Monday, 2 December 2013

Mangosteen and Kidney Stones - Alkaline Qualities May Help in Neutralizing Stone-Forming Acids

Perhaps one of the most painful conditions that a person can experience is having kidney stones, medically known as renal calculi. If it is only a small stone lodged in the kidneys, the person with this condition may not feel a thing. In fact, most stones pass through the urine without causing any uncomfortable symptoms.

The problem starts when the stones formed are gargantuan in size. Imagine a stone as large as a golf ball inside your kidneys. Symptoms start to appear when it tries to pass in the urine via the ureter. People with large kidney stones often describe this experience as one of worst pains they ever experienced.

In the United States, around 10-15% adults are diagnosed with kidney stones every year. The incidence is slightly higher in the Middle East, with 20-25%, largely attributed to the risk of dehydration because of its hot climate, as well as their diet which is high in oxalate and low in calcium.

Formation of different kinds of kidney stones

Calcium oxalate stones

The most common type of kidney stones is the calcium oxalate stones. It accounts for 80% of all cases of kidney stones. Most causes of calcium oxalate stones can be attributed to urine component imbalances which can either precipitate or halt the formation of kidney stones. Genetic factors, underlying medical conditions, intake of certain drugs, and abnormalities in metabolism, digestion, and absorption also count as other causes.

The amount of calcium and urine in the body can also cause calcium oxalate stones. For example, excessive calcium in the urine or bloodstream or excessive oxalate in the urine can precipitate stone formation. A diet high in oxalate and low in calcium can also have the same effect.

Uric acid stones

Around 5-10% of all kidney stone occurrences are uric acid stones, which are made from purine. People with uric acid stones normally have high uric acid levels in the urine and the bloodstream. Moreover, both urine and uric acid are acidic in nature, thus giving way to the formation of kidney stones.

Other factors that may play a role in the formation of uric acid stones include genetic predispositions, gout, kidney abnormalities, high animal protein diet, drinking alcohol, fasting, lead toxicity, blood diseases, and chronic diarrhea.

Struvite stones

Struvite stones are made up of magnesium, phosphate, and ammonia. The leading cause of struvite stones is urinary tract infections or UTI. The bacteria that cause UTI, usually the Proteus bacteria, secrete enzymes that raise the levels of ammonia in the urine, thus forming struvite stones.

Women are more prone to develop struvite stones than men.

Other stones

Other types of kidney stones include cystine stones, xanthine stones, and calcium phosphate stones. These are usually developed in people with genetic defects and other underlying disease processes. However, they are less common than the calcium oxalate, uric acid, and struvite kidney stones.

Symptoms of kidney stones

The most common symptom of kidney stones is severe pain, described to be colicky in quality. The colicky pain is something that is unique to renal stones, since it starts in the kidney area and spreads toward the flank and the bladder region. It starts in one side and progresses in intensity for a few minutes.

While the size of the stone normally dictates the severity of the pain (i.e. the larger the stone, the more painful it is), this may not always be the case. A small stone with rough edges may be more painful than a large round one.

Aside from pain, there may also be a presence of blood and pus in the urine. The patient may feel a burning sensation during urination, and the urine output may be decreased because of the obstruction in the urine passageway caused by the stone. Moreover, the person may have frequent urges to urinate. Nausea and vomiting can also occur. If there is a concomitant infection, the person may also experience fever and chills.

Treatment of kidney stones

Kidney stones can be diagnosed through radiography, CT scan, or ultrasound. Once the existence of kidney stones has been established, the treatment follows.

Small stones measuring less than 4mm in diameter usually pass in the urine without requiring treatment. However, those that measure around 6mm or more need to be managed accordingly.

Initially, non-invasive methods are utilized. To encourage passage of stones, the physician may prescribe increased fluid intake, several antibiotics for infection, analgesics for pain, and diuretics to prevent further stone formation. Diet may also be limited, since foods high in oxalate should be avoided. If the stones are not passed out using these methods, then that is the time that doctors will consider more aggressive treatment.

Surgery or lithotripsy is indicated for more complicated cases. For stones located in the ureter that are less than a centimetre or half an inch, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) may be used. This involves breaking up the stone using an external, high acoustic pulse.

For stones that are larger than one centimetre, options include ureteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithotomy, and open surgeries.

Mangosteen’s role in preventing kidney stone formation

What makes mangosteen great for people with kidney stones is the fact that the fruit aids in the passage of kidney stones. Mangosteen has a diuretic effect that helps kidney stones pass through the urine. It also helps in preventing the formation of further kidney stones because of its alkaline properties. As mentioned before, uric acid stones thrive in acidic urine. By neutralizing the acidity of the urine, these kidney stones are inhibited from forming.

Moreover, the xanthones found in the mangosteen fruit has an antibacterial effect, so that infection and formation of kidney stones are prevented for people who experience urinary retention because of obstruction in the urine passageway.

The mangosteen is a fruit native in Southeast Asia, so people from this region can directly reap the benefits that this fruit has to offer. However, for those people who live far from this area, there is still a way to enjoy the benefits of mangosteen, and that is through mangosteen supplements. People can opt to take the juice form or the powder form, depending on what is more accessible to them.

However, the powder form is more advisable because it does not contain preservatives like the juice form; therefore it is a more concentrated source of xanthones and other nutrients. Moreover, fruit juices are required to be pasteurized, and when they are subjected to heat, they tend to lost some of their nutritional value. The freeze-dried form does not have to endure that; hence you can be sure that what you are taking in is 100% nutritious and beneficial to your kidneys.


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