Health & Wellness

5 Natural Remedies for Kidney Stones

I’m often asked for my top natural remedies for kidney stones. And people are usually surprised by my answers.

Fortunately, there are many relatively easy natural remedies for kidney stones. From making a few dietary swaps to drinking more water and even apple cider vinegar, there are several things you can do at home to help prevent the discomfort and sheer pain from kidney stones.

So, let’s learn all about kidney stones—what they are, what causes them, signs you have them, and, most importantly, the natural remedies you can use immediately to help avoid them in the first place.

 

What Are Kidney Stones?

In order to truly understand what causes kidney stones, their symptoms, and how to get rid of them, we must first discuss what they actually are.

Kidney stones, also known as urolithiasis, nephrolithiasis, or renal calculi, are hardened deposits of excess waste that form when your kidneys work to detoxify your blood to make urine. [1]

Kidney stones are made up of excess minerals and salt found in your blood that build up and stick together inside your kidneys.

Eventually, your kidneys attempt to flush out the stone via your ureters (the tubes that connect your kidneys to your bladder). But because these tubes are so small, it causes excruciating pain. Some have even said it’s worth than the pain caused by childbirth.

Kidney stones affect about 12 percent of the world’s population, and men are twice as likely to develop them as women. [2]

Most people experience their first incidence of kidney stones between the ages of 20 and 40. And it’s estimated that once you have a kidney stone, you’re 50 percent more likely to develop another with five years of the first one.

That means that half of the people who get a kidney stone will experience another within five years, making the likelihood of recurrence pretty high!

Because they tend to recur, those who suffer from them are interested in seeking natural remedies for kidney stones to help prevent them in the first place. In fact, that’s likely what led you to this article, right?

Before we get into some of the top natural remedies for kidney stones, let’s take a look at some of the specific bodily wastes that can cause them.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

As I mentioned above, kidney stones are made up of excess minerals and salt found in your blood. When your kidneys filter the wastes and fluid from our blood to make urine, that’s when the kidney stones form.

But what are the most common wastes that can cause kidney stones? Let’s take a look at the different types of stones. Why? Because knowing which kind of stones you’re prone to getting can help to inform the natural remedies that can work best for you.

Here are the top three types of kidney stones:

1. Calcium.

There are two common types of calcium that cause calcium stones: calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate.

Research has shown that 80 percent of all kidney stones are made up of calcium. [3] Of those, 50 percent contain calcium oxalate, 5 percent contain calcium phosphate, and 45 percent contain a mixture of both. [4]

2. Magnesium.

Magnesium stones account for about 10 to 15 percent of all kidney stones, with magnesium ammonium phosphate stones often being the culprit. These stones often occur in people with chronic bacterial urinary tract infections that produce urease. [5]

Why? Urease is an enzyme that turns urea into ammonium carbonate, which makes urine more alkaline. As a result, it binds with magnesium. Also, phosphate, which is less likely to break down in an alkaline environment, contributes to larger stone formation.

Interestingly, these types of stones are more common in women than men.

3. Uric acid.

Finally, the last major type of kidney stone is called a uric acid stone. Ironically, though, these stones aren’t typically due to having too much uric acid.

Instead, people with uric acid stones typically form them due to having too much acid in their urine. So, it’s really the opposite of what’s happening with the magnesium ammonium phosphate stone, which results from urine being too alkaline.

Uric acid stones account for anywhere from 3 to 10 percent of all kidney stones. [6] They’re typically caused from eating a diet very high in animal protein and reduced intake of water, which is known to sometimes cause low urine output. And when this happens, urinary PH levels can drop, which can cause stone formation.

As you may suspect, being opposite of the magnesium ammonium phosphate stones, which are more common in women, uric acid stones are more common in men. [7]

 

Now, before we move on, one thing must be said: Keep in mind that all of the minerals in your body balance each other. So, if you suffer from calcium-based stones, for example, it’s not always the case that you just have too much calcium in your body.

Instead, what may be causing those stones is the fact that you could have too much calcium in relation to the amount of magnesium in your body! And guess what? The opposite is true as well in regards to magnesium-based stones!

We’ll talk more about how to address this later on in the article, but it’s an important point to remember as you continue reading.

Top Signs of Kidney Stones

Regardless of the type of stones you may produce, the symptoms are often the same. Here are the top signs of kidney stones: [8]

  • Discomfort in the back, near the kidneys
  • Pain in the lower abdomen, back, or belly, ranging from feeling unwell to severe
  • Sudden attack of extreme one-sided pain, perhaps radiating toward the abdomen
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Blood in urine
  • Painful urination
  • Frequent and/or urgent urination
  • Genital pain or discomfort

Personally, I’ve even witnessed symptoms such as panic, insomnia, and/or anxiety.

