By Sayer Ji | Guest Writer
Kidney stones are a familiar condition involving crystals forming within the kidneys, affecting some 12% of the global population.[i] They have affected humans since 4,000 BC, surfacing as the most common disease of the urinary tract.
Recurring stone formation has been linked to a number of chronic diseases, including end-stage renal failure, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.[ii] Kidney stones have even been considered a systemic condition linked to metabolic syndrome.
Stone formation is rather common, with an estimated five-year recurrence rate of up to 50%.[iii] Its prevalence has been on the rise in the last half century, in part due to dietary and lifestyle changes.
If you’re at risk for or have had kidney stones, you may be interested in exploring natural remedies. Here are some that are worth trying.
Studies have previously suggested that daily water intake that produces at least 2.5 litters (L) of urine every day can protect against kidney stones.[iv]
A meta-analysis took this further and confirmed that water consumption was associated with a reduced risk of kidney stones.[v] The researchers noted, “By increasing urine volume, increased water intake can dilute urine concentration, reduce CaOx [calcium oxalate] super saturation, decrease urine acid, and remove salt.”
Lemonade therapy appears to help dissolve kidney stones, assisting patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis. In one study, four men and seven women were treated with lemonade therapy for an average of 44.4 months, while a control group with four men and seven women were treated with potassium citrate for an average of 42.5 months.[vi]
Of the 11 patients treated with lemonade, 10 showed increased urinary citrate levels. The therapy therefore appears as a reasonable alternative for patients who cannot tolerate first-line therapy, the researchers noted.
Citrate, a salt present in citric acid, binds to calcium and helps block stone formation. [vii] Citrus fruits and juices are known sources of dietary citrate, with lemon juice appearing to have the highest concentration of it. [viii] In a separate study, administering lemon juice to animal models inhibited increased kidney calcium levels and showed protective action against urolithiasis (kidney stones).[ix]
To test the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in certain stone formers, researchers evaluated the effects of supplementing with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) on urinary risk factors for forming calcium oxalate stones.[x]
The team studied 15 healthy subjects who consumed a standardized diet for five days and collected daily 24-hour urine samples. During specific intervention phases, subjects received 900 milligrams (mg) of EPA and 600 mg of DHA every day.
The results revealed that 30-day omega-3 supplementation effectively reduced the excretion of urinary oxalates and the risk of calcium oxalate crystals, serving as a potential long-term intervention.
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Orange juice may hold therapeutic effects on stone-forming risk.[xi] In a study, 13 volunteers, made up of nine healthy individuals and four stone formers, received distilled water, orange juice or lemonade while on a metabolic diet. The researchers collected 24-hour urine samples.
Findings showed that orange juice and lemonade had comparable citrate content. The former, however, was associated with lower calculated calcium oxalates and uric acid.
“This short-term study suggests that orange juice consumption could result in biochemical modification of stone risk factors; however, additional studies are needed to evaluate its role in long-term prevention of recurrent nephrolithiasis,” the team wrote.
Horse gram, known as Kulattha in Ayurveda, the ancient Indian wellness system, emerged as superior to potassium in treating kidney calcification disease.[xii] This herb has been used since ancient times for kidney stones, cough, asthma and piles, to name a few.[xiii]
A study assessed 47 patients diagnosed with calcium oxalate stones, 24 of which received horse gram and 23 given potassium citrate for six months. The outcomes showed that horse gram can reduce the recurrence of calcium oxalate stones, yielding better results than using conventional potassium citrate.
In a 2004 study, vitamin E ameliorated oxidative stress associated with kidney stone formation among tuberculosis patients.[xiv] The use of the nutrient reduced the risk of stone formation in the patients, who were treated with a routine antituberculosis drug regimen.
