According to the National Kidney Foundation, over half a million people every year ask for a medical help for symptoms of kidney stones. Passing kidney stones causes a lot of discomfort and pain, which is why this can prevent you from fulfilling normal, everyday responsibilities both at home and at work.(1)
In the majority of cases, pain medications are used to treat kidney stones, but this is not the only way one can speed up their removal. If you have kidney stones, you can get rid of them by making certain changes to your diet and lifestyle.
In this article, we’re going to explain what kidney stones are, what natural home remedies you can use to successfully deal with them, what risk factors for kidney stones exist, and when you should consult your doctor. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
Kidney stones, also known as nephrolithiasis or renal stones, are hard deposits that are made of salts and minerals which accumulate in the kidneys. There are four types of kidney stones. Most of them are calcium stones and other forms include uric acid stones, cysteine stones, and struvite stones.
Smaller stones don’t normally cause a problem as they can pass by themselves without causing pain. However, bigger ones may block the normal urine flow which leads to pain in the bladder as well as increase the amount of minerals in the urine as they build up and can’t be passed. Larger kidney stones may cause symptoms, such as strong pain in your lower abdomen or back, pain while you’re urinating, vomiting, nausea, and blood in your urine.
Once kidney stones are passed, they don’t usually cause damage in the urinary tract. However, in some cases, untreated kidney stones may damage the kidneys and even lead to kidney failure. In this case, surgery is required.
The acetic acid which is present in apple cider vinegar can help break up kidney stones. Not only does apple cider vinegar help flush kidney stones out of your body, it also helps alleviate pain associated with the stones.
One study has found that apple cider vinegar combined with wood apple prevent calcium oxalate crystals from aggregating and nucleating (2).
However, apple cider vinegar shouldn’t be consumed undiluted. If you have kidney stones, dilute 2 tablespoons of this vinegar with 6-8 ounces of plain water and drink this mixture several times during the day. You shouldn’t drink more than 8 ounces of the mixture daily. In addition, you can add the mixture to your favorite salads.
It’s worth mentioning that apple cider vinegar is thought to help dissolve and flush out gallstones, but more research is needed to determine whether this vinegar really has this effect.
An important note we need to make here is that if apple cider vinegar is consumed in large quantities, it can decrease potassium levels and cause osteoporosis. Additionally, people suffering from diabetes should observe the level of their blood sugar when drinking apple cider vinegar throughout the day. And last but not least, those who are taking diuretics, insulin, and digoxin should not drink apple cider vinegar.
Staying hydrated plays a crucial role in passing kidney stones as well as hindering the formation of new stones. Drinking a lot of fluids, such as plain water, fruit-infused water, or herbal tea, helps flush kidney stones and toxins out of your body. Drinking such hydrating drinks is especially important if your diet is high in sodium. Although your fluid intake depends on your body weight, the climate where you live, your diet, and how much you’re physically active, make sure you drink 8-12 glasses of water a day.
It’s worth mentioning that compared to other fluids, tea, orange juice, coffee, wine, and beer are associated with a reduced risk of formation of kidney stones, whereas consuming punch and sodas that are sweetened with sugar is related to an increased risk of kidney stone formation (3).
In addition, sugar-sweetened beverages contain fructose whose intake may raise the excretion of uric acid, calcium, and oxalate in the urine, which are all factors related to a risk of kidney stone formation (4).
Many people think that they should avoid eating foods rich in calcium so as to lower the risk of calcium stone formation. But this is wrong. Foods packed with calcium have been actually related to a lower risk of kidney stone formation in some studies (5).
One study which included 120 men who had hypercalciuria and calcium oxalate stones divided participants into two groups. Men in one group were asked to have a diet which contained 30 mmol of calcium a day, but had a reduced amount of salt and animal protein, and men in the other group were asked to eat diet containing 10 mmol of calcium daily.
After 5 years passed, the results showed that excretion of oxalate in the urine increased in men in the second group and decreased in those who consumed 30 mmol of calcium a day (6).
However, it should be noted that calcium supplement intake may raise the kidney stone risk (7).
Foods that are packed with calcium include cheese, yogurt, and milk. In addition, for the majority of adults, it’s recommended that they take 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily, whereas those who are over 70 and women aged over 50 should take 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily.
Citrate, a compound present in lemons, can dissolve small kidney stones, thereby enabling them to flush out of your body more easily and it can also hinder the formation of calcium stones.
You can squeeze as many lemons as you want, (although a good amount of lemons is required to make a great effect), to make lemon juice and you can consume it every day.
