Herbal medicine and alternative healing have made a big comeback in recent years and are continuing to rise in popularity as a primary choice for health maintenance and medical treatment. They have certain advantages as they are the "natural" choice, which means that they are presumably more easily absorbed and used by the body. They can be used as supplementary measures accompanying treatment or as the major treatment method itself.
One of the most talked about herbal treatments at the moment is extracts from a plant called the gold coin grass. It has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and is called as Jin Qian Cao, which in English translates to gold coin grass. It is also known by several other names such as coin herb and coin weed. This refers to several herbs whose leaves look like of gold coins, hence the name. Also, it has been said that the name is attributed to its healing properties being as valuable as gold. The species included in this group include: Lysimachia christinae, Desmodium styracifolium and Glechoma hederaea. The most commonly found plant in the western part of the world is Desmodium styracifolium, but its origins are from Asia. Physically, this shrub can grow until about one meter high, grows small purple flowers that bloom during summer, and as was previously mentioned, has oval shaped leaves that resemble gold coins. Its distinguishing property is its ability to convert nitrogen from surrounding air into ammonia, a natural fertilizer.
In old Eastern medicine, coin herb or coin weed is used for various purposes: to lower down high temperatures during fever, to make urination easier and more frequent, and for treatment of venereal diseases such as gonorrhea.
For modern herbal medicine on the other hand, gold coin grass is used in the treatment of gallstones and kidney stones. In tincture form, this herb has been seen to be effective in alleviating gall bladder pain within a few days of proper use. The prolonged use of products infused with its extracts can help to reduce the size of stones by slowly softening and crushing them which could possibly result in them more easily passed out of the body with urine. This is greatly beneficial as it can minimize the need for surgical removal of the stones.
The formation of gallbladder stones is largely dependent upon the diet of a person. They form into little hardened stone-like clusters of calcium, salts, cholesterol, and in some cases, bile. The formation of these stones causes severe pain and trauma to internal tissues. There are cases in which the stones have grown to be so big that they occlude openings and block the tubal passageways within the body. These blockages result to even more serious and complicated health problems.
Kidney stones, also called renal calculi (singular is calculus), are formed when the urine is so concentrated that it starts to crystallize. This accounts for the hard mineral and salt particles that make up a kidney stone. The treatment for this is most often surgery. If the stones are small enough, they could be passed out of the body during urination. The stones could cause trauma and bleeding in tissues and mucous membranes within the kidney, passage tubes, and the urinary bladder. This results to red or pink tinged urine and mild to severe pain.
The effect of gold coin grass have been seen in and documented in a study that was eventually published in the British Journal of Urology in 1993. It was seen to have a reducing effect on the size of both gallbladder and kidney stones. As treatment, this special herb can be taken in different forms: powdered, in granules, as tea, an herbal tincture, pills, or tablets. In tea form it has a slightly sweet, bitter taste and has a cooling effect. Long term use in any form can prevent the further formation of either kind of stone. The continuous study of its effects and properties has given rise to the following conclusions about its pharmacological action (basically the things that make it effectively work):
- A decoction made from the extracts found in gold coin grass promotes bile secretion. This prevents sediments or little left over bile particles from accumulating and clumping together to form stones.
- It was seen to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which could help fight infections that might arise from the formation of kidney and gallbladder stones. Also, swelling could be effectively kept down, minimizing the eventual signs and symptoms that might arise from it.
There does not appear to be any side effect or any adverse effect as a direct consequence of the use of gold coin grass for treatment, although there have been known cases of allergic reactions. Some patients suffering from kidney stones who take in this herb have reported cases of fever, headaches, nausea, and vomiting but these are most likely caused by the extreme stress of passing stones and not from the use of gold coin grass.
Its natural effect is diuresis, or frequency in urination, which could possibly but not always result to an over excretion of potassium in long term use. This causes vertigo-like signs and symptoms. This potential potassium-wasting occurrence gives rise to its being contraindicated in people suffering from diarrhea, as there is potassium loss from having it as well. The diuretic property would also counter the effects of anti-diuretic medication. The safety of using this as treatment while pregnant or lactating have not been formally documented but is considered as generally safe to use as long as it is confined within the recommended dosages.
The main advantage to using herbal medicine to reduce gallstones and kidney stones is that, surgery could be avoided if the treatment is successful in reducing the size of the stone or stones. This is a good thing, as the multiple complications and risks of surgery will be avoided as well. The use of herbal treatment is easy, painless, and relatively less expensive than conventional medical practices and treatments. Admittedly there are modern medications available that have that specific effects found in gold coin grass but the impact on the liver and kidneys is a lot smaller with the use of this herb than commercially produced medicines and pills that contain a lot of synthetic chemicals. Side effects to the herb use are also close to non-existent and there is no danger of habit forming psychological or physical dependency that would lead to eventual drug abuse or misuse. The downside to herbal medicine use on the other hand, is that dosage instructions are often unclear. There is a risk of obtaining lower quality herbs due to lack of regulation systems governing alternative health. Toxicity and poisoning could be a possible potential issue if the herb is taken in excess or inappropriately.
There are always choices and options open to anybody and everybody. All one has to do is choose carefully. This choice however should come from a well informed mind. Before any major life-changing decision, the use of herbal treatment versus surgery included, it is always imperative to do research. This will help one weigh the pros and cons that should be the determining factors for the final decision. Ultimately, concerns may be discussed with a trusted health professional for a clearer overview of the whole situation and advice can be sought from experts and herbalists to address any issue you might be having. In the end, the choice will still be up to you.