Abstracted by Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, December 26, 2011, from “Inhibitory effect of rutin and curcumin on experimentally-induced calcium oxalate urolithiasis in rats” in Pharmacognosy Research. Posted February 20, 2012.
Kidney stones are an extremely painful disorder that result in more than 3 million visits to health care providers and more than 500,000 emergency room visits each year. Characterized by the formation of a hard mass made of crystals in the urinary tract, kidney stones occur when normal chemicals in urine fail to prevent crystals from forming, resulting in “stones” that can usually pass through the kidneys without any problems. But larger crystals may also form that can make it extremely painful to the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder called the ureters (1).
Treatments for kidney stones range from drinking several quarts of water to help the stone pass out of the body to a shockwave therapy called lithotripsy to surgery (1). Now a new study in rats (2) offers a possible new approach in the form of two plant antioxidants called rutin(3)and curcumin(4).
In the study, researchers used 6 male rats as a control group (Group 1) and then induced kidney stones in 18 additional rats by a method of injection used in previous research (3). After the injection, the 18 stone-induced rats were divided into three different groups, in addition to the control group (Group 1). Group 2 received a placebo supplement injection and Groups 3 and 4 received an injection of rutin (20 milligram per kilogram of body weight) and curcumin (60 mg/kg/bw) for 28 days. No explanation was given by the researchers as to why Groups 3 and 4 were put into separate groups even though they received the same treatment.
Before and after the study, researchers obtained urine samples to measure for calcium (1 of the most common components of kidney stones) as well as obtained kidney samples to assess kidney health.
The researchers found a significant benefit of rutin/curcumin supplementation on calcium and oxalate levels in the urine. Specifically, Groups 3 and 4 (stone-induced with rutin/curcumin supplementation) had 59% (0.35 vs. 0.86 milligrams in urine every 24 hours) and 77% (0.20 vs. 0.86 mg/24 hours) lower levels of calcium than Group 2 (stone-induced with no supplementation) compared to 105% (0.35 vs. 0.17 mg/24 hours) and 17% (0.20 vs. 0.17 mg/24 hours) higher levels than the control group, indicating an ability of rutin and curcumin to keep calcium at near-normal levels.
The same effect on calcium levels was also seen in the kidneys themselves. Specifically, Groups 3 and 4 (stone-induced with rutin/curcumin supplementation) had 34% (0.18 vs. 0.27 milligrams in urine every 24 hours) and 41% (0.16 vs. 0.27 mg/24 hours) lower levels of calcium than Group 2 (stone-induced with no supplementation) compared to being only 20% (0.18 vs. 0.15 mg/24 hours) and 6% (0.16 vs. 0.15 mg/24 hours) higher than the control group, again showing rutin and curcumin to keep calcium to near-normal levels.
However, when the researchers looked at the physical state of the kidneys after the study, the level of physical kidney damage was similar between Groups 2,3, and 4 compared to the control group, indicating that rutin and curcumin did not reverse the kidney damage caused by the stone-induced injection and may serve a greater benefit in kidney stone prevention.
For the researchers, “the present study provides evidence that…rutin and curcumin inhibit the development but failed to reverse the changes caused by [kidney stones]” and that “rutin and curcumin may be effective to prevent [kidney stones] than its treatment.”
- “Kidney Stones in Adults” – http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/stonesadults/
- Ghodasara J. Inhibitory effect of rutin and curcumin on experimentally-induced calcium oxalate urolithiasis in rats. Pharmacognosy Res 2010 Nov;2(6):388-92.
- “Rutin” – http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/rutin.php
- “Curcumin” – http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/curcumin.php
- Divakar K. . Epub 2010 Jan 15. Protective effect of the hydro-alcoholic extract of Rubia cordifolia roots against ethylene glycol induced urolithiasis in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2010 Apr;48(4):1013-8.