Affecting around 10% of the population of the world and most common in men between the ages of 30 and 40, kidney stones are a painful and often recurring issue that can last for weeks at a time. Stones are formed when high levels of calcium, sodium, uric acid (the same stuff that causes gout flare-ups), or other crystal-forming substances build up in the urine to levels which the body cannot properly eliminate. These substances gather and chemically bond to each other forming a stone inside the organ. Some kidney stones are very small and may be passed out in the urine with minimal or no symptoms. Others may grow quite large and eventually become lodged in the opening of the urethra – the tube that allows urine to pass from each kidney to the bladder. At this point the stones cause pain, frequent urge to urinate, nausea, vomiting, and excessive sweating among other things.
If you’re one of the unlucky 10% who has experienced kidney stones, or if someone in your family has gotten them in the past (kidney stones are hereditary), you probably want to read on to discover the top eight natural remedies for kidney stones that will help to prevent, alleviate the discomfort of, and break apart those nasty little rocks before they become a big problem.
1. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
It’s always a good idea to drink lots of water (use this calculator to find your daily requirement.) However, when you have kidney stones or if you think that you might be susceptible to them, it’s absolutely critical to keep adequate fluids running through your system in order to flush out the minerals and other substances that cause stones to form. If you don’t have the time (or patience) to measure and track your daily water intake, simply remember this general rule: The darker your urine is, the more water you need. When your urine comes out clear or close to it, you know you’re drinking enough.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
It’s on the “Top 10 Natural Ingredients” list for a good reason. Apple Cider Vinegar is an effective remedy for a long list of ailments, including kidney stones. Not only will ACV help to break apart and flush out stones, regular consumption of around 2 tablespoons per day can help to prevent future occurrences. Try an apple cider vinegar tonic first thing in the morning, again around midday, and a third time in the evening to reap the health benefits of this incredible natural remedy and get rid of your kidney stones at the same time. Simply mix 2 tablespoons of Raw Organic Unfiltered ACV (my favorite by far is this one by Bragg) with an all natural sweetener such as honey or Stevia powder and about 4 ounces of water.
(Further reading: 11 Reasons You Should Have A Spoonful Of Apple Cider Vinegar Every Day)
3. Lemon Juice + Olive Oil
While this method may not be suitable for people with larger stones, those with smaller kidney stones can try a concoction of lemon juice and olive oil to help break them apart and flush them out. Mix ¼ cup each of lemon juice and olive oil, drink, and follow up with at least 8 ounces of water. Just make sure you’re using only high-quality ingredients so you don’t accidentally introduce something into your body (like sucrose or high fructose corn syrup) that will worsen the condition.
4. Pomegranate Juice
A 2008 Study concluded that pomegranate juice prevents the formation of certain types of kidney stones. If you think you’re at risk for kidney stones, enjoy a serving or two of pomegranate juice every day. Not only will your kidneys thank you, pomegranates are also full of antioxidants that protect the body from damaging free radicals. What’s not to love?
Try it out for yourself. It’s best to make it yourself for freshness, but if you have neither the time nor inclination, you can also buy it ready made. I recommend Lakewood Organic Pomegranate Juice for flavor and purity. You can order it by the case (about a 2-week supply) from this page on Amazon.
5. Nettle Leaf Tea
While Stinging Nettle is most commonly used for joint support and to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms, it is also a powerful diuretic with anti-bacterial properties. Drinking two to three cups of nettle leaf tea per day will work wonders to flush minerals and toxins out of the kidneys, halt the growth of existing stones, and discourage formation of new ones, all the while helping to prevent urinary tract infections – another known cause of kidney stones.
Try this Organic Nettle Leaf Tea by Traditional Medicinals.
6. Vegetable Proteins
It’s a well-known fact that over-consumption of certain animal proteins can cause kidney stones. If you are prone to the condition, consider replacing some (not necessarily all) of the meats in your diet with vegetable protein sources. While a lot of people may groan at the idea of giving up their beef, pork, eggs, fish, etc – the excruciating pain of passing kidney stone after kidney stone might be incentive enough. Some excellent veggie sources of protein include green peas, chia seeds, quinoa, spirulina, almonds, beans, hummus, and of course soy. Just remember, you need approximately 50 grams of protein per day. If you plan to switch from meat to vegetable sources, you may want to first familiarize yourself with the protein contents of these foods.
7. Get Your Fiber
Many vegetable protein sources also have the benefit of being great sources of insoluble fiber – another effective remedy for halting the growth of existing kidney stones and preventing the formation of new ones. Insoluble fiber helps to reduce calcium in the urinary tract by binding to it in the intestines. Calcium passed through the stool means less of the mineral is available to crystallize in the kidneys. Some great sources of soluble fiber include whole grains, legumes, fruits, and green vegetables.
While many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, be aware that they may also contain high levels of oxalate which is one of the major causes of kidney stones. Read more about high-oxalate foods in this article by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
8. Kidney Beans
On a similar note (and somewhat ironically) Kidney beans – so called for their resemblance in shape and color to the same-named organ – are also great for clearing up kidney stones. Kidney beans are not only very high in fiber, they’re also a great source of non-animal protein, B vitamins, and minerals that improve urinary tracts and kidney health. To get the most out of your kidney beans, cook them in water (avoid meat broth, salt, etc) until they are tender enough to eat. Strain the liquid, let it cool, then strain it again. You can drink the resulting bean broth to help dissolve and flush out stones then eat the delicious beans themselves to boost your overall kidney health.