5 Useful Home Remedies for Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard deposits of acid salts and minerals that form in the kidneys and are painful when passed. Kidney stones stick together in concentrated urine, and when they pass through the urinary tract, they cause an immense amount of pain. However, they don’t usually cause any type of permanent damage. The most common symptom of kidney stones is severe pain, usually on one side of the abdomen, often associated with nausea. There are many treatments for kidney stones, both prescribed and natural remedies. While in the case of larger stones, medical intervention might be required to remove or break up the stones, smaller kidney stones can be treated with the help of natural home remedies. Here are some natural home remedies for kidney stones.

5 Useful Home Remedies for Kidney Stones

1. Hydration is Key

The most effective home remedy for preventing as well as getting rid of kidney stones is to drink plenty of fluids. Fluids help in diluting and increasing the volume of the stone-forming compounds in urine. This makes it less likely for the substances to crystallize. (1)

However, you need to be aware that not all fluids will have the same effect. For instance, increasing your intake of water will lower the risk of kidney stone formation. Still, at the same time, if you increase the consumption of beverages such as tea, coffee, wine, beer, and orange juice, then they may lower the risk of kidney stones, but they are not as effective as water. (2, 3, 4)

However, increasing your fluid intake does not mean that you start gulping down sodas. A high intake of soda is known to further contribute to the formation of kidney stones. This is true not just for sugar-sweetened sodas, but also for artificially sweetened sodas. (3)

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are known to be rich in fructose, which increases the excretion of oxalate, uric acid, and calcium. All these are essential substances that increase your risk of kidney stones. (5, 6)

Many studies have found that a high intake of sugary soft drinks is associated with an increased risk of kidney stones, mainly due to the high phosphoric acid present in these colas. (7, 8)

2. Drink Lemon Juice

Lemons are rich in citrate, which is a compound that helps break down the accumulated calcium deposits in the kidneys and also slow down their growth.

A 2019 cross-sectional study discovered that drinking sugar-free lemon juice was an excellent remedy for treating kidney stones. (9)

A survey by the Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute in Ohio found that consuming just four ounces of lemon juice can boost the levels of citrate in the body. (10)

However, when you purchase juice products, it is essential that you read the nutritional label carefully as many lemon juice products contain only small amounts of pure lemon extract while being high on sweeteners. This will only increase your risk of developing kidney stones.

Buying fresh lemons and squeezing out the juice at home is the best way to get undiluted lemon juice. Apart from lemon juice, you can also have orange and melon juice, both of which contain high levels of citric acid.

3. Cut down on Foods High in Oxalates

Oxylate (oxalic acid) is a type of antinutrient that is found in many plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, leafy green vegetables, and cocoa. (11) Your body also produces considerable amounts of oxalate naturally.

High intake of oxalate helps increase the excretion of oxalate in your urine, which can be a problem for those who are prone to form calcium oxalate crystals. (12) Oxalate helps bind calcium and other minerals, which results in forming crystals that cause the formation of stones.

However, foods that are high in oxalate are also very healthy. This is why following a strict low-oxalate diet is not recommended for all people prone to kidney stones.

A low-oxalate diet, though, is recommended for people who have hyperoxaluria, which is a condition marked by high levels of oxalate in urine. (13) People with this condition have calcium oxalate kidney stones.

Before making any changes to your diet, though, you must consult your doctor or dietitian to find out whether following a low-oxalate diet can help you.

4. Reduce your Salt Intake

You need to reduce your intake of salt as a diet rich in salt is associated with a high risk of kidney stones. (14, 15)

Having a high intake of sodium, which is the primary component of table salt, is known to increase calcium excretion through urine. This is considered to be one of the major risk factors for kidney stones. (16, 17) However, at the same time, many studies carried out in younger adults have been unable to find a direct association between increased salt intake and a higher risk of kidney stones. (18, 19)

Nevertheless, most dietary guidelines suggest that people should restrict their sodium intake to just 2,300 milligrams per day. But the fact is that most people end up consuming a lot more sodium than this recommended amount.

Reducing your consumption of packaged and processed foods is the best way of decreasing your sodium intake. (20)

5. Decrease the Consumption of Animal Protein

A diet that is high in animal protein such as fish, meat, and even dairy products, is linked with a higher risk of kidney stones. This is believed to be because animal protein is known to increase calcium excretion and, at the same time, also reduce the levels of citrate in the body. (21, 22)

Additionally, sources of animal protein are also rich in purines, which are compounds that get broken down into uric acid and increase the risk of forming uric acid stones. (23)

While all foods contain purines in different amounts, but liver, kidney, and other organ meats are known to contain very high amounts of purines. Plant foods are low in purines and, therefore, a preferred food to include in your diet if you are prone to developing kidney stones.

Conclusion

If you have a kidney stone or you are prone to having kidney stones, then there are many home remedies you can follow to reduce your risk. By increasing your fluid intake, consuming foods that are rich in certain nutrients, reducing the amount of sodium and animal protein are just some of the simple remedies you can follow to prevent the formation of painful kidney stones.

