Lime juice can wash your kidney stones away, JAKARTA POST
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An apple a day keeps the doctor away, or so goes an old adage. But if you have kidney stones, drink lime juice instead.
Kidney stones are a serious problem, especially for men. ``When a man suffers from kidney stones, he will experience a burning sensation when urinating and an increased frequency of urination,'' said Sutarman, a 55-year-old retired teacher in Purworejo who has had a kidney stone for seven years.
To cope with the problem, he has to undergo monthly medical checkups at Sardjito Hospital while waiting for the right time to surgically remove the stone.
According to the head of the hospital's renal unit, Much. Syahbani, surgery is the best way to deal with kidney stones when the problem becomes acute. Such treatment, however, does not guarantee 100 percent recovery.
``In the early stage, the disease can be cured easily and cheaply by drinking lime (Citrus aurantifolia) juice,'' the expert said.
About 80 percent of kidney stone disease, he said, result from calcium accumulation in the kidneys and surgery does not guarantee total recovery. He warns that a relapse worsened by complications could lead to kidney failure. So far, there is no medical treatment to cure kidney failure, except a kidney transplant.
``Without a kidney transplant, a kidney failure patient has to undergo dialysis to prolong his or her life, which does not cure the disease,'' Syahbani said.
Kidney failure is fatal, he added.
So, how can lime juice help ease the suffering of someone with kidney stones?
The professor at Yogyakarta's Gajah Mada University School of Medicine explained that the formation of kidney stones containing calcium could be attributed to a low content of citrate in urine resulting from a lack of citrate absorption. Such a condition brings about a metabolism defect.
``Citrate works to avoid the formation of calcium crystals that can develop into a kidney stone,'' said the expert, who first presented his research on the use of lime juice to avoid kidney stone disease in July.
To date, kidney stones are surgically removed or are shattered into small pieces with a laser and discharged through the urine. Most patients prefer laser treatment to surgery, he said.
In order to avoid a relapse, patients are usually advised to take two potassium citrate capsules a day. However, some patients may not be able to afford the capsules since they are quite expensive, he said.
``The result of my research shows potassium and citrate can be obtained from Citrus aurantifolia juice,'' he said, adding that drinking lime juice regularly could help increase the citrate content in urine.
The juice of one kilo of limes contains about 55.6 grams of citrate. Other kinds of citrus fruits have lower citrate content. Lemons, for instance, contain 48.6 grams of citrate per kilo, oranges 39.6 grams per kilo and tangerines only 5.4 gram per kilo.
The juice of two limes that have a diameter of 4.5 cm each can be mixed with two glasses of water.
Two glasses of juice are enough for 17 patients. ``Each patient should be given two tablespoons of juice daily after dinner for 10 days,'' Syahbani said.
Regular consumption of lime juice can raise pH, citrate and potassium content along with the urine volume without increasing calcium content. As citrate content exceeds calcium, there will be no more calcium crystallization as calcium is discharged through the urine. In the end, this therapy can effectively prevent the recurrence of kidney stones.
The result of lime juice therapy is the same as consuming two potassium citrate capsules a day, he said.
``But the lime juice is cheaper,'' Syahbani said. The price of one potassium citrate capsule, he said, is Rp 4,000, or the same as one kilo of limes.
``Patients undergoing lime juice therapy do not necessarily have to avoid calcium consumption, but they should continue taking the juice to increase citrate content in the urine,'' the expert said.
The therapy, he said, is safe for those with gastric problems as the juice is consumed after dinner. He further advises patients to drink at least two liters of water a day, avoid salty food, emping (Gnetum gnemon) crackers, spinach, soft drinks and coffee.