The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends and endorses acupuncture for the treatment of renal colic and kidney stones. The incidence of kidney stones is about 80 % higher in men than women and the pain experienced with renal colic is regarded as being even worse than child birth and gunshot wounds. The pain can extend from the back and go around the front to the groin.
When the stones are passed, it may be accompanied with blood clots and pieces of stone.
How are kidney stones diagnosed in western medicine?
The stones themselves are mainly composed of calcium and acid salts. Modern medical treatment diagnoses the condition using urine analysis, blood tests and ultra sound.
Pharmaceutical drugs or acupuncture for kidney stones?
Modern medicine uses NSAIDS and opiates for pain control while waiting to pass the stones. The World Health Organization says that acupuncture has advantages over the prescription of western pharmaceutical medications because the acupuncture provides a better analgesic effect and in a shorter time.
What causes kidney stones according to traditional Chinese medicine theory?
From a traditional Chinese medical diagnostic perspective, there are a few patterns of disharmony that are addressed in the treatment of renal colic with acupuncture.
One is a condition that is called “damp and heat” in Chinese medicine. This can be thought of as literally like a low grade heat like a swamp just sitting in the lower part of the body. For example, a blockage such as this, can come about as result from irregular diet causing impurities to accumulate and which then sink down to the low part of the intestines. Like in a real swamp, steam raises up and in this case some of the steam from the damp heat goes into the urethra and then settles into the kidneys which according to traditional Chinese medicine is believed to a factor contributing to the formation of kidney stones. There are specific acupuncture points that have the function of clearing damp and heat.
In Chinese medicine, there is a saying, “Where there is pain, there is blockage”.
The acupuncture meridians traverse all areas of the body and the areas where people experience renal colic pain is no exception. Depending where the pain is most extreme, will determine which points are selected. The points chosen may not actually be near the pain itself but on the meridian connected to the area of pain such as on the leg.
If it is known that the stones are in the bladder already, acupuncture points on the bladder meridian on the outside of the leg may be selected.
Can Chinese herbs be used in the treatment of renal colic?
Chinese herbs may also be useful in the treatment of preventing kidney stones. In the book, Diseases of the Kidney and Bladder: Diagnosis and Treatment with TCM by Li and Frierman, there are many references Chinese herbs being used to treat many aspects of kidney problems including such symptoms as nocturia.
The Sun Ten range of Chinese herbs have been imported into New Zealand by Metagenics and have all been approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA).