Top 6 Helpful Home Remedies For Kidney Stones You Need To Know

These home remedies for kidney stones are promising for both prevention and potential treatment of existing stones.

Kidney stones can be unpleasant to deal with to say the least. The pain and discomfort can be unbearable for a lot of folks. If you end up with a kidney stone that’s too big to pass on its own, the cost of treatment can add insult to injury. With the national average cost of shock wave lithotripsy coming in at $19,000, it’s no wonder people are searching for home remedies for kidney stones.

Kidney stones are expensive (and they hurt)

Depending on the source, anywhere from 500,000 to over a million people currently visit the ER each year due to kidney stone issues. And those trips are expensive. When you include everything from treatment costs to lost work days—it’s estimated that the annual economic cost of kidney stones is more than $5 billion.

And while the costs associated with kidney stones are high, the pain associated with passing one is arguably higher. I’m willing to bet, if you’ve had a stone before, you’re onboard with doing anything you can to help prevent ever having to deal with another one. If you’ve never had a kidney stone, check out this collection of first-hand experiences to understand the fun involved. (Spoiler, the pain can be on par with childbirth.)

6 home remedies for kidney stones

A quick sidebar before going any further. While the following home remedies for kidney stones have been shown to be helpful, stones can definitely get too big to pass or may not respond to these at-home therapies. If you have, or suspect you have a kidney stone, it’s always best to discuss any sort of potential treatment with your doctor.

And remember, studies are mixed when it comes to home remedies being able to actually dissolve stones that have already formed. Especially when dealing with larger stones. When it comes to kidney stones, prevention is best.

Water, water, water.

When it comes to kidney stones, water is your best friend. The more you drink, the more you dilute your urine, which reduces your risk of developing stones. Unlike some other home remedies for kidney stones, this simple tip can be remarkably effective in preventing all types of stones.

Currently, the recommended urine output is at least 2.5 liters (about 85 ounces for us here in the US) per day. On average, to hit this amount, you’ve got to drink upwards of 100 ounces of water a day.

If that seems like a high target, get yourself a reusable water bottle that’s at least 20 ounces. It’s easier to track how much you drink with this versus using different sized cups all day. Free apps like My Water also make tracking your intake a breeze.

Apple cider vinegar with lemon juice.

Apple cider vinegar contains high levels of acetic acid. Lemon juice contains high levels of citric acid. Put them both together and you’ve got what some folks call one of the best recipes for tackling kidney stones at home. Simply mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and the juice of half a lemon in 10-12 ounces of water. Drink once a day.

And while anecdotally this drink shows some benefit, the jury is still out on if apple cider vinegar and lemon juice can actually dissolve kidney stones. The good news though is that drinking this concoction daily does appear to help prevent the stones forming in the first place.

If you do drink these, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, use organic whole lemons. Conventionally grown lemons are treated with imazalil, a fungicide that’s been labeled as “likely to be carcinogenic” by the EPA. Second, limit the amount of apple cider vinegar you drink each day. Drinking too much can cause low potassium levels—something you definitely don’t want if you’re susceptible to kidney stones.

If you’re interested in seeing the latest research on apple cider vinegar’s effect on kidney stones, keep an eye on this clinical trial.

Start taking black seed oil.

Black seed oil (Nigella sativa) is known for helping with a laundry list of chronic health issues like cancer, liver disease, diabetes, and even obesity. Turns out, it looks like it may actually be pretty darn good at helping with kidney stones as well.

In a 2019 randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial, stone size decreased in over 50% of those taking black seed capsules. In the placebo group only about 11% had a decrease in stone size. Another fun fact from this study? Stone size remained unchanged in just 4% of those taking black seed. Almost 58% of the placebo folks saw no change in stone size.

While this is only one study, it definitely is promising. And with black seed oil now readily available online and in most natural food stores, it’s worth giving it a shot. Like any other food or substance you put in your body though, pay attention to the quality. (I love this black seed oil from the amazing folks at Pure Indian Foods.)

Drink pomegranate juice.

Oxidative stress has been linked to developing kidney stones. Antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress, so focusing on foods high in these free radical fighting compounds can be a smart strategy to add to any home remedies for kidney stones.

When we think of antioxidant-heavy foods, things like dark chocolate, green tea, or red wine usually pop into our heads. With 2-3 times more antioxidants than those, pomegranate juice should be at the top of that list.

Look for organic, unsweetened, 100% juice. The best one I’ve found is Organic Pure Pomegranate from Lakewood. It checks all the boxes and isn’t even from concentrate. It’s just the fresh-pressed juice from 8-10 pomegranates.

If juice isn’t your thing—they are all pretty high in sugar—try capsules. Same rules apply here though, look for one that doesn’t contain a bunch of fillers and preferably uses organic pomegranates.

Try hydroxycitrate.

When it comes to home remedies for kidney stones—or treatment of kidney stones in general—one of the most exciting things to come along recently is hydroxycitrate. As a matter of fact, it’s the first new potential treatment for kidney stones in the last 30 years.

A derivative of citric acid, this promising treatment for kidney stones is available as an over-the-counter supplement and is normally used as a potential way to boost weight loss. However, researchers have found that hydroxycitrate could be incredibly effective at not only preventing kidney stones, but dissolving existing ones as well. This is exciting since, short of extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, there isn’t currently a way to actually dissolve calcium oxalate stones.

Bookmark this clinical trial to keep an eye on more research currently being done now on the effectiveness of hydroxycitrate.

Drink more coconut water.

A common treatment option for calcium oxalate stones is potassium citrate. Unfortunately,  it’s relatively expensive and can have unwanted side effects. These possible side effects include upset stomach and diarrhea all the way up to more serious issues like feeling like you might pass out, uneven heartbeat, muscle weakness, severe stomach pain, bloody stools, or coughing up blood.

Unsurprisingly, getting folks to stay on their potassium citrate prescription can often be challenging. Thankfully there’s another alternative.

Coconut water may be effective in increasing urinary citrate, urinary potassium, and urinary chloride. It should be noted that this study was done in healthy subjects, with no history of forming stones. Regardless, coconut water is possibly a viable treatment alternative to potassium citrate—without the potentially uncomfortable side effects.

With more and more research looking at these treatments, these home remedies for kidney stones are promising for both prevention and potential treatment of existing stones. If you have a history of forming stones, it’s definitely worth seeing if any of these work for you. As always, keep in mind that passing a kidney stone can go sideways and cause more serious issues. So make sure your doctor is a part of whatever treatment or prevention plan you want to try.

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