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18 Home Remedies for Kidney Stones

Publications International, Ltd.

According to an old fairy tale, a single tiny pea placed beneath 20 mattresses and 20 featherbeds was enough to keep the true princess awake throughout the night. In real life, a tiny pea-sized stone, lodged in one or the other of your kidneys, is enough to keep you not only awake all night but crying out in pain and gritting your teeth until you can get to a doctor for relief.

Kidney stones are deposits of mineral or organic substances that form in the kidneys. Approximately 10 percent of people develop kidney stones at some time in their lives. You're most likely to suffer stones if you are male, are 20 to 40 years old, or have gout. Men are four times more likely than women to get kidney stones, the theory being that female hormones prevent kidney stones from forming.

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Kidney stones also tend to run in families, so individuals with a close relative who has been through a stone episode should be careful. Most first-time victims are between 30 and 40 years old and are otherwise in very good health.

Like gallstones that go undiagnosed, kidney stones don't always cause problems. Kidney stones may be present for years and never produce symptoms. But when they grow large enough to block the flow of urine through the ureter (one of two tubes that allow urine to drain from the kidneys to the bladder), the pain can be excruciating. Symptoms include severe pain and tenderness over the affected kidney, frequent and painful urination, blood in the urine, nausea, fever, chills, and extreme exhaustion.

Diet may be a major contributor to why some people develop kidney stones. There are also simple lifestyle changes you can make to help keep kidney stones from forming. Read the next section for home remedies that will prevent the pain of kidney stones.

For more information about treating disorders of the kidney and gallbladder, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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Regular exercise can lower your risk of developing kidney stones.
Regular exercise can lower your risk of developing kidney stones.
Publications International, Ltd.

If you have been through a bout with a kidney stone in the past or think you might be a candidate for developing one, you should do your best to beat the odds by trying the home remedies listed below.

Drink more than your fill. Increasing your fluid intake should be your first step (and may be the only step needed) toward staying free of kidney stones. Six to eight 8-ounce glasses is the minimum amount you should drink every day. While water is always a good choice, other caffeine-free and nonalcoholic beverages count (although your doctor may caution you about drinking too much decaffeinated tea if you produce a high concentration of oxalates in your urine).

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Check it out. Sometimes, it's not easy to keep track of how much fluid you've taken in during the course of the day. That's why measuring your urine output may provide a better indication of your fluid intake. (Pharmacies generally carry measuring devices that fit right inside the toilet bowl.) During a typical day, your body should produce 40 to 45 ounces of urine.

Go easy on oxalates. Eating large quantities of fruits and vegetables provides you with lots of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients; however, some of these foods also provide oxalates, which you may need to go easy on if you have a tendency toward kidney-stone formation.

People prone to forming calcium-oxalate stones may be asked by their doctor to cut back on the following foods if their urine contains an excess of oxalate: Beets, chocolate, coffee, cola, nuts, parsley, peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries, tea, and wheat bran. But don't completely avoid these foods without first talking to your doctor. In most cases, these foods can be eaten in limited amounts.

"C" less. Although some regard it as a wonder vitamin, in very high doses -- more than 3,000 milligrams daily -- vitamin C can be a potential problem for those who tend to form kidney stones. That's because the body converts this vitamin to oxalate. If you have had a kidney stone, your safest bet is to get your vitamin C from foods, not high-dose supplements. (Vitamin C is essential -- the Recommended Dietary Allowance for men is 90 mg a day and for women, 75 mg a day -- so don't think of trying to go without it.)

Eat less meat and certain fish. Individuals who form uric-acid stones are usually found to eat diets high in animal protein. Animal protein can accelerate formation of uric acid and calcium in the urine, which may, in turn, cause stones to form. So try to moderate your meat intake.

Uric acid also forms when purines in protein foods are broken down. If you suffer from uric-acid stones, you also may need to cut back on protein, particularly foods high in purine. Some of these foods include anchovies, fish roe, herring, mackerel, mussels, sardines, and shrimp. Other foods high in purine to watch out for include beer, brains, heart, kidney, liver, sweetbreads, and wine. Of course, high-protein fad diets should also be avoided.

. One of the many benefits of regular exercise is that it facilitates the passage of calcium out of the bloodstream and into the bones. The result: stronger bones and less risk of stone formation. If you need one more reason to lace up those walking shoes, recalling the anguish of a kidney stone may be a great motivator.

