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What home remedies can help with kidney stones?
Passing kidney stones can be extremely painful. Drinking plenty of water may help. Other home remedies, like drinking orange juice or apple cider vinegar, may also be worth a try.
Kidney stones, known as nephrolithiasis in medical terms, don't always cause issues — unless they start traveling from your kidney to your bladder, or out of your body.
Although uncomfortable, smaller stones often pass on their own. Meanwhile, larger stones may become lodged and require medical intervention.
You can help prevent kidney stones through certain lifestyle and dietary factors. Once the stones are there, there's not much you can do other than see a doctor. They can recommend suitable treatment, or let you know if you need to wait for them to pass.
Whether it's the first time you're dealing with kidney stones or if it's a recurring issue, you're likely eager to do whatever you can to get rid of them as soon as possible. We've looked at some home remedies that might be worth a try.
The most efficient, accessible, and affordable thing you can do to prevent kidney stones or support their passing is to drink plenty of water.
According to the National Kidney Foundation, your doctor may recommend drinking extra fluid to try and flush the stone out through your urine.
In addition, drinking enough water dilutes your urine, which experts believe may reduce the occurrence of these painful stones.
Staying hydrated is important for your overall health and well-being. Some nutritionists recommend drinking 8 glasses of water per day. You can learn more about how much water you need each day here.
2. Citrus juice
Juice from citrus fruits is often touted as a refreshing way to get rid of kidney stones.
In particular, some research suggests that lemon juice and orange juice could work to prevent stone formation. The juice may increase urinary citrate levels to help break down existing kidney stones.
According to a 2021 review, orange juice — and, to a lesser extent, lemon juice — may help protect you against kidney stones. However, the researchers conclude that the evidence is conflicting, and more research is needed.
Either way, enjoying plenty of water with a dash of lemon or other citrus juice is a great way to stay hydrated.
3. Cranberry juice
Some studies suggest that cranberry juice may help lower the pH of your urine, which might help break down the stones that cause you pain, preventing larger stones from forming. However, there is little evidence that cranberry juice is an effective home remedy for kidney stones.
That said, there is no issue with enjoying a refreshing and hydrating glass of cranberry juice.
4. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a common remedy to improve kidney stone symptoms. Yet, there's a lack of evidence that apple cider vinegar helps dissolve kidney stones.
A 2019 study proposes that vinegar might help reduce the formation of stones, but it remains unclear if it can improve existing symptoms.
Nevertheless, if you enjoy the taste of apple cider vinegar, you can add it to your salads or other recipes for a tangy twist and potential kidney stone benefits.
5. Tea and coffee
Many people recommend drinking tea and coffee for preventing and even treating kidney stones.
Although these popular beverages may work as a soothing part of your daily routine, evidence is unclear on their effects on this condition.
Some studies propose that tea and coffee may help prevent stone formation thanks to their antioxidant and hydration properties. Still, scientists are yet to clearly define any possible mechanisms by which they might break down kidney stones.
Rest assured, though, that neither of these warming drinks is thought to worsen the condition. Thus, kidney stones or not, you can keep enjoying tea and coffee throughout the day.
6. Chanca Piedra
Chanca Piedra (P. urinaria) is an herbal remedy known as the "stone breaker." Ayurvedic medicine and traditional medicine in Brazil and Peru use this.
Despite this promising name, its effectiveness remains unclear. While a few studies indicate that this herbal remedy could decrease kidney stones, more research is needed.
Keep in mind that the safety of this herb hasn't been studied extensively, so its potential negative side effects remain unclear.
When to see a doctor
Two-thirds of kidney stones pass on their own within 4 weeks.
It's important to note that using home remedies to aid the passing of kidney stones may not be effective.
Plus, even the most efficient home remedies won't stand a chance if your kidney stones are simply too large to pass. In such cases, medical treatments are needed, such as:
- shock wave therapy, which breaks kidney stones into small pieces, allowing them to pass more easily
- ureteroscopy, where a doctor inserts a small camera into the urethra to find the stone, then removes it or breaks it into small pieces
Healthcare professionals may prescribe medication to prevent kidney stones. You might take these drugs for weeks or months. Drugs that help treat kidney stones include:
- potassium citrate, which raises your urine’s citrate and pH levels
- allopurinol, which reduces high levels of uric acid
- mercaptopropionyl glycine, an antioxidant
- antibiotics to prevent infection
To determine if you need medical treatment, consider seeing a doctor if you experience any symptoms of kidney stones. Then, if they agree, you can attempt some of the home remedies listed above.
Although it can be tempting to rely on home remedies for kidney stone management, evidence of the efficacy of most options is lacking. There is no scientifically proven home remedy for breaking up kidney stones.
That said, remedies like drinking lemon water, cranberry juice, and tea and coffee are safe and tasty, and there's usually no harm in giving them a go.
It's always best to see a doctor if you experience symptoms of kidney stones to learn if you might require medical treatment — or if your stones may need to pass on their own.
- Barghouthy Y, et al. (2021). Role of citrus fruit juices in prevention of kidney stone disease (KSD): A narrative review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8625077/
- Barghouthy Y, et al. (2021). Tea and coffee consumption and the risk of urinary stones—a systematic review of the epidemiological data. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33458786/
- Fontenelle LF, et al. (2019). Kidney stones: Treatment and prevention. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2019/0415/p490.html
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- Geethangili M, et al. (2018). A review of the phytochemistry and pharmacology of Phyllanthus urinaria L. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6174540/
- Kidney stones. (n.d.). https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/kidneystones
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- Treatment for kidney stones. (2017). https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/kidney-stones/treatment
- Zhu W, et al. (2019). Dietary vinegar prevents kidney stone recurrence via epigenetic regulations. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6642359/