Bladder stones and waterleaf
Once had a colleague at work complaining of lower abdominal pain that gets stronger whenever he tries to pass urine. After being advised by friends and families and when the pain became unbearable, he decided to seek medical help. A couple of tests were conducted and was eventually diagnosed with a bladder stone.
Bladder stone is an abnormality I have heard and read about in my high school biology. However, that was the first time I will witness someone coming down with the abnormality. Bladder stones are crystallized minerals that form hard masses in the bladder. Sometimes, these stones may not pose any problem and someone who has them may not even be aware or experience any related symptoms. In some cases, however, especially when the stones block the normal flow of urine or cause bladder irritation, certain symptoms may be manifested just like the lower abdominal pain that my colleague felt.
After the diagnosis, my colleague was placed on certain drugs and advised to be taken adequate volume of water every day. He was told to come back after some weeks for reassessments. He was told to take adequate water in hope that the pressure of urine that collects in the bladder as a result of taking water may flush the stones out during the process of passing urine.
He returned to the hospital a couple of weeks after without any amelioration to his condition. At this point, the physician informed him that he will have to undergo surgical procedures to remove the stones. He was prepped for surgery and the stones were removed accordingly. Before the surgery was done, however, the doctors used the last trick up their sleeves to get rid of the stone. According to my colleague, a small tube with a small camera attachment at the end was first inserted into his urethra. The aim was to break the stones into pieces and flush them out through the urethra. Surgery was only done when the procedure did not yield the desired result.
After the surgery, he was given a couple of lifestyle advice:
- To drink adequate water daily
- Avoid consuming excessive vitamin C
- Avoid consuming water leaves
It was the water leaf part that got to me. What could water leaf consumption and bladder stone have in common? For those that may not know, water leaf refers to a plant scientifically known as Talinum triangulare. It is a herbaceous perennial plant found commonly growing in West Africa and some other parts of the world. This is a plant that has been analyzed in the laboratory and found to be rich in essential nutrients and recommended for human consumption. So, how come it is being linked with bladder stones?
We are in the rainy season around here and the season is usually characterized by the blossoming of the waterleaf plant. The leaves of the plant are used in preparing different soup delicacies depending on the locality. Because this plant is found growing virtually everywhere during the rainy season, it comes very cheaply even in the market for those that cannot go into the bush to harvest. Why is something so cheap and yet so nutritious can be cantankerous to one's health?
It was later I got to understand fully. Waterleaf is rich in vitamin C and vitamin C happens to be one of the substances that my colleague was advised to minimize in consumption. According to analyses, urinary stones could be struvite, calcium oxalate, urate, cystine, silica-based, or a combination of any of the listed. Oxalate, particularly, results from ingested vitamin C and is excreted via urine. Thus, consuming too much vitamin C increases one's chances of having a lot of oxalate in the urine and this will in turn increase the likelihood of coming down with stones.
Should we then stop consuming waterleaf totally? The answer is no. Since the body still requires vitamin C to function effectively, stopping the consumption of vitamin C in order to avoid stones will lead to vitamin C deficiencies and we all know what that means. The solution is to be moderate in its consumption. That waterleaf comes very cheaply does not mean that it should be overconsumed. Bladder stones are not something to joke with.
By the way, that colleague being referred to in this post is here on hive by the username, @olayiwola.
What do you think?