Kidney stones are one of the most painful things you’ll ever experience.
In fact, many people compare it to giving birth. And if you’re unlucky enough to be one of the 9 percent of Americans who experience them at some point in their lifetime, you’re unlikely to forget the excruciating and nauseating pain they cause.
Luckily, most stones will pass on their own… but not until they’ve put you through the wringer. But some can become large enough to completely block the flow of urine and require surgery.
That’s why arming yourself with ways to dissolve small stones before they do the most harm and — even better — preventing new stones from forming, is so important.
How to naturally dissolve small kidney stones
If you experience pain and your doctor determines kidney stones are to blame, size makes the difference as far as the treatment plan.
If your stones are small than 4 millimeters, they should pass on their own. If they are 4 to 6 millimeters, they may require treatment, but the majority can still pass on their own. You may be sent home with instructions to drink lots of water, take an over-the-counter pain reliever if needed and just wait it out.
But you might also consider trying the natural kidney stone busting power of diuretic teas.
Even many medical doctors recommend these teas since they’ve been reported (though not in peer-reviewed scientific literature) to help wash out or “dissolve” a kidney stone safely at home.
Diuretic teas to try include:
- Dandelion root
- Burdock root
- Uva ursi
- Stinging nettle
- Marshmallow root
- Buchu teas
Although the list goes on, these are a good place to start to find the ones that work best for you.
Another natural option to help dissolve small stones is to add alkaline-forming liquids to your diet. These include fresh lemonade, lime-aid, orange juice and apple cider vinegar — for the vinegar, go with two tablespoons per cup of water twice a day.
Just remember, since all of these are high in citric acid, you should also drink more water and focus on staying hydrated throughout your day. As a bonus, this added fluid also helps flush your urinary tract.
Kidney stone prevention
As I mentioned earlier, if you’ve ever had a stone, you never forget the pain that will double you over, drop you to your knees and have you begging for relief. And most people who suffer from recurring stones eventually recognize the important role their diet plays in kidney stone development.
This also means that you can use your diet to prevent stones.
Dietary factors that raise your risk of stones include:
- Not drinking enough liquid which allows minerals to precipitate into your urine
- High animal protein intake which increases calcium in your urine
- High intake of other foods such as table salt, refined sugar and phosphorus
By knowing these risk factors and avoiding them, you can reduce the number of stones you experience.
It’s also important to know what type of kidney stones you have (calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite or calcium phosphate) in order to keep them from coming back. If you don’t already know, the next time you have a stone, your doctor can test it to see what you’re up against.
In the meantime, it’s likely that you suffer from calcium oxalate stones since they make up 80 percent of kidney stones. Best dietary practices for these types of stones include:
- Drinking black tea and plenty of water
- Restricting animal protein and salt
- Getting adequate calcium (1,000–1,200 mg daily). Surprisingly, a low calcium diet can be a risk factor, but get it from food, not supplements.
- Increasing your intake of alkalizing vegetables
- Drinking more juice from citrus fruits like lemonade, lime-aid and orange juice
According to the National Kidney Foundation, it is important to know that kidney stones are more common if you have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). These conditions affect your body’s ability to absorb fats properly, and when fat is not absorbed it binds to calcium and leaves oxalate behind. The oxalate is then absorbed and taken to the kidney, where it can form stones.
Similarly, following gastric bypass surgery, your body absorbs less calcium from your digestive system. Because of this, higher levels of oxalate are found in the urinary tract. The buildup of oxalate can form crystals, which can form kidney stones.
For uric acid stones, it can also help to alkalize your urine with an over-the-counter supplement such as sodium bicarbonate, potassium citrate, magnesium citrate or bicitra (citric acid monohydrate plus sodium citrate dehydrate).
Just be sure to regularly test the pH of your urine using a pH test strip. You should aim for a morning urine pH of 6.5. And you also want to stay below 7, since a high pH increases your risk of calcium phosphate stones instead.
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- Kidney Stones, Kidney Health — Easy Health Options
- Prevalence of Kidney Stones in the United States — National Library of Medicine
- The Influence of Diet on Urinary Risk Factors for Stones in Healthy Subjects and Idiopathic Renal Calcium Stone Formers — National Library of Medicine
- Diet and Renal Stone Formation — National Library of Medicine
- Metabolism of Fructose to Oxalate and Glycolate — National Library of Medicine
- Urinary Phosphorus Rather Than Urinary Calcium Possibly Increases Renal Stone Formation in a Sample of Asian Indian, Male Stone-Formers — National Library of Medicine
- An Update and Practical Guide to Renal Stone Management — National Library of Medicine