Detoxification through the kidneys and urinary tract is a natural process you seldom even notice – until something goes wrong. Today, we dive into bladder health and what happens when you get dreaded bladder stones. Let’s look into what bladder stones are, their common symptoms and causes, as well as the difference between kidney stones, ureteral stones, and bladder stones. Finally, to help you through the process of preventing bladder stones, here are some symptom-relieving herbal remedies.
What are bladder stones?
Bladder stones are hard mineral formations that crystallize in the bladder. In other words, they’re made up of mineral build-up in the bladder from incomplete urination. Small stones can pass through while urinating without even noticing; but when they grow large enough, they can block the flow of urine and cause pain and complications.
Do you need a quick refresh on the anatomy of your urinary tract? All of its organs work together in finely tuned collaboration to keep you healthy and thriving. The kidney, two bean-shaped organs sitting below the rib cage work to filter out blood, prevent waste build-up, and keep electrolyte levels stable. Ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder for storage. The bladder, when full, sends a signal to the brain to alert you for a visit to the nearest bathroom. Urine then travels through the urethra for bladder emptying.
Common symptoms of bladder stones
Small bladder stones often go unnoticed and won’t cause any symptoms. Larger stones, on the other hand, are linked to symptoms such as:
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Blood in urine
- Frequent urination
- Burning sensation when urinating
- Cloudy or dark urine
- In men, bladder stones may cause pain in the penis
What causes bladder stones?
Bladder stones are most frequent in men over 50, and may be linked to benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or enlarged prostate. An enlarged prostate can create a blockage which prevents the bladder from emptying completely.
Women who’ve been subject to pelvic floor reconstructive surgery using surgical mesh (tension-free vaginal tape) are at higher risk of developing bladder stones as well, along with other urinary issues.
Kidney stones, ureteral stones, or bladder stones: what’s the difference?
Kidney stones are very common and can be extremely painful to pass. Ureteral stones are kidney stones that have become lodged within one (or – yikes! – both) of the ureters. Bladder stones are formed in the bladder from incomplete bladder emptying, or from kidney stones that have traveled down into the urinary tract and staying in the bladder.
Can you prevent bladder stones?
Bladder stones are usually tied to a preexisting medical condition, so it can be difficult to prevent. That being said, drinking lots of pure water and staying hydrated is a trusted way to nurture the health of your urinary tract, and keep your kidneys and bladder running smoothly.
Keep an eye on your urinary health and act fast when you notice symptoms of imbalance, such as frequent urination, urinary urgency, a feeling of incomplete emptying, burning or pain. When you do suffer from bladder stones, a stone removal procedure is often necessary and performed by a healthcare practitioner.
Herbal remedies that support the overall health of the genitourinary system will help lower risk of bladder stones by maintaining a healthy environment in which symptoms of imbalance are likely to be noticed sooner. Find our top herbal picks below!
Herbal remedies for bladder stone prevention
Herbal urinary tonics are a great addition to your wellness routine. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right herbs and herbal preparations for urinary health and bladder stone prevention. First, it’s often recommended to take herbs in the form of infusions, decoctions, or other forms of herbal tea when dealing with the urinary system – as opposed to capsules and powders. Increased hydration and fluid intake from herbal infusions help flush out the kidneys and keep the urinary tract healthy.
Focus on herbs with mild diuretic properties, like horsetail or dandelion leaf. Corn silk acts to lower inflammation in the urinary tract and soothe an irritated bladder. It can further support decreasing fluid retention and help prevent prostate enlargement in men. Broad-spectrum antimicrobial goldenseal root, which is a natural source of berberine alkaloid, is one of the most beneficial tonics for mucous membranes. It can help tone urinary membranes to enhance their integrity. Another alternative herb with similar effects is barberry.