Don't oversoothe your tummy. Some over-the-counter antacids are calcium based (indeed, some people use them primarily as calcium supplements). Check the label, and if the word "calcium" appears there, you may need to select another type of stomach medication (again, confirm this with your doctor).

Home remedies from your kitchen can also prevent kidney stones from inflicting their pain on you. Learn about these remedies in the next section.

For more information about treating disorders of the kidney and gallbladder, try the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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©2007 Publications International, Inc. The vitamin A in foods like carrots can bolster the overall health of your urinary tract.

When it comes to preventing kidney stones, what you should eat is just as important as what you should not eat. Read on for home remedies, in the form of foods and supplements found in most kitchens.

Home Remedies From the Cupboard

Bran flakes. Fiber helps get rid of calcium and oxalate in your urine, which cuts the risk of kidney stones. A bowl of bran flakes can give you 8 mg of fiber.

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Mesh strainer. If you are passing a kidney stone, doctors recommend catching it. Urinating through a mesh strainer is one of the easiest ways to trap your stone. Allowing your doctor to analyze the stone's content can offer clues about what caused your stones to form and give you more success in treating your stone problem.

Two-liter bottle. Many doctors recommend measuring your urine output if you are at risk for kidney stones. You should be urinating at least the equivalent of a two-liter bottle every day. Carrying a bottle to the bathroom with you may seem odd, but if you're having kidney stone trouble, knowing that your kidneys are functioning fluidly will ease your mind.

Whole-wheat bread. A couple slices of whole-wheat bread contain a good amount of magnesium, a mineral known for averting stones. One study found that people who got an adequate amount of magnesium stopped getting kidney stones altogether.

Salt. There's also a high correlation between kidney stones and salt intake. Limit your sodium consumption to no more than two grams per day.

Nettle leaf. Drinking plenty of water is the undisputed champion of kidney stone prevention. Some herbal teas, such as those made from the leaves of stinging nettles, may enhance the benefits of water by acting as natural diuretics.

The nettle leaf has a long tradition of safely promoting urination. By keeping water flowing through the kidneys and bladder, nettle helps keep crystals from forming into stones and washes bacteria away. It may also help maintain a kidney-stone-busting balance of electrolytes in the urine. Though further research is needed, drinking 2 to 3 cups of nettle leaf tea per day may help prevent kidney stones. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons dried nettle leaf with 1 cup hot water and steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

Dried nettle leaf should be stored in an airtight container, away from light and heat. It will last as long as a year if protected. You must either grow them in the garden or have a nearby source to harvest them from the wild. Keep fresh nettles in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Home Remedies From the Refrigerator

Carrots. Vitamin A is an essential ingredient for healthy kidneys. One carrot can give you twice your daily requirements for this kidney-friendly nutrient. Foods rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, pumpkin, winter squash, broccoli, and carrots.

Chicken. The B vitamins, specifically vitamin B6, are well-known stone fighters. Vitamin B6 keeps the body from building up excess oxalate. Too much oxalate is a major factor in kidney stone formation. Three ounces of chicken provide more than one-third of your daily needs.

Milk. Something to put in your strange but true file. Though calcium is one of the major minerals in kidney stones, recent evidence shows that not getting enough calcium can actually increase chances of getting a stone. The reason: When you have lower levels of calcium, your body produces more oxalate, which makes you more at risk for kidney stones. One study found that men who ate the most calcium had a 34 percent less chance of developing stones than those who ate the least amount of calcium. How much is enough? Meeting your recommended daily allowance, which for most adults is between 1,000 and 1,200 mg a day, the amount in about three glasses of milk, should do the trick.

Home Remedies From the Supplement Shelf

Vitamin A. As we've mentioned, Vitamin A is necessary for the overall health of your urinary tract. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin A for healthy adults is 5,000 international units, which should be easily met through a varied, balanced diet. However, if you get too much A, your body won't excrete the excess, and the buildup can be toxic. See your doctor if you are unsure how much A your body is getting.

Vitamin B6. Scientists have found that vitamin B6 may actually lower the amount of oxalate in the blood, thereby reducing the risk of stone formation. Magnesium, too, seems to be helpful in preventing stones. Your doctor may suggest a daily supplement of B6 and/or magnesium or a drug that combines the two. If you take a supplement of vitamin B6, don't take more than 25 milligrams a day.

Kidney stones, either as small as a peanut or as large as a walnut, can cause serious pain. By using the home remedies mentioned in this article, you can take better care of yourself and keep kidney stones from forming.

For more information about treating disorders of the kidney and gallbladder, try the following links:

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

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