Home Remedies for Kidney Stones: What You Need to Know
Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger is a board certified urologist in NYC who specializes in treating men and women with kidney stones and ureteral stones.
Are There Any Home Remedies For Kidney Stones?
There are a number of things patients can do to decrease their risk of kidney stones in the future. In general some stones can be passed. Many experienced patients know when they are passing a stone.
Trying to dissolve a stone that is causing pain is usually not helpful as most stones are not dissolvable; those that are dissolvable take months to dissolve with medications (depending on size). In addition, there is no way for you to know whether the stone is dissolvable or not.
Home remedies should not be a replacement for seeing an urologist. If you suspect you have kidney stones or you have a confirmed diagnosis of kidney stones, you should be aware that there can be significant co-existing medical problems, even cancer that may cause similar symptoms, of which you will remain unaware and untreated if you do not seek medical care. Home remedies are not the answer to kidney stones and can only be part of lifestyle changes.
Fluid Intake: Drink to Health
Drinking plenty of fluids and modifying your diet can help prevent kidney stones. Drinking lemonade juice may be beneficial if you have kidney stones. Lemons are a rich natural source of citrate, a substance that prevents stone formation.
Magnesium: A Friend of Kidney Stone Sufferers
Magnesium is another substance that is a known inhibitor of calcium oxalate crystal formation in the urine. It prevents the urine from becoming super-saturated with stone-forming salts. You can try increasing your intake of magnesium by eating foods such as bananas, avocados, and whole grains. A popular supplement recommended by Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger and many other urologists who treat kidney stones is Beelith (magnesium supplement containing Magnesium oxide and Vitamin B6).
Caffeine is a Draw: Benefit for Kidney Stones but Can Cause other Problems
Studies have shown conflicting results when it comes to caffeine consumption and the risk of stone formation. Research has indicated that caffeine intake is associated with a moderately increased risk of stones because of increased excretion of calcium in the urine, making it more likely for calcium oxalate to crystallize. However, other studies indicate that caffeine can lower the risk of kidney stones. This benefit is thought to be due to the increased volume of urine associated with caffeine intake.
Caffeine makes you pee. Anything that makes you pee a lot, that acts as a diuretic, is good at lowering kidney stone risk.
Caffeine however has some undesirable effects on general health: increases risk of overactive bladder for example. In other words, consume caffeine mindfully.
Fruits & Vegetables are Good For You.
A large observational study of more than 80,000 postmenopausal women called the Women’s Health Initiative showed that a higher intake of dietary fiber and greater fruit and vegetable consumption reduced the risk of kidney stones by up to 25 percent.
Coke? Skip It. Drink Lemonade Instead.
The Coke treatment or cola therapy for kidney stones claims that the high phosphoric acid content of dark colas can dissolve calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones when these drinks are consumed in large quantities. This treatment is an Internet myth.
The small quantities of phosphoric acid present in colas cannot be absorbed and transported to the kidneys in sufficient amounts to dissolve kidney stones. In fact, studies have shown that cola drinks worsen stone risk by reducing the amount of citrate and magnesium in the urine (substances which decrease stone formation) and increasing the amount of oxalate in the urine (a substance which increases stone formation).
Overall, there is probably neither significant benefit nor significant harm from Coke and other cola drinks when it comes to stone risk.
While drinking any fluid is better than not drinking as more fluid leads to more dilute urine and decreases stone risk, it is not advisable to drink sugar-loaded, sodium-rich cola drinks for various other reasons including risk of weight gain/obesity. Plain water or lemonade are better options during an episode of kidney stone pain and for stone prevention.
If You Have Acute and Severe Symptoms Trying Home Remedies is Not Likely to Help
Symptoms usually occur when a kidney stone gets stuck, for example, in a ureter. Ureters are the pair of narrow channels that carry urine from each kidney to the bladder. Obstruction in the ureters can be either partial or complete. Smaller kidney stones can pass on their own simply by pushing fluids, but if you have severe pain or signs of infection (fever, chills) associated with kidney stones, home remedies will not help. If an obstruction in the urinary system is not treated by a urologist, nausea and vomiting and severe infection can develop. The infection will not clear with antibiotics until the obstruction is relieved. You should see a urologist and obtain appropriate treatment before complications develop.
We offer affordable, highest-quality urology care. We offer weekday, weekend, and evening office hours in our New York City offices.
Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger has helped hundreds of men and women with kidney stones suffering from pain to become stone-free. He uses minimally invasive technology to improve patient care. Most patients are able to return to their activities the next day.