Dear Dr. Aiken:
I'd like to inform you that I took half a teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in a cup of water, twice per day and a stone in my left kidney, the size of a red pea, was dissolved without a trace in one week.
The logic being that the soda ash reduced the PH level, alkali vs. acid war, thus the uric acid stone lost the battle.
- Clement Gooden
I am happy to hear that you were successful in dissolving your uric acid stone in such an expeditious manner. Uric acid stones are formed in acidic conditions and /or when there is excess uric acid being produced by the body. A hint that a stone is formed of pure uric acid is when it is seen on ultrasound examination but not by plain X-rays.
This is because uric acid stones are radiolucent, that is, they do not cast an image on plain X-rays. Alkalinising the urine is an effective way of dissolving pure uric acid stones but it is important to do this under medical supervision as problems may arise when the body's finely tuned mechanisms for preserving pH are overwhelmed by excessive intake of alkali.
Potassium citrate is the medication commonly prescribed by doctors to alkalinise the urine to achieve stone dissolution. A lot of lemonade, which is also rich in both potassium and citrate, may be successfully utilised by patients to achieve the same end.
Excess protein and alcohol
Lemons also keep your system alkaline and are useful in dissolving some kidney stones.
In addition, it's important to address the underlying factors which produced the stone. The most common culprit is dietary excess of protein and alcohol. If blood levels of uric acid are high, in addition to dietary manipulation, medication called allopurinol may be prescribed to help decrease blood uric acid levels to withinnormal limits.
You should maintain a high fluid intake and decrease your alcohol and protein intake to prevent a recurrence of uric acid stones.
Dr. William Aiken is the head of urology at the University Hospital of the West Indies and immediate past president of the Jamaica Urological Society; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.