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Oxalates - Sharp, Needle-like Crystals

Do you have unexplained sharp, needle-like pains? It might be Oxalate crystals. Not to be confused with Uric Acid crystals that cause Gout. Not all crystals are Uric acid implicated in Gout, but unfortunately not all crystals are routinely tested for. You may get put on medication well before it's truly investigated.

Oxalate crystals are described as causing 'sharp, needle-like pain' anywhere in the body. Oxalate crystals can lodge and cause muscle pain (fibromyalgia), bone pain, joint pain causing arthritis, vulvar pain, eyes, in blood vessels, lungs, thyroid, and the brain! They can even cause anaemia, and other mineral deficiencies, and can bring on immunosuppression. They can trap heavy metals and cause heavy metal toxicity. Such a lot for a crystal not really investigated well in mainstream medicine.

What are Oxalates and where do they come from?

Oxalic acid is a tiny molecule that is toxic and corrosive. When it combines with other minerals it forms oxalates. For example calcium oxalate is what most Kidney stones are comprised of. Oxalic acid comes from:

  • Plants - they make it possibly as self-defence. Many 'healthy foods' contain it. For example: spinach, almonds, berries, chocolate, potatoes, kiwi fruit, cumin, turmeric and more.

  • Our bodies make it - if we are deficient in Vitamin B6 which may happen if our CBS pathway is running too fast, which is scientific talk that says our body is under severe oxidative stress and we have a strong need to be making Glutathione which is our major antioxidant. Additionally, having poor bile production, and low calcium and magnesium intake, and eating lots of fats, and sugars can cause oxalates. Diet is discussed in detail below.

  • If we take too much Vitamin C supplementation we can make them.

  • Aspergillus and Candida (Yeast) also make it.

  • Certain genes can predispose us to making them.

Symptoms from High Oxalates

Multiple, vaied symptoms of pain as shown in the graphic, and many more!.

Pictorial of the various sources of pain that can occur in the body from oxalate pain
Many and varied symptoms from Oxalates

Why do Oxalates Cause Harm?

Our bodies have no way of disarming oxalates once it's formed and we must move them and excrete it. To move them for excretion is not the same as metabolising it (as we do with other toxins via our liver), and this is where that movement for excretion can cause damage and pain in our bodies. Imagine moving tiny needles throughout your body!

These needles can cause not only pain, but they can perforate cell membranes, so we can end up with kidney damage, leaky gut, lung issues, mind and mood issues, sleep issues, gum issues, bone instability and more. We often don't see these acutely, but they develop chronically and start off as inflammation that we seem to be very accepting of in our modern society.

Additionally, for oxalic acid to form oxalates it must 'steal' minerals from us. This can make us deficient in minerals. As such, oxalates are called 'anti-nutrients'. If we don't get our vitamins and minerals, then we can become anaemic, osteopaenic, etc and all our cellular metabolism and growth work can be disrupted.

Once at the kidneys for excretion, if there are too many we can overwhelm the kidneys and this is where we may form kidney stones. Correct supplementation and assistance is required to minimise this potential.

Link with Oxalates and Autism

Another important link: Do you have children who are non-verbal with behavioural issues, or who lash out at their bodies? Oxalates may be the cause.

Studies show that there are much higher levels of oxalates in autistic children than in non-autistic children. These children may be experiencing terrible pain that they can't communicate to you.

Your body has something to tell you. Let's explore so we can help you.

Our Diet and Sharp, Needle-like Oxalate Crystals

If you're experiencing seemingly mysterious pains in your body, it may be oxalates, and what you eat may very well be causing it as discussed above. There are also inherited genes that may impact on how well we break down oxalates. Additionally, taking a look at your gut microbiome (poop) can provide information on whether you have a good amount of oxalate eating bacteria (or not).

Let's discuss Diet in detail:

  • People consuming lots of healthy (?!) green smoothies are at risk of developing oxalate crystals. You could be consuming 10 times the daily recommended amount of oxalates. Who needs a good excuse not to drink green smoothies?

  • Have you been taking high amounts of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) thinking you are helping your immunity? Very high levels of Ascorbic Acid can be converted to Oxalates.

  • Do you have a high sugar diet? Candida love sugar, and they produce oxalates.

  • Do you live in mouldy conditions? Aspergillus in mouldy conditions can do the same.

  • Do you have smoothies based on almond milk with berries regularly? These are high oxalate dietary sources.

  • Do you have liver or gall bladder issues? If so you may have issues with bile formation and secretion. If you have a high fat diet and possible bile acid deficiency, you may be experiencing diarrhoea. The fat in your diet won't be emulsified and will bind to calcium meaning calcium is unavailable to bind to oxalates for their safe excretion. The consequence - oxalate crystal formation.

  • Do you eat non-organic meat? Meat from grain fed animals (non-organic) is high in Arachidonic Acid (Omega-6) that is associated with increased oxalate problems.

  • Do you have a diet low in magnesium and calcium? Magnesium and calcium bind to oxalate crystals to enable them to be excreted from the body. A diet low in magnesium and calcium means these minerals are diverted to other essentials tasks, with oxalate breakdown not deemed essential. For calcium, this means preferentially being used to keep our hearts pumping. For magnesium, this means spreading itself for the many hundreds of reactions needing magnesium in our body. As a consequence, we may develop oxalate crystals.

  • Healthy taurine and glycine levels are needed for good bile production, so the CBS Pathway needs to be working well, and is often not with oxalate issues.

Like everything in life, and everything we eat, it should be in moderation else we can experience issues. The Goldilocks effect.

Oxalates and Kidney Stones

Have you ever had kidney pain, or have had kidney stones before? This was how oxalates were first found in people, as calcium oxalate kidney stones. Because of this, the mistaken impression was that you should avoid calcium. The opposite is true however. We need calcium to bind and excrete them in urine. Not enough calcium can lead to calcium stone formation. However, the calcium should be balanced with magnesium.

How to test for Oxalates

  • There is also brilliant functional testing kit (Organic Acids Testing) that must be performed to determine if oxalates are the cause of your pain. It can also tell if you have a genetic predisposition to form oxalates, and whether you have candida or mould exposure. An amazing amount of information is provided in this test kit with over 70 markers and various combinations of results that provide so much information. If you are experiencing pain in your body that hasn't resolved, I highly recommend the OATS test before you consider medication. Diets can be adjusted.

  • Aside from the OATS test, you may get an indication of the damage being caused by oxalates if you have a low Homocysteine reading - read my blog on that for more information, that may result in methylation issues.

How to treat Oxalates

  • If you have pain in your joints or body tissues, removing oxalates from your diet should be done slowly, and under the guidance of a qualified naturopath, else you may experience oxalates moving in your body which equates to moving sharp needles throuh your body tissues. This will create not only a lot of pain, but a lot of inflammation which will have further flow on negative effects.

  • Ensure your house is kept free of mould.

  • There are certain supplements and certain probiotics, and a certain procedure you must follow in order to resolve the issue. Speak to a qualified Naturopath.

  • The removal of yeast is important - this means consuming a low sugar diet, and removing simple carbohydrates from your diet as this is the food source of choice for candida.

  • Additionally, you need good amounts of healthy bacteria in your microbiome, and healthy amounts of oxalobacter bacteria to break down oxalates. Microbiome testing will provide that information.

  • Supplementation will often be required, and for this you must see a qualified naturopath to turn this around for you.

  • Increase your water intake to help flush the bound oxalates out.

If you would like to discuss your personal circumstances, get tested for Oxalates, and understand how to incorporate foods, and supplements into your diet to ensure oxalates are treated safely, please make a booking via the button below. I am experienced in performing this.

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