The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Treating kidney stones with Ayurvedic Herbmed

    Herbmed is an ayurvedic medicine that contains Varuna (Crataeva nurvala) and banana stem (Musa paradisiaca).

    Researchers from AMAI Trust Multispecialty Hospital in Pune, India report the results of preliminary research in treating kidney stones.

    First, some background.

    • Varuna is a plant, and the bark or root bark are the source of the medicine. It has anti-inflammatory properties and is reportedly used to dissolve urinary calculi, although I couldn’t find other studies in people.
    • Musa paradisiacal is commonly known as the banana plant, and best known as a source of potassium.

    Now, the details.

    • 77 patients with kidney stones 5 mm or larger in diameter were randomly assigned to treatment.
      • Group A: Patients with calculi 5 to 10 mm
      • Group B: Patients with calculi greater than 10 mm
    • Each group was then assigned to treatment with Herbmed or placebo.
    • Patients recorded the of number of pain episodes.
    • Severity of pain was measured on visual analogue scale (VAS).
    • Neither patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double-blind.

    And, the results.

    • Treatment with Hebmed in the group with smaller stones was associated with a 33% reduction in the size of the stones vs a 5% increase with placebo — a significant difference.
    • In the group with the larger kidney stones, there was an 11% reduction with treatment vs a 1% reduction with placebo.
    • Pain was significantly less with treatment vs placebo at all times.

    The bottom line?
    The authors characterized the results as preliminary but positive, with regard to reducing the size of the stones and associated pain.

    Future studies might evaluate differences in the percent of patients who pass their kidney stones over time, and safety considerations — particularly during long-term treatment.

    A good overview of kidney stones and treatment options can be found at The Kidney Stone Web Site.

    12/2/08 19:52 JR

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