How to Prevent Kidney Stones Naturally | Chris Kresser
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How to Prevent Kidney Stones Naturally

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Kidney stones are painful, but natural prevention is possible. Monkey Business Images/Monkey Business/Thinkstock

This is a guest post by Laura Schoenfeld, a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Public Health, and staff nutritionist and content manager for ChrisKresser.com. You can learn more about Laura by checking out her blog or visiting her on Facebook.

Anyone who’s had a kidney stone will tell you that they’re one of the worst medical problems you can ever experience. Kidney stones are a common and painful chronic condition seen in otherwise “healthy” patients, and one of the most common disorders of the urinary tract. About a million people in the United States are treated for kidney stones each year, and the prevalence in adult men is almost 12% and around 6% in adult women. (1)

Stones are most common in caucasian adults between the ages of 20 and 50, and once someone develops a stone, they are far more likely to develop another stone in the future. Like most chronic diseases, the incidence of kidney stones has been increasing over the past 30 years. (2) This is likely due to the variety of dietary and lifestyle changes we’ve made as Americans which aren’t conducive to good health.

What Are Kidney Stones?

Stones can be formed from a variety of substances, but the most common stones are made of calcium and oxalate that has crystalized in the urinary tract. Other types of stones include struvite, uric acid and cystine. While stones themselves are painful enough, they can lead to more serious conditions such as obstruction of the urinary tract, permanent damage to the kidneys, and even life-threatening infections. I’ve seen patients in the hospital who have come in with necrotic kidneys due to obstruction from a stone, so this can become a serious condition if not managed properly.

Conventional medical professionals take a multi-pronged approach to treating kidney stones, including surgical removal, using shock waves to break up the stone into smaller, passable pieces, and various medications to prevent future stones from forming. There are a few conventional dietary guidelines for preventing future stone formation, but most of these guidelines are based on the composition of the stone, not the true pathology behind why the stone actually formed. After all, why do some people eat junk food, or foods with high calcium and/or oxalate content, drink barely any fluids, and never experience kidney stones, while I’ve had patients who eat healthy diets, drink plenty of fluids, and still develop stones?

Still getting kidney stones on Paleo? Read this for tips on how to avoid this painful condition.

While it’s difficult to know why one person is more prone to kidney stones than another, there are a few important strategies to help reduce your stone risk, whether you’ve had one before or you have a family history of stones. And not surprisingly, these aren’t necessarily the guidelines you’re going to hear from your typical nephrologist. (3) The following are my best tips for preventing kidney stones using simple diet changes.

Balance Your Fat Soluble Vitamins

This would be my top priority for any patient suffering from kidney stones, specifically calcium-oxalate stones. As many of Chris’s readers know, we require more than just vitamin D to properly metabolize calcium in our diets and in our blood, yet unfortunately, most nephrologists and dietitians never consider the role other fat soluble vitamins play in calcium metabolism. But vitamin A and vitamin K2 are two nutrients that are critical for balancing out the effects of vitamin D and making sure the calcium from our diet gets deposited into our bones and not into our arteries. (For more information about vitamin A, D, and K2, you can check out my review of a great book on the topic.)

In someone with kidney stones, vitamin A deficiency, vitamin K2 deficiency, and vitamin D excess are all prime suspects to be considered in terms of both absolute amounts and proportions between the vitamins. Chris Masterjohn, PhD has written volumes about the importance of balancing these three nutrients, and especially balancing vitamin A with vitamin D, as an excess of one will lead to a deficiency of the other. In fact, vitamin D excess is considered to be a risk factor for kidney stones in the conventional medical world, and studies show that people exposed to high levels of sunlight (such as lifeguards) are at higher risk for stones. (4, 5, 6, 7, 8) Interestingly enough, adequate vitamin A intake protects against excess vitamin D, as Masterjohn has made clear in his series on the topic.

Vitamin K2 may play an independent role in kidney stone development. As Masterjohn points out, “patients with kidney stones secrete [vitamin-K2 dependent] protein in its inactive form, which is between four and twenty times less effective than its active form at inhibiting the growth of calcium oxalate crystals, suggesting that vitamin K2 deficiency is a major cause of kidney stones.” While the research is still new, I think there’s no reason not to ensure adequate intake of these nutrients in your diet for health maintenance, and you might find it helps with preventing kidney stone formation.

So how can you get more vitamin A and vitamin K2 in your diet? For vitamin A you can eat plenty of organ meats like liver, egg yolks, and full fat dairy products. For vitamin K2, eat liver, grass fed dairy products like ghee, butter, and full-fat cheeses, or natto (if you’re adventurous). If you need to supplement, keep vitamin A around 5,000-10,000 IU per day and try to get these nutrients from a food-based source, such as the Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil from Rosita. Also, try to cut down on alcohol consumption, as excess metabolism of alcohol can impair your utilization of vitamin A, leading to deficiency. (9)

Add Lemon to Your Water

This is a natural treatment that conventional nephrologists have gotten right. While lemon water is often touted as a cleansing or alkalizing drink, the main reason it is helpful in reducing stone formation is its citric acid content.