Additionally, due to the fact that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) increases oxalate absorption from foods and is converted to oxalate in your body, taking vitamin C supplements may raise the risk of kidney stone formation (10).
It should be noted, too, that in one study, dietary intake of vitamin C wasn’t related to risk of kidney stones among women or men (11).
A study has shown that eating foods low in salt and a normal intake of calcium offers higher protection of kidney stone formation than a diet which is low in calcium(12).
Similarly, another study has found that a diet which is low in salt can lower the excretion of calcium in people with hypercalciuric stones (13).
It’s worth mentioning that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggests adults should consume less than 2,3oo milligrams of salt, i.e. sodium, daily, which is actually approximately 1 teaspoon of salt. Nevertheless, a majority of people eat way more than that amount of salt globally.(14)
The best way to limit your intake of sodium is to eat less processed foods.
Oxalate is a compound present in a lot of foods, such as beans, leafy greens, cocoa, chocolate, berries, nuts, and sweet potatoes, to name just a few. Your body also produces oxalate.
Too much oxalate may lead to kidney stone formation. For instance, one study has found that oxalate present in foods contributes to excretion of oxalate in urine and its absorption may lead to formation of oxalate stones (15).
Nevertheless, foods that are loaded with oxalate are also very healthy and therefore it’s not recommended that you have a strict diet low in oxalates. This type of diet is recommended for people suffering from hyperoxaluria, which is a condition that occurs when one has a large amount of oxalate in their urine. So, if you have kidney stones, before deciding to cut down on foods high in oxalates, consult your doctor to see if this step may benefit your health.
Celery juice is believed to help your body pass kidney stones and remove toxins which contribute to the formation of kidney stones.
To make celery juice, just mix 1-5 stalks of celery with water and drink this mixture several times a day. However, we advise you not to drink celery juice if:
Citric acid is present in many vegetables and fruits, especially citrus fruits, such as limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruits. Studies have found that this acid may help hinder the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones (16,17).
This juice has been used to enhance function of the kidneys for many years. Pomegranate juice helps your body flush out toxins and kidney stones. It is rich in antioxidants which play an important role in keeping the kidneys healthy and they may also play a role in hindering the formation of kidney stones.
Pomegranate juice also decreases the level of acidity in the urine, which, in turn, decreases the risk of forming new kidney stones.
More research is needed to establish the effect of pomegranate juice on kidney stones, however one pilot study has shown that taking pomegranate extract doesn’t raise the kidney stone risk and it may be a useful tool for lowering supersaturation of calcium oxalate in patients with raised levels of paraoxonase1 (18).
However, it’s not recommended that you drink pomegranate juice if:
An effective home remedy to make kidney stones pass more quickly is to consume plenty of water, orange juice, and lemon water. By consuming plenty of fluids a day, you’ll urinate more, and as a result, prevent the stones from getting larger and help them move. Try to drink 2-3 quarts of water or juices daily.
There are a few home remedies that may help quickly break up kidney stones, but it should be clear that they might not work for everyone
The acetic acid found in basil may help ease pain and break down kidney stones. Drinking one glass of basil juice or one teaspoon of extract from basil may help you deal with kidney stones.
The citric acid present in lemon juice may help dissolve kidney stones and olive oil may help flush them out.
Those who support this method claim that once you feel the first symptoms of kidney stones, you should mix ¼ cup of lemon juice with ¼ cup of olive oil. You should drink one glass of water once you drink the mixture, but you also need to make sure that you drink a lot of water during the entire day. You can make and consume the same mixture again in the afternoon.
To flush out kidney stones, consume steamed asparagus as this will cause you to urinate more. Eating watermelons or cucumbers may have the same effect as well.
Apple cider vinegar may help break down kidney stones due to the acids present in it. Moreover, this vinegar hinders kidney stone formation by making your urine and blood more alkaline and stimulating your body to produce hydrochloric acid.
Those who support this method recommend that you dilute 2 tablespoons of this vinegar with 8 ounces of water and often consume this combination during the day, particularly before eating meals.
As we already said, you can have kidney stones without symptoms. But the symptoms can begin appearing once your kidney stone starts to move within your kidney or through your urinary tract. These symptoms include:
- sesame seeds
- buckwheat flour
- chocolate soy milk
- swiss chard
- antiseizure medications
- calcium-based antacids
- HIV treatments
When You Should See Your Doctor
If you can’t pass your kidney stone in a 6-week period or the following symptoms start appearing, make sure you see your doctor: