Potassium and Couch Grass Reduce Kidney Stones
The researchers tested 50 patients with active kidney stones (nephrolithiasis) for five months. They gave the patients a combination of a special diet consisting of reduced animal protein, reduced consumption of oxalate foods, and moderate calcium intake with at least two liters a day of fluids. In addition to the diet, one group was given 24 mEq of potassium citrate and 100 milligrams of dried couch grass (Agropyrum repens) extract each day.
The research comes from the hemodialysis unit of the Ospedale S. Donato Hospital in Arezzo, Italy.
At the end of the five months, the group that took the potassium and couch grass had significantly fewer kidney stones, and reduced kidney stone size compared to the patients who were not given the potassium and couch grass extract.
One of the most significant improvements of the potassium/couch grass group over the other group was the measurement of oxalate acid excreted over 24 hours. Both had a noticeable reduction in oxalate acid excreted due to their diet, but the potassium/couch grass group had greater reduction of oxalate acid excretion, measured at -165 versus -38 milligrams over a 24 hour period.
Potassium supplementation has been documented in other clinical settings to help reduce the size and number of kidney stones. In a 2006 study from Istanbul’s Memorial hospital, 52 of 96 children were given oral potassium citrate for a year. The remaining 44 children were not given the potassium. The children receiving the potassium had more than 75% fewer kidney stones compared to the untreated group.
Maintaining a mineral balance between calcium, sodium and potassium is critical, and imbalances combined with a poor diet and a diet heavy in animal proteins has been attributed to increased uric and oxalic acid levels and subsequent kidney and gall stones. In addition, a chronic state of dehydration can contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
High oxalate foods include spinach, rhubarb and wheat bran.
The Italian researchers designed the kidney stone reduction diet around these observations. Adding potassium citrate and couch grass to these dietary strategies was successful in decreasing the size and number of stones.
Couch grass has been used for centuries as a traditional medicine for the treatment of urinary disorders and water retention issues. Dogs instinctively understand the benefit of couch grass as they will often eat it and even dig up its roots when they are not feeling well. Cats will also munch on couch grass when they are not feeling well.
The researchers concluded: “This prospective randomized study demonstrates the superiority of the association of potassium citrate and dry extract of couch grass.”
Written by Case Adams, Naturopath
Brardi S, Imperiali P, Cevenini G, Verdacchi T, Ponchietti R. Effects of the association of potassium citrate and agropyrum repens in renal stone treatment: results of a prospective randomized comparison with potassium citrate. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2012 Jun;84(2):61-7.
Sarica K, Erturhan S, Yurtseven C, Yagci F. Effect of potassium citrate therapy on stone recurrence and regrowth after extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy in children. J Endourol. 2006 Nov;20(11):875-9.