Highlights

A New Beverage with “Blue Pea Flower and Banana Stem Extract” to Reduce the Risk of Urinary Stone Formation — Another Medical Innovation from MED – CU


Drinking too little water each day increases the risk of urinary stones. Recently, the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University has successfully developed a concentrated beverage from blue pea flowers and banana stems to reduce the risk of urinary stones formation.


Urinary tract stone or urinary stone is an old disease found since ancient Egyptian times.  Today it is still common, especially among the population of tropical countries such as Thailand.   A survey shows that this disease is found in approximately 16-17 percent of the population, most of whom are residents of the Northeast and the North. In 2020, surveys in these regions found up to 12 percent of patients with asymptomatic urinary stone disease.  Most urinary stones occur in the kidneys, so they are often called kidney stones.  There are many different types of stones depending on the minerals, but the most common is calcium oxalate stone.

“People with the early urinary stone disease are often unaware of it because the stones are small and cause no abnormalities.  They would know when the stones are larger and cause urinary obstructions, pain, difficulty urinating, and blood in the urine in some people. Some patients even said that urinary stone pain is even worse than pain during labor. The problem is that urinary stone disease can recur, and if it happens frequently, the kidneys deteriorate faster, leading to chronic kidney failure,” said Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanchai Boonla, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University while revealing the silent threat of urinary stones.  He further explained that the most commonly known treatments are medications, ultrasound shockwave therapy (Shock wave lithotripsy – SWL), and surgery.  The medications are used to reduce the size of the stones and prevent them from growing bigger and can be passed (in urine) more easily.  If the stones are big, ultrasound shock waves are used to break the stones into smaller pieces, or if they are extra-large, then surgery is needed.

Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanchai Boonla, Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University
Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanchai Boonla,
Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University

Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanchai emphasized that most people are unaware of the danger of urinary stone disease, thinking that it’s not relevant to them and that it’s not life-threatening.  So, they neglect to prevent it.  Recently, MED-CU has promoted the latest medical innovation that can prevent urinary stone formation that is tasty and nutritious –  HydroZitLa – a concentrated herbal dink with “blue pea flower” and “banana stem”.

HydroZitLa, a concentrated beverage from blue pea flowers and banana stems to reduce the risk of urinary stones formation
HydroZitLa

Causes of urinary stones

The innovative anti-urinary-stones herbal drink, HydroZitLa was developed to address the major risk factors of urinary stones.  “The success in the research and development of HydroZitLa is credited to the team of Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanchai Boonla,  Asst. Prof. Dr. Nattida Chotechuang, Mr. Bundit Prachapiban, Ms. Natcha Madared, and master’s and doctoral degree students who have been helping with the research”, said Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanchai.

“Normally, people should drink at least 2 liters of water per day, but Thai people drink less on average — only 1-1.5 liters per day — not enough for the body needs, especially when we live in the tropics and are more dehydrated than those in other parts of the world.  This results in concentrated urine that has a deep yellow color, hence more chances of crystal-forming substances hardening into urinary stones.  In addition, eating local foods and vegetables high in oxalate, such as betel leaves increases the likelihood of calcium oxalate crystals in the urine that can lead to urinary stones as well.”  He also added two other main risk factors for Thais: low secretion of urinary citrate that can prevent urinary stone formation; and low antioxidants in the body causing high oxidative stress.  The kidney cells are easily destroyed and attract the crystalization of the urinary stones. 

“The urinary stone inhibitor is citrate, which is found in citrus fruits, such as lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, or more commonly found in tart cranberries and melons, which Thai people tend not to prefer as much as sweet fruits, making it easy for the body to get less citrate. Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables.  Moreover, consuming food high in sodium and protein also increases the chance of urinary stone formation.”

HydroZitLa drink reduces the risk of urinary stone formation

The high occurrence of chronic urinary stone problems among Thai people, and the side effects of potassium citrate medication in some patients led to the research and development of HydroZitla Citrate Plus drink, which is a combination of modern and traditional medicine that can solve the three abovementioned causes of the disease.  Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanchai explained the properties of the main herbs used to produce HydroZitla.

Banana stems

are the core stems after all the hands of bananas are removed.  They are easy to find and cheap if we need to buy them.  The substance in the banana stem has a diuretic effect and it can reduce the amount of oxalate in the urine.

Banana stems

Blue pea flowers

are high in antioxidants and give out a beautiful natural color.  When being extracted together with banana stems under appropriate temperature, time and in the proper ratio, the resulting mixture has the property to reduce the risk of urinary stone formation.

Blue pea flowers

HydroZitla concentrated herbal drink

has been certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the beverage in sealed containers category. It has passed the preclinical test and is now in the process of a clinical trial.  HydroZitLa is currently available at the automatic vending machines selling Chula medical innovations in various locations: the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, and Siam Innovation District (SID), Siam Square One Building. “Drink HydroZitla every day and discover for yourself how  peeing well is a piece of cake.”

Automatic vending machines selling Chula medical innovations
Automatic vending machines selling Chula medical innovations

“Every time you drink water, you are preventing urinary stones, and when you drink HydroZitla, which contains both citrate and antioxidants, it will help boost the fight against urinary stones even further,” Asst. Prof. Dr. Chanchai continued proudly. “In the future, we want to be part of the country’s driving forces to create more Thai innovations for the market.  In the past, we have been the recipients and users of foreign technologies for so long. It’s time for Thai people to create technologies for our own use and sell the products abroad so that our country can compete in technology and can get out of the middle-income trap like the developed countries.  Our research and development team is confident and determined to create new technologies by Thais to compete on the international arena.”

The sense of kinship and warmth found in the Chula community is priceless and a treasure worth keeping.

Prof. Dr. Pornanong Aramwit Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University