 days.
The results showed no signs of developing kidney stones in the test mice. Analyses of blood and urine showed healthy kidneys functioning normally.
The researchers believe that the high levels of magnesium and potassium in the banana plant prevent kidney stones from growing in the urinary tract.
Magnesium combines easily with oxalates in the food we consume and interferes with the development of calcium oxalate crystals, one type of kidney stone.
Potassium balances the acidity of the urine. Lower levels of uric acid reduce the chance that calcium oxalate crystals will form.
Using affordable banana stalks to prevent kidney stones is a welcome option to the agony and expense of having full-grown calcifications removed in a surgical operation.
Kidney stone disease (urolithiasis) occurs when a solid piece of material (kidney stone) develops in the urinary tract. As their name suggests, these hardened deposits typically form in the kidney and exit the body in the urine stream. A small stone may pass with no symptoms. Most stones pass spontaneously within 48 hours.
Several factors influence the body’s ability to pass a stone, including the person’s size, prior stone passage, prostate enlargement (in men), pregnancy (in women), and the size of the stone. A 4mm stone has an 80% chance of passage; the odds drop to 20% for a 5mm (0.2in) stone.
A larger kidney stone, 5mm or more, can block the ureter, producing severe pain in the lower back or abdomen. Urine, vomiting, and painful urination are other signs of a kidney stone.
Kidney stones recur within 5 years in 30% to 50% of the people whose bodies fostered the conditions for their formation in the first place. Scientists believe that kidney stones can be attributed both to a genetic predisposition (family history) and environmental influences.
Risk factors for kidney stones include:
- High urine calcium levels
- Certain foods (as noted above)
- Some medications
- Calcium supplements
- Not drinking enough fluids
Kidney stones can be diagnosed by the symptoms they produce. The pain, usually of sudden onset, is often very severe and colicky (intermittent), not improved by changes in position, and radiates from the back, down the flank, and into the groin. Nausea and vomiting are common signs of urinary blockage.
Urine and blood testing also help identify kidney stones. Medical imaging is another technique used to diagnose the medical condition.
Stones are typically classified by their location: nephrolithiasis (in the kidney), ureterolithiasis (in the ureter), cystolithiasis (in the bladder), or by their composition (calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, cystine).
Nephrolithiasis is the consequence of concentrated stone-forming salts such as calcium oxalate, calcium phosphate, or uric acid. The word nephrolithiasis comes from the Greek nephros (meaning kidney) and lithos (stone). Urolithiasis has its roots in the Latin word urina (urine) and the Greek ouron, both of which mean urine.
Urine with mineral levels high enough to produce stones is called supersaturated.
Urolithiasis is the process of forming stones in the kidney, bladder, and/or urethra (urinary tract). Scientists in 1994 found that banana stem extract from the Musaceae family may be a useful agent in the treatment of patients with hyperoxaluric urolithiasis.
The stones form in the part of the kidney that collects urine (termed the pelvis of the kidney) and vary in size from tiny particles to staghorn stones that can grow to be the size of the renal pelvis itself.
For reasons unknown, the number of Americans developing kidney stones is on the rise. The prevalence of kidney stones was 3.8% in the late 1970s. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the rate rose to 5.2%.
Caucasian men in their 40s through 70s are at the highest risk for developing kidney stones and rates go up with age. Women are most likely to contract kidney stones in their 50s.
Eating a diet high in bananas and other antioxidant and anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables can help prevent the formation of painful urinary stones. Avoid spinach, rhubarb, beets, nuts, coffee, black tea, strawberries, and beans. Reduce sodium and sugar intake, both associated with stone formation. Get regular exercise and drink plenty of fluids.