Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stones- Why They're Forming
Calcium Oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stone. Roughly 70% of people who form kidney stones form calcium oxalate stones.
Calcium oxalate crystals form when calcium combines with oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is a dead end waste product commonly found in foods that the kidneys remove. It is also classified as an anti-nutrient that inhibits calcium absorption in the human body. Molecularly, oxalic acid contains two carbon atoms ⚫️, four oxygen atoms 🔴, and two hydrogen atoms ⚪️ (see below):
Once introduced into the urine stream, oxalic acid sheds it’s two positively charged hydrogen atoms ⚪️. As a result, the oxalate molecule now carries two negative charges. What this means is that the oxalate molecule is now free to bond with other molecules that carry positive charges. Think of this situation like a magnet, where you get adhesion when a positive and negative surface connect.
Unfortunately for stone formers, calcium molecules in the body carry a positive charge. When the negative charge from an oxalate molecule meets the positive charge from a calcium molecule, calcium oxalate crystals are formed. Fortunately, hydrogen atoms from water molecules in the body are also positively charged and bind with the negative charge of oxalate molecules. This is another reason as to why proper hydration is critical for kidney stone formers. Without it, the body is at an increased risk for calcium and oxalate molecules to bind due to lack of water molecules with their positive hydrogen atoms in the system.
Calcium Oxalate stones can form for many reasons. Some are results of systemic disease such as bowel disease, primary Hyperparathyroidism (causes an increase in blood calcium levels), or primary hyperoxaluria (rare condition that causes recurrent kidney and bladder stones). When it comes to stones caused by systemic disease, only a physician can properly diagnose the underlying condition.
Outside of systemic disease, most people form calcium oxalate stones due to diet, inheritance, and from other aspects of daily living. These people are referred to as idiopathic calcium oxalate stone formers, from the Greek word “idios” meaning “one’s own” and “pathos” meaning “suffering.”
Research suggests that consuming proper hydration combined with a low-oxalate diet can help dramatically impact stone formation. For those that currently have stones, or are in the process of passing a stone, herbal remedies containing Chanca Piedra such as Stone Relief can assist with the dissolving of stones (see studies here) and with pain relief.
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