Kidneys are the essential part of our excretory system and the most important organs of our body. They filter blood to remove excess water and chemical waste products and produce urine. At times, urine gets concentrated due to dehydration. This leads to accumulation of the salts and minerals present in it to form minute crystals. Eventually these small crystals clump together to form a large mass called as Kidney Stone.

Can Drinking Beer Help Get Rid of Kidney Stones

Presence of stones in kidney affects its functions and often leads to infections in kidneys and urinary bladder. In addition, these stones cause irritation which leads to an incredible back pain.

Why Getting Rid of Kidney Stones is Necessary?

Kidney stone is caused in age groups from 25-45 yrs. Occurrence of kidney stone is abnormal and causes problems. The commonly observed symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Frequent infections of kidney which lead to fever, chills, foul smelling urine and vomiting.
  • Stones always do not stay in the kidneys. They pass through the ureters into the urinary bladder. Ureters are small, narrow and delicate tubes. In case of a passage of small sized (≤ 4mm) kidney stone, the person may not experience any pain. While a severe and constant pain is felt during the passage of a large sized (≥ 8mm) stone through the ureter. They cause spasms and irritation to the ureters. It is also accompanied by blood in the urine samples. While passing, the stone gets stuck and ureter squeezes the stone towards bladder which causes intense pain in the abdomen which may spread down to the lower abdomen. This pain is called renal colic.
  • Sometimes, kidney stones block the flow of urine leading to urinary obstruction and cause damage to the kidney.

Hence, it is necessary to get rid of kidney stones so that the renal system can remain healthy and function in a normal manner.

Can Drinking Beer Help Get Rid of Kidney Stones?

The exact cause of kidney stones is not known. Majority of these stones are made of calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate and there is no known medication available to dissolve them. Hence, management of small stones is through homecare methods and treatment of large stones is through surgery (lithotripsy and ureteroscopy).

The most common advice given to patients to prevent stone formation is to consume lots of liquid. It is necessary to consume appropriate type of liquid in large volumes. Some reports mention that a moderate consumption of beer is helpful to get rid of kidney stones. However, there are contrasting reports too. Thus, there exist two schools of thought regarding use of beer for kidney stones.

Previous studies indicate that intake of beer reduces risk of kidney stones by 41%. Beer is a type of alcohol, a diuretic and an antioxidant. Being a diuretic, it increases the volume of fluid in the body and forces kidney to expel it in the form of urine along with the by-products of alcohol metabolism. Thus a couple of pegs of beer can help to remove small sized kidney stones. It also reduces the risk of undergoing pain while passing of the kidney stones.

Another study reported that drinking of beer dilates the urinary tract which allows large sized stones to pass through easily. It also avoids use of sonic therapy to break kidney stones.

However, there are other reports which are against the use of beer for treating kidney stones problem. It is observed that some people with chronic kidney stone problem drink excessive amounts of beer daily to flush out their stones. However, it has counter effect which aggravates stone formation.

Since beer has a diuretic effect, it expels out more fluid (in form of urine) from the body which results in dehydration. Due to which urine becomes concentrated. It also becomes acidic due to increased amounts of oxalate and urate in it, leading to kidney stone formation. In addition, consumption of beer provokes gastrointestinal reflux and causes heart burns.

From the reports it appears that in mild cases of kidney stone problem, consumption of good quality beer in moderate amounts may be helpful. It may not be very beneficial in case of chronic kidney stone problems since consuming it in excess amounts can be harmful.

What Other Foods and Drinks Help in Getting Rid of Kidney Stones?

Some of the food and habits which lead to kidney stone are:

  • Consumption of protein rich food, salty foods and excessive sugar through sweets, soft drinks, diet colas, etc.
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Inadequate intake of fluids causing dehydration.

Hence, the most common advice given to patients to prevent kidney stone formation is to consume plenty of liquid. The reason is to keep urine diluted and prevent kidney stone formation. However, it is necessary to consume appropriate type of liquid. Since certain liquids such as sodas, colas, fruit punches, juices of grapes, cranberry and apple can aggravate kidney stone formation. The following are some of the drinks that help in getting rid of kidney stones:

  • Water Intake to Get Rid of Kidney Stones: Drinking plenty of water is the best treatment for removal and prevention of kidney stones. Ideally, one is advised to drink two to three litres of liquid per day and this is seen to be very beneficial in case of cystine stones.
  • Fruit Juices to Get Rid of Kidney Stones:
    • Lemon Juice: Daily intake of lemon juice is highly advised since it contains antioxidant Vitamin C. It raises the citrate levels in the urine which protect against calcium stones.
    • Cranberry Juice: Cranberry juice prevents urinary tract infections and it can be beneficial in preventing formation of struvite stones. However, it contains oxalates which increases chances of stone formation and hence must be consumed in the prescribed amounts.
    • Orange Juice: It is not yet clear if orange juice can prevent the formation of kidney stones. Some reports mention that due to its high fructose content it contributes to kidney stone formation. In contrast, other studies report that since orange juice has high amounts of potassium citrate it prevents effects of fructose. However, the presence of antioxidants can be helpful in protecting against formation of stones and hence must be consumed in moderate amount.
  • Other Beverages that Prevent or help in Getting Rid of Kidney Stones:
    • Alcohol Intake in Moderate Amount: Both red and white wines have been reported to prevent kidney stone formation by approximately 33%. Its protective effects are similar to beer.
    • Coffee: Both caffeinated and regular coffee reduces risk of kidney stones by 26% and 12%, respectively.
    • Tea: Studies have reported that tea reduces risk of kidney stones by 11%.
    • Soft Drinks: Soft drinks with phosphoric acid content should be avoided since it increases the risk of kidney stones. While soft drinks with citrate content should be preferred.
  • Foods that Help to Get Rid of Kidney Stones:
    • Consumption of horse gram, kidney beans, fresh fruits and vegetables is encouraged to prevent kidney stones.
    • While highly salted and non-veg food containing high purine content must be restricted.

Conclusion

Effective treatment of kidney stones has always been a challenge, due to their high rate of recurrence. Generally, a person with kidney stones experiences a lot of pain and discomfort. Hence, it is essential to follow any advice that will help to remove or prevent formation of stones. Inadequate fluid content in the body is often observed as the primary reason for kidney stone formation. Therefore, consumption of enough quantities of water and other liquids has been advised to get rid of kidney stones.

Consumption of beer too has been reported to have beneficial effects. However, one needs to be careful since there is a probability that it can do damage than good if taken in excessive amounts for a longer duration. Overall if there are other liquids/drinks with no side effects, then they should be preferred as compared to the beer for getting rid of stones.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: October 17, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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