5 Natural Remedies for Kidney Stones

The only way to really take advantage of the natural remedies for kidney stones is to first know what type of stones your body produces, so try to get them analyzed.

After all, kidney stones can result from a variety of situations, including diet, lifestyle, underlying medical conditions, or genetic factors.

Once you have your stone analyzed, speak with your physician about your current lifestyle, diet, and potential underlying medical conditions.

Here are a few natural remedies, based on your type of stone, that you can discuss with your doctor.

1. Adapt your diet accordingly.

As with all natural medicine, we must consider how everything starts with what you put into your body.

Taking a long look at your diet is a critical first step and the most important of all the natural remedies for kidney stones—regardless of your type of stone.

That said, dietary treatment does depend on your stone composition. So, let’s approach this first natural remedy by stone type.

Calcium-based stones: As I mentioned above, calcium-based stones are usually the result of having too much calcium in relation to magnesium. So, the first step would be to consume foods that have a solid calcium-to-magnesium ratio.

You’ll also want to avoid aluminum-based foods, such as baking powder, food additives, and many processed foods, since aluminum consumption has been linked to calcium-based stones.

Additionally, vitamin C is actually known to increase the amount of oxalate in your urine, so supplement carefully and avoid excessively high intake of vitamin C-rich foods.

Moreover, calcium-based stone development has been linked to eating a diet rich in refined carbs, alcohol, fat, high amounts of calcium, and animal protein.

In fact, did you know that eating a diet high in animal protein and low in plant protein can make you 20 percent more likely to develop kidney stones? [9]

 

Natural remedies for kidney stones - Dr. Pingel

 

In addition, if you’re prone to calcium-oxalate stones, you may want to limit your intake of high-oxalate foods, such as leafy greens, beets, potatoes, rhubarb, dark chocolate, and nuts. Or, at the very least, eat them in rotation so you aren’t getting too much at once.

I recommend eating them in rotation, since you’ll be missing out on some incredible benefits by cutting out many of those foods. In fact, you’ll be missing out on added fiber, which is shown to also decreases your risk of calcium-based stones. If this is your situation, talk with your doctor before making a decision either way.

Magnesium-based stones: For those who are concerned about the stones resulting from magnesium ammonium phosphate, consuming more acidic foods could help. Walnuts are actually a great naturally acidic food that contains numerous other health benefits as well.

To raise the acidity in your kidneys, consider drinking some 100-percent, unsweetened cranberry juice or incorporating more eggs, oats, or citrus fruits in your diet as well.

Remember, the ultimate goal here is to rid your body of the infection causing these stones. By focusing on plant-based foods and drinking plenty of water, you’ll support that effort.

Uric acid stones: Now, if you suffer from uric acid stones, you likely made a special note of the study above about animal protein. Here’s what that means …

Certain foods are high in a chemical compound called purines. The problem what that is this: Your body turns purines into uric acid!

So, if you’re prone to developing uric acid stones, you’ll want to avoid alcohol, bacon, veal, venison, organ meats, and shellfish—all of which are rich in purines.

You’ll also want to consume more alkaline foods, such as leafy greens, certain fruits, and nuts. Click here for a list of alkalizing foods.

2. Use apple cider vinegar.

Now, let’s talk about one of my absolute favorite natural remedies for kidney stones: apple cider vinegar, or ACV!

Studies have shown that daily consumption of vinegar reduced kidney stone recurrence—specifically for those who have calcium oxalate stones.

According to a 2019 study, this is largely due to the major bioactive component in vinegar, known as acetic acid. Acetic acid is believed to break down and even help dissolve kidney stones to the point that they’re easier to pass. [10]

One note of warning, though: ACV is known to help alkalize your urine, so if your stones are due to magnesium ammonium phosphate, you may want to avoid drinking too much ACV.

 3. Turn to nutritional supplements.

When we’re discussing the top natural remedies for kidney stones, we have to acknowledge the importance of nutrients in kidney stone management.

Keep reading to learn about a few of the most helpful nutritional supplements I’ve found for kidney stone prevention.

Calcium-based stones:
Vitamin B6

Believe it or not, studies have shown that taking vitamin B6 can help prevent kidney stone formation—particularly calcium oxalate stones.

In fact, one study revealed that women who took the highest amount of vitamin B6 were 66 percent less likely to develop kidney stones as those who took the least. [11]

Researchers believe this is due to vitamin B6’s ability to lower the urinary excretion of oxalate.

Personally, I recommend taking a B-complex vitamin, since it also helps to support your body’s stress response, which is always a much-needed benefit.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is another nutrient I recommend supplementing for those suffering from calcium-based stones. Here’s why: First, studies have shown that vegetarians are less likely to develop kidney stones than meat eaters.

Did you know that vitamin K is found in abundance in many green leafy vegetables? Additionally, vitamin K is involved in oxalate metabolism, so it’s worth discussing this potential supplement with your doctor.

Magnesium

If you suffer from calcium-based kidney stones, you’ll definitely want to take note of this supplement.

I’ve found that when it comes to natural remedies for kidney stones, magnesium plays a very important role. This is because magnesium actually helps to draw calcium out of your blood, which means there’s less calcium waste in your kidneys to contend with.

So, supplementing with magnesium has been shown to prevent recurrences. Moreover, taking magnesium and vitamin B6 has been shown to have an even greater effect.

Magnesium also supports vitamin D’s ability to aid bodily absorption of calcium. You may want to discuss calcium supplementation or inclusion of more calcium-rich foods along with magnesium supplementation, since low calcium levels are linked to stone formation due to its impact on oxalate.

See how all these minerals interact and depend on one another?

Magnesium-based stones:
Vitamin C

Now, before I jump into this supplement as one of the top natural remedies for kidney stones, it’s important to state that if you suffer from calcium oxalate stones, this is not the remedy for you!

Why? Too much vitamin C may cause you to form more stones. It’s important to check with your doctor for appropriate dosing.

But for those who suffer from magnesium ammonium phosphate stones, vitamin C can offer a lot of relief. And that’s because it increases the acidity of your urine.

The ascorbic acid in vitamin C has actually been show to not only help dissolve magnesium ammonium phosphate stones but even prevent their formation! [12]

Probiotics

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. When you’re suffering from magnesium ammonium phosphate stones, the biggest focus should be on killing the infection that caused the stone formation in the first place.

I’m a big believer in taking probiotics to help maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. And studies have shown that taking probiotics can help prevent urinary tract infections, showing that the benefits extend far beyond the gut. [13]

Click here to learn more about probiotics and how to choose the best one for your unique needs.

Uric acid-based stones:
Folic acid

If suffer from uric acid stones and you’re looking for natural remedies for kidney stones, you’re in luck. I’ve found that these stones are easier to treat than the other types.

One supplement that’s particularly useful is folic acid, or vitamin B9. Studies have shown that it’s incredibly effective in helping to reduce your levels of uric acid. [14]

In addition, speak with your physician about taking the supplements recommended above for calcium-based stones, as many also contain benefits for uric acid stones.

4. Incorporate herbs.

If you try all of the above natural remedies for kidney stones and are still suffering from them, you can turn to herbal remedies as well. Here are a few of my top herbal recommendations for those dealing with kidney stones.

  • Chanca (Phyllanthus niruri): Studies have shown that using this herb for 12 weeks increased the amount of magnesium and potassium in urine, which significantly decreased both urinary oxalate and uric acid! [15]
  • Gravelroot (Eupatorium purpureum): Due to its diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-calcium properties, gravelroot is commonly used to help prevent the formation of calcium-based kidney stones. [16]
  • Corn Silk (Zea mays): A 2012 study on 60 male patients revealed that corn silk increased urinary output as well as the passage of stones through the urinary tract. [17]
  • Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica): According to numerous studies, stinging nettle contains flavonoids, anthocyanins, and saponins, which actually help to inhibit the growth of calcium oxalate stones! [18]

5. Stay hydrated.

As we discussed above, low urinary output causes urinary PH levels to drop, which can cause stone formation. Accordingly, staying hydrated is incredibly important. Plus, diluted urine aids in helping you to pass any stones you already have.

Remember, the less you urinate, the more likely certain minerals can settle and bond in your kidneys, which can cause stones.

Try to drink at least half your body weight in water, as that amount is a great starting point to staying hydrated.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Fortunately, there are many relatively easy natural remedies for kidney stones.
  • But before you can take advantage of them, you must first know what type of stones you’re getting: calcium-based, magnesium-based, or uric acid-based.
  • Some of the top natural remedies for kidney stones include: adapting your diet based on your type of stones, using apple cider vinegar, using supplements, incorporating healing herbs, and staying hydrated.

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