References:

  1. Han, H., Segal, A.M., Seifter, J.L. and Dwyer, J.T., 2015. Nutritional management of kidney stones (nephrolithiasis). Clinical nutrition research, 4(3), pp.137-152.
  2. Bao, Y. and Wei, Q., 2012. Water for preventing urinary stones. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6)
  3. Ferraro, P.M., Taylor, E.N., Gambaro, G. and Curhan, G.C., 2013. Soda and other beverages and the risk of kidney stones. Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 8(8), pp.1389-1395.
  4. Curhan, G.C., Willett, W.C., Rimm, E.B., Spiegelman, D. and Stampfer, M.J., 1996. Prospective study of beverage use and the risk of kidney stones. American journal of epidemiology, 143(3), pp.240-247.
  5. Taylor, E.N. and Curhan, G.C., 2008. Fructose consumption and the risk of kidney stones. Kidney international, 73(2), pp.207-212.
  6. Nguyen, N.U., Dumoulin, G.T.H.M., Henriet, M.T. and Regnard, J., 1995. Increase in urinary calcium and oxalate after fructose infusion. Hormone and metabolic research, 27(03), pp.155-158.
  7. Fink, H.A., Akornor, J.W., Garimella, P.S., MacDonald, R., Cutting, A., Rutks, I.R., Monga, M. and Wilt, T.J., 2009. Diet, fluid, or supplements for secondary prevention of nephrolithiasis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. European urology, 56(1), pp.72-80.
  8. Saldana, T.M., Basso, O., Darden, R. and Sandler, D.P., 2007. Carbonated beverages and chronic kidney disease. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.), 18(4), p.501.
  9. Bazyar, H., Ahmadi, A., Javid, A.Z., Irani, D., Sartang, M.M. and Haghighizadeh, M.H., 2019. The association between dietary intakes and stone formation in patients with urinary stones in Shiraz. Medical journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 33, p.8.
  10. Gul, Z. and Monga, M., 2014. Medical and dietary therapy for kidney stone prevention. Korean journal of urology, 55(12), pp.775-779.
  11. Bsc, S.N. and Bsc, G.S., 1999. Oxalate content of foods and its effect on humans. Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition, 8(1), pp.64-74.
  12. Holmes, R.P., Goodman, H.O. and Assimos, D.G., 2001. Contribution of dietary oxalate to urinary oxalate excretion. Kidney international, 59(1), pp.270-276.
  13. Gul, Z. and Monga, M., 2014. Medical and dietary therapy for kidney stone prevention. Korean journal of urology, 55(12), pp.775-779.
  14. Curhan, G.C., Willett, W.C., Speizer, F.E., Spiegelman, D. and Stampfer, M.J., 1997. Comparison of dietary calcium with supplemental calcium and other nutrients as factors affecting the risk for kidney stones in women. Annals of internal medicine, 126(7), pp.497-504.
  15. Borghi, L., Schianchi, T., Meschi, T., Guerra, A., Allegri, F., Maggiore, U. and Novarini, A., 2002. Comparison of two diets for the prevention of recurrent stones in idiopathic hypercalciuria. New England Journal of Medicine, 346(2), pp.77-84.
  16. Nouvenne, A., Meschi, T., Prati, B., Guerra, A., Allegri, F., Vezzoli, G., Soldati, L., Gambaro, G., Maggiore, U. and Borghi, L., 2010. Effects of a low-salt diet on idiopathic hypercalciuria in calcium-oxalate stone formers: a 3-mo randomized controlled trial. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 91(3), pp.565-570.
  17. Curhan, G.C., Willett, W.C., Rimm, E.B. and Stampfer, M.J., 1993. A prospective study of dietary calcium and other nutrients and the risk of symptomatic kidney stones. New England Journal of Medicine, 328(12), pp.833-838.
  18. Curhan, G.C., Willett, W.C., Knight, E.L. and Stampfer, M.J., 2004. Dietary factors and the risk of incident kidney stones in younger women: Nurses’ Health Study II. Archives of internal medicine, 164(8), pp.885-891.
  19. Taylor, E.N., Stampfer, M.J. and Curhan, G.C., 2004. Dietary factors and the risk of incident kidney stones in men: new insights after 14 years of follow-up. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 15(12), pp.3225-3232.
  20. Mattes, R.D. and Donnelly, D., 1991. Relative contributions of dietary sodium sources. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 10(4), pp.383-393.
  21. Heilberg, I.P. and Goldfarb, D.S., 2013. Optimum nutrition for kidney stone disease. Advances in chronic kidney disease, 20(2), pp.165-174.
  22. Caudarella, R. and Vescini, F., 2009. Urinary citrate and renal stone disease: the preventive role of alkali citrate treatment. Arch Ital Urol Androl, 81(3), pp.182-187.
  23. Kenny, J.E.S. and Goldfarb, D.S., 2010. Update on the pathophysiology and management of uric acid renal stones. Current rheumatology reports, 12(2), pp.125-129.

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