Stoned on Excessive Oxalates

oxalate problem

Here I am working hard to get healthy and learn that some foods I’ve been eating may have actually been more detrimental than helpful. This epiphany has evolved over time, but it’s hard to realize that you’ve sabotaged yourself and left your body “stoned”.

kidney stoneIn the medical world, the word oxalates brings in the nephrologists and explanations about how these stones or crystals are formed in the kidneys and cause severe pain and problems for patients. Many women have reported that passing a kidney stone is worse than childbirth. What happens when a stone forms somewhere else in the body? Many doctors haven’t considered the possibility…but I have.

Almost a year ago, almost like a divine message, my meditation and reflection produced the word “oxalate”. I had no idea what it meant or how it applied to me. I looked up the word and did a little probing, but that was about it. This was at least a year or so ago. Lately that word came back to me and has literally haunted me until I caved in and learned more. What I found surprised me, but I’m so glad I finally learned more.

My research kept turning up clues that oxalates could be behind a lot of my health issues. I had no idea that oxalates could end up anywhere but the kidneys, which is what my initial research revealed. My past health history provided clues that enticed me to learn more. I was dealing with an overgrowth of yeast, I’ve been plagued with a B-6 deficiency throughout my life, and I’d had surgery in the mid 1980’s for what was diagnosed first as herpes but a second opinion labeled it skin cancer. Well, that was a new one…skin cancer in a place where the sun doesn’t shine…go figure. Yes, I had one of my vaginal “lips” removed, a partial vulvectomy to remove a white plaque growth that burned, itched and tormented me whenever I had sex. I was married and had one child and wanted to have another baby but that was going to be impossible with the pain associated with procreation. I did what I had to do (at the time) succumb to a surgery I now realize wasn’t necessary. If I’d known then what I know now….oh well, I hope I’ve helped someone else avoid walking a mile in my shoes.

hearts in heart shapeSo I kept going with my research. I want to get well and I want others to find health and happiness too. So I continued my digging and finding out more. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered this. My latest finds have implicated oxalates in the heart and my jaw hit the ground when I heard how oxalates can interfere with nerve impulses and be related to the heart rhythm. I know you probably won’t believe me, so I’ve earmarked the video clip to start at the right part of the interview, so you can hear it for yourself. Dr. William Shaw, President of Great Lakes Laboratory explains how oxalates can interfere with the heart’s rhythm. See I wasn’t whistling Dixie.

Whoosh….there I go…down another rabbit hole. I love to learn new things and to discover a possible explanation for my idiopathic heart condition is more than I can stand. So I sat. My queries brought up much more information than the last time I dug around for more information about oxalates. I found more which I will share throughout this post, but first I have to share this photo with you, the one that got my attention…REAL fast. Check out those oxalate crystals in the heart which are like shards of glass.

Oxalate crystals in heart muscles (photo from Weston A. Price – The Role of Oxalates in Autism and Chronic Disorders)

oxylate in heart muscle

Oxalates are not only found in the kidney (about 80% of kidney stones are due to oxalates) and heart, but in tissues all over the body. These oxalates come from the diet which can be controlled by limiting or eliminating high oxalate foods from the diet. Once you eat them, most people can eliminate them from the body without any problem, but some genetic variance can limit the body’s ability to detox and oxalates could cause issues for perhaps twenty percent of the population.

Oxalic acid in the diet is first converted to glycolate, then glyoxylate, and then at this point glyoxylate can either bind to a mineral to form oxalate or it can be transferred and form glycine.

If you have a genetic deficiency in the enzyme AGXT, the glyoxylate primarily forms oxalate because reduced amounts of AGXT do not function adequately to override this process. One in five people in the population has this genetic variant in which they cannot detoxify this compound. Instead it predominantly forms oxalate.

It has been found that one third of the people with oxalate toxicity have this genetic variant, and 53 percent of them are likely to have acute, very severe neurotoxicity versus only 4 percent in those with normal genotype expression. – Weston A. Price, The Role of Oxalates in Autism and Chronic Disorders

oxalate metabolismThe body’s usual way of removing the oxalates from the body is with calcium binding to the oxalates and passing them through either the urine or the bowel. Being well hydrated is an important key to providing a smooth exit for these crystalline cysts or “stones” out of our body. Dehydration causes the urine to be more concentrated and give rise to more stone formation. Rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 your weight (in ounces) as your body weight. If you weigh 150 lbs. your daily water intake should be 75 ounces of clean, filtered water. I use a steam distillation system to clean out the toxins in my water. We have very hard water with lots of calcium (not the good kind). We also acquired a natural gas disposal well as a neighbor since we bought our property. Who knows what they are dumping into the ground acroos the road and next door (there are two disposal wells) that could ultimate end up in our well water?

