Kidney stones are a familiar condition involving crystals forming within the kidneys, affecting some 12 percent of the global population. They have affected humans since at least 4,000 B.C., 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. 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 percent. Its prevalence has been on the rise in the past half-century, in part due to dietary and lifestyle changes.
A meta-analysis took this further and confirmed that water consumption was associated with a reduced risk of kidney stones. 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.”
2. Lemon Juice
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.
Of the 11 patients treated with lemonade, 10 showed increased urinary citrate levels. The therapy, therefore, appears as a reasonable alternative for patients who can’t tolerate first-line therapy, the researchers noted.
Citrate, a salt present in citric acid, binds to calcium and helps block stone formation. Citrus fruits and juices are known sources of dietary citrate, with lemon juice appearing to have the highest concentration of it. In a separate study, administering lemon juice to animal models inhibited increased kidney calcium levels and showed protective action against urolithiasis (kidney stones).
3. Omega-3 Fats
To test the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in certain stone formers, researchers evaluated the effects of supplementing with two types of omega-3s—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—on urinary risk factors for forming calcium oxalate stones.
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.
4. Orange Juice
Orange juice may hold therapeutic effects on stone-forming risk. 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.
5. Horse Gram
Horse gram, known as Kulattha in the ancient Indian wellness system of Ayurveda, emerged as superior to potassium in treating kidney calcification disease. This herb has been used since ancient times for kidney stones, cough, asthma, and piles, to name a few ailments.
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.
6. Vitamin E
In a 2004 study, vitamin E ameliorated oxidative stress associated with kidney stone formation among tuberculosis patients. 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 a live organism, rats in this case, vitamin E therapy prevented the deposits of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys by improving antioxidant status in renal tissues.
7. Evening Primrose Oil
Research 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.
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.
8. Black Seed
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 a placebo twice a day for 10 weeks.
In the black seed group, 44.4 percent of patients excreted their stones completely, with the size of the stones remaining unchanged. In the placebo group, 15.3 percent 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.