In the first study to demonstrate the benefit in vivo, vitamin E therapy prevented the deposition of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys by improving antioxidant status in renal tissues.[xv]
Evening Primrose Oil
Research back in 1994 assessed various oils and their effect on the kidney stones of male animal subjects: fat-free oil, coconut oil, fish oil and evening primrose oil.[xvi]
The results suggested that the renal urokinase activity in infection-induced kidney stones may be restored through diets rich in evening primrose oil, making it a relevant aid in prevention and treatment.
Nigella sativa, more commonly known as black seed, may help treat or reduce the size of kidney stones. In a study on 60 patients with renal stones, the patients were treated with 500 mg of black seed capsules or placebo twice a day for 10 weeks.[xvii]
In the black seed group, 44.4% of patients excreted their stones completely, with the size of the stones remaining unchanged. In the placebo group, 15.3% did the same. Compared with placebo, black seed demonstrated a significantly greater positive effect in dissolving or reducing the size of the painful stones.
You can learn more about the latest breakthroughs in kidney stone research on the GreenMedInfo.com database.
- [i]Alelign T et al “Kidney Stone Disease: An Update on Current Concepts”Adv Urol. 2018; 2018: 3068365. Epub 2018 Feb 4.
- [ii] Alelign T et al “Kidney Stone Disease: An Update on Current Concepts” Adv Urol. 2018; 2018: 3068365. Epub 2018 Feb 4.
- [iii] Khan S et al “Kidney stones” Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2016 Feb 25; 2: 16008. Epub 2016 Feb 25.
- [iv] Xu C et al “Self-Fluid Management in Prevention of Kidney Stones: A PRISMA-Compliant Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies” Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Jul; 94(27): e1042. Epub 2015 Jul 13.
- [v] Xu C et al “Self-Fluid Management in Prevention of Kidney Stones: A PRISMA-Compliant Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies” Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Jul; 94(27): e1042. Epub 2015 Jul 13.
- [vi] Kang D et al “Long-term lemonade based dietary manipulation in patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis” J Urol. 2007 Apr;177(4):1358-62.
- [vii] Harvard Health Publishing Jan 29 2020
- [viii] Kang D et al “Long-term lemonade based dietary manipulation in patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis” J Urol. 2007 Apr;177(4):1358-62.
- [ix] Touhami M et al “Lemon juice has protective activity in a rat urolithiasis model” BMC Urol. 2007 Oct 5;7:18.
- [x] Siener R et al “Effect of n-3 fatty acid supplementation on urinary risk factors for calcium oxalate stone formation” J Urol. 2011 Feb;185(2):719-24. Epub 2010 Dec 18.
- [xi] Odvina C “Comparative value of orange juice versus lemonade in reducing stone-forming risk” Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2006 Nov;1(6):1269-74. Epub 2006 Aug 30.
- [xii] Singh R et al “Litholytic property of Kulattha (Dolichous biflorus) vs potassium citrate in renal calculus disease: a comparative study” J Assoc Physicians India. 2010 May;58:286-9.
- [xiii] Easy Ayurveda https://www.easyayurveda.com/2016/02/29/horse-gram-uses-recipes-side-effects/
- [xiv] Srinivasan S et al “Oxidative stress in urogenital tuberculosis patients: a predisposing factor for renal stone formation–amelioration by vitamin E supplementation” Clin Chim Acta. 2004 Dec;350(1-2):57-63.
- [xv] Thamilselvan S et al “Vitamin E therapy prevents hyperoxaluria-induced calcium oxalate crystal deposition in the kidney by improving renal tissue antioxidant status” BJU Int. 2005 Jul;96(1):117-26.
- [xvi] Du Toit P et al “Pyelonephritis: renal urokinase activity in rats on essential fatty acid diets” Urol Res. 1994;22(3):127-30.
- [xvii] Movaghati M et al “Efficacy of black seed (Nigella sativa L.) on kidney stone dissolution: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial” Phytother Res. 2019 May;33(5):1404-1412. Epub 2019 Mar 14.
About the Author
Sayer Ji is the founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, and Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.