How do you know if you have excessive oxalates?

There are several other symptoms that should raise red flags for possible issues with to many oxalates. Candida overgrowth, or other mold and/or fungi issues in a patient should make you think about oxalates. A deficiency in B-6 is another red flag to check oxalates. If a patient has both, it would be crazy not to consider testing for oxalates. Patients with any chronic disease that has not been resolved could potentially be dealing with oxalate issues. Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and any other chronic, idiopathic diseases at least deserves to have a look. Did you know that all the autistic patients have excessive oxalates in their body?

The oxalates bind with calcium to leave the body without causing to much harm. When calcium isn’t available, then magnesium is often used, or zinc. However, if the person has a problem metabolizing fats in their diet, or has high cholesterol, low Vitamin D, gallbladder removal, or any other health condition that impairs digesting fats, then there’s a problem. You see the calcium will bind with the fats before worrying about binding with the oxalates. If the calcium isn’t available then the others, magnesium or zinc will be substituted. But…

When there are deficiencies of any of these minerals or the body has a problem detoxifying from heavy metals, such as copper, mercury, aluminum, cadmium, lead or iron, then the oxalate binds with the heavy metals and buries them deep in the tissues, where they can destroy from within like a stealth bomber. These babies (oxalates) are crystals that are sharp as shards of glass and can slice and dice the insides or interfere with the body’s normal functions.

How can you tell whether you have a problem, well there’s a test for that. But as mentioned earlier, there are red flags your body tries to raise, they are called symptoms. I’ve included some information from the video and earmarked it for you regarding the tests for high oxlyates and co-factors of high oxalates. Note the various ailments that could actually be oxalate issues.

What Now?

avoid high oxalate foods chartSo now you’ve found out the how, why and gotten tested, excessive oxalates, what now? I’m starting out SLOWLY by eliminating some of the highest oxalate foods from my diet. I’m not rushing in to completely eradicate all oxalates from my dinner plate. This could be a disaster for some people and is HIGHLY recommended that you take it slow. You see as the oxalates come out of hiding in the deep tissues of your body, coaxed out with supplements of calcium and magnesium, they heavy metals again become free in the bloodstream where they are toxic and must be eliminated too. Often there is what is commonly referred to as “dumping” going on and it’s usually not pleasant. Side effects can range from mild, like you have a touch of the flu, to severe enough to send a person to the ER, which may be the last place you want to be since not to many medical professionals are familiar with oxalates, yet.

Personally, I do an infrared sauna at the local health spa, once a week to detox from the heavy metals as they become unbound. I chose to go slowly and only do the sauna weekly and drink lots of water before and after the sauna. Twice a week I do yoga classes and keep hydrated. Hydration and physical activity to keep the lymphatic system working effectively to eliminate the toxins.

I see an integrative cardiologist for my heart health issues, a biochemist who is helping me to address my biochemical issues and get me on the right path for healing, an acupuncturist/naturopath, and a chiropractor. But more than anything or anyone, I listen to my body tell me what it wants. I’ve learned from a very early age my body is different than everyone else’s and if I pay attention, my body will give me clues…some call them symptoms…of what is wrong, what works and what doesn’t. Listen to YOUR body and go slow.

Before you start blazing new trails with a new diet or regimes in your health care arsenal, take a minute to consider this, who should consider a low oxalate diet? I’ve provided a link for you to read and become more familiar with it from someone else’s perspective. I’m not sure if this webinar is going to cover the Low Oxalate Diet, but hey it’s worth mentioning as an FYI – May 11, 2017 – free webinar “Biomedical Diets – Which Ones and Why”  and other webinars available in the library at Great Plains Laboratory’s website.

Want some recipes?

Sausage cabbageI was doing my research on the Low Oxalate Diet and had the ingredients in my frig, so I cooked the Sausage, Cabbage and Apple Skillet (under the tab MAIN DISHES) last night and it was very good. I used organic apple juice (the cloudy kind not the clear) instead of apple cider and red (or purple) cabbage instead of green. I used what I had on hand and needed to use up. I do like the color the purple color it provides to the dish. I love to cook a rainbow of color in my dishes.

I also found a Pintrest board with Low Oxalate Diet ideas. There are some more recipes here, including my Sausage, Cabbage and Apple Skillet.