Curcumin is one of the most interesting compounds that nature has made available to treat body in a natural way. It is an active ingredient contained in the root of turmeric, which can be assimilated by eating from the root itself (which is commercially available as dried powder), and by drinking an infusion, in which the curcumin is dissolved in water.
Among the beneficial effects of turmeric there would also be the ability to improve the situations of kidney stones. If stones appear in the kidneys or urinary tract, this compound can contribute to their dissolution or otherwise, it can ensure that they do not increase, thus avoiding surgery.
How do kidney stones form?
Kidney stones have mineral internal structures and they are very similar to rocks. They have different composition: the most common ones are the struvite oxalate and urate stones. The main difference between the various types of stones is based on their chemical composition: struvite consists mainly of phosphorus, magnesium, and ammonium while oxalate is composed mainly of calcium and oxalic acid. The crystals of calcium oxalate are most frequent in humans and are the ones on which curcumin is capable of acting.
Crystals begin to form when in the ultrafiltrate, the liquid precursor of urine, or urine itself, it forms the so-called calcified nucleus, which usually consists of cellular detritus from walls of the organs.
In the presence of an inflammation, some cells are detached and aggregate, forming a nucleus on which the minerals begin to deposit.
The urinary concentrations of stones’ components, such as calcium, and the presence of a specific degree of acidity (which varies in accordance with the type of stone), encourage the deposition of minerals, normally dissolved, on the calcified nucleus. The presence of a stone creates a barrier that slow the urine flows causing, by extension, the increase in its size.
Struvite stones are easy to eliminate with an appropriate nutrition, while oxalate stones may require more complex treatment if they exceed a certain size, and require surgery.
How does turmeric work on kidney stones?
Curcumin is indicated for the treatment of oxalate stones. It properly does not work on the stone already formed but on the smaller ones to prevent them from deposit on the main one, thus increasing the size. Persons who have previously suffered from kidney stones can then take curcumin with preventive function.
This is a particularly responsive compound, able to interact with a wide variety of molecules. One of them is the oxalic acid, a component of the oxalate stones that, together with calcium, forms the urolith. The fact that curcumin can bind to this molecule ensure a different compound, unable to deposit on the stone, which is excreted in the urine.
Curcumin’s antioxidant effects allow to act even at the source of the problem: the calcified nucleus which is the basis for kidney stone formation, that usually arises from an inflammation and a resulting formation of cellular detritus. Acting directly on the desquamation, therefore, it is possible to avoid mineral deposit, disfavoring the growth of stones. In a scientific study carried out on laboratory animals in which kidney stones had been experimentally induced, there was a reduction of about 60% of renal tubular damage, which supports the formation of kidney stones, attributable to the intake of curcumin.
It should of course be noted that curcumin has been shown to be effective for preventive purposes only for renal oxalate stones and for therapeutic purposes only as regards the limitation of their growth. On the other hand, there is no scientific evidence to prove a beneficial effect on the reduction of kidney stones, which is currently impossible to obtain even pharmacologically. A kidney stone already formed, which causes pain and other symptoms, requires a prompt surgical removal, to prevent the aggravation of the clinical status of the patient.