Citric acid (not to be confused with vitamin C or ascorbic acid) inhibits stone formation and breaks up small stones that are beginning to form.(10) It works in a few different ways. Citrate binds with calcium in the urine, reducing the amount of calcium available to form calcium oxalate stones. It also prevents tiny calcium oxalate crystals that are already in the kidneys from growing and massing together into larger stones. It also makes the urine less acidic, which inhibits the development of both calcium oxalate and uric acid stones. (11)

You’ll need about a half a cup (4 oz) of lemon juice added to water throughout the day to get the same benefits as taking a potassium citrate pill, which is one of the standard pharmaceutical treatments for kidney stones. You can either take this all in one shot, or spread your intake of the lemon juice throughout the day. Try adding half a cup (or more!) of lemon or lime juice to a 32 ounce bottle of water and sip on it throughout the day. If you prefer, you can also try adding apple cider vinegar, which also contains citric acid and is an alkalizing addition to your beverages. (12)

Get Your Magnesium

Sometimes it seems like magnesium might be the cure for everything: muscle cramps, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, constipation, back pain, brain fog… it might even solve world hunger. I’m kidding of course, but magnesium is definitely one of those magic cure-all dietary supplements that seems to help with a great variety of maladies without much risk for toxicity. That’s why I, like Chris, believe everyone should take a maintenance dose of a magnesium supplement, since it’s hard to get adequate magnesium even in the healthiest ancestral diet.

However, it may surprise you to learn that there’s some research suggesting that magnesium can lower the risk of stone formation. (13, 14, 15) While scientists are still trying to figure out why magnesium has this stone preventing effect, and to determine which forms of magnesium are the most effective at preventing stones in humans, I think it’s safe to say that if you suffer from kidney stones, you’d be smart to ensure that your magnesium intake is adequate.

There are a few ways to up your magnesium intake. The easiest is to simply take at least 400 mg of magnesium in supplemental form on a daily basis. The best types to take are the chelated forms such as magnesium citrate and magnesium malate, as they’re well absorbed. You can also increase your dietary intake by eating pumpkin seeds, spinach, swiss chard, and nuts like almonds and cashews. Be sure to soak your nuts and seeds before eating them, which will help make the magnesium more available. Some people have reported benefits from taking epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) baths, as magnesium is able to be absorbed through the skin.

Whatever your method, just make sure you’re getting it daily in adequate amounts, since at least 50% of Americans have magnesium deficient diets, consuming less than 400 mg per day. (16) And coffee, a common “paleo” treat, may actually cause magnesium deficiency so be careful not to overdo it in the mornings.

Moderate Your Salt

In Chris’s great series on salt, he explains how excess salt consumption can promote stone formation in those who are susceptible:

“Those who are prone to kidney stones may need to reduce their salt intake, as high sodium excretion also leads to a higher level of calcium excretion in the urine. Evidence on this topic is mixed, but it has been demonstrated that excess sodium intake is associated with increased urinary excretion of sodium and calcium, and subjects who consumed the highest levels of sodium tended to have the greatest urinary calcium excretion. Higher calcium excretion may lead to kidney stone formation, particularly if fluid intake is inadequate.”

So even if you’re eating a diet low in processed foods, you may still be taking in a lot of salt through food items like cured meats (e.g. bacon), canned or preserved foods, fermented condiments like pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi, or simply by adding a lot of salt to your food. While some salt is good, eating tons of bacon and few plant foods is likely going to push you over your sodium needs without matching that sodium intake with potassium, a crucial electrolyte that can actually eliminate the negative effects of excess sodium. So make sure if you’re eating lots of high salt foods that you’re getting in plenty of good sources of potassium, such as bananas, leafy greens, squash, white potatoes, and avocado.

Eat More Carbohydrates

Another problem that people on a run-of-the-mill Paleo diet might encounter is an inadequate intake of carbohydrate. While carbohydrate is not an essential macronutrient in the most basic biochemical description, a very low carb diet can lead to profound health problems in certain individuals, such as depressed thyroid function, nutrient deficiencies like scurvy, and even insulin resistance. Many people eating a Paleo diet tend to eat lower carb simply because of the nature of the ‘banned’ foods being higher in carbohydrate, such as grains and dairy.

While eating Paleo does not equal low carb, it’s a common situation, especially if someone is new to the diet and doesn’t understand that foods like white potatoes are okay for most people to eat. (In fact, it might be good to alternate sweet potatoes with white potatoes regularly, since sweet potatoes are very high in oxalate which could contribute to stone formation!)

Paul Jaminet, PhD has written a great deal of information about the dangers of carbohydrate restriction, and kidney stones is one of them. While I won’t go into the great detail about why very low carb (VLC) diets can increase the risk for stones (you can read Jaminet’s article for that), the issue is likely due to the fact that VLC diets (<15% of calories from carbohydrate) make the urine more acidic due to the excessive amount of protein metabolism, potentially leading to uric acid stone formation. Generally, this is more of an issue on ketogenic diets, but is a risk for anyone whose diet and exercise routine requires a significantly high level of gluconeogenesis (i.e. forming glucose from amino acids/protein). A high protein diet with adequate carbohydrate intake, contrary to popular belief, will not necessarily increase your risk of stones, unless you already have underlying kidney disease. (18)

In addition, per Jaminet, the degradation of oxidized vitamin C is a likely contributor to the development of stones by increasing oxalate excretion. So if you’re not getting enough vitamin C in your diet and your vitamin C needs are increased on a low carb diet, you may be unintentionally contributing to stone development.

Jaminet recommends a minimum of 20% to 30% of energy intake coming from carbohydrates. (18) For a moderately active woman eating 2,000 calories per day, that’s 100-150 grams of carbohydrate from fruits, starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, white rice, and some dairy if tolerated. For a moderately active male eating 2600 calories, they might need more like 180-200 grams of carbohydrates per day.

As activity level and calorie needs increase, