Also known as nephrolithiasis, kidney stones are the crystalline stones present in the urinary system. They may be present in the kidney or in the ureter. They are generally formed in the kidney and passed in to the ureter. The pain originates due to the stone is very severe and is known as renal colic. Symptoms of kidney stones other than pain are hematuria, nausea and vomiting and urine urgency. If the stone is small enough, then it can pass through during urination. The larger stones require medical intervention.
Is Cranberry Juice Good for Kidney Stones?
Various researches have been done to find out whether cranberry juice provides relief from the kidney stones or if the cranberry juice helps in preventing the recurrence of kidney stones to develop.
There are various types of kidney stones depending upon the element with which the kidney stones are formed:
- Calcium Oxalate Stones: The crystals of calcium oxalate are the reason for kidney stones in majority of the patients. These are made up of calcium and oxalate.
- Calcium Phosphate Stones: These are made up of calcium and phosphorus and are present in few patients.
- Uric Acid: The uric acid crystals are formed when the urine is acidic for a longer period and is present in few patients.
- Struvite: Present in few of the patients with kidney stones, it contains magnesium, ammonium and phosphorus. It may be formed at the time of urinary tract infection.
As it is a known fact that majority of the kidney stones formed are due to calcium oxalate crystals, thus the effect of cranberry juice in patients with these stones is largely studied.
Calcium oxalate crystals are formed when there is too much oxalate in the urine or there is high concentration of oxalate in the urine. In such a condition, these crystals form solid kidney stones. If the patient has the tendency to form calcium oxalate crystals, the doctor may recommend the patient diet with very less amount of oxalate. The patient is advised to stay away from the oxalate-rich foods such as beets, spinach, sweet potato, nuts, black pepper and soy products.
Research has been done to evaluate whether the cranberry juice promotes the formation of the calcium oxalate stones.
Majority of research and references concludes that cranberry juice promotes the formation of calcium oxalate stones. These studies further state that it may help in removal of other kidney stones such as struvite. Two possible reasons are provided for why not to use cranberry juice in the crystals of calcium oxalate:
- Alteration in pH: A study was done to identify the pH range having maximum risk for calcium oxalate crystallization. The study concludes that the maximum risk is at the acidic pH. Thus, acidic pH is required to form the crystals of calcium oxalate. Cranberry juice is composed of various acids which make the pH of urine further acidic. Though it may have a beneficial effect on urinary tract infection, but can promote the formation of calcium oxalate crystals. Thus, cranberry juice is not recommended to patients with tendency of forming calcium oxalate crystals.
- Containing Oxalate: As the doctors advised the patients to stay away from the food containing oxalate, cranberry juice is not recommended to such patients as it also contains oxalate.
Thus, cranberry juice should be given to a kidney stone patient only after taking an advice from the healthcare professional.
Majority of the stones found in the kidney are made up of calcium oxalate. These stones are formed in an acidic environment when the pH is below 7. Further, the patients are advised to stay away from the food containing oxalate. Cranberry juice is quite popular among the patients with kidney problems. It may be beneficial to the patients with urinary tract infection, but is not recommended to patients with kidney stones of calcium oxalate because it may make urine acidic and it also contains oxalate. However, it may be helpful in other kidney stones with other composition such as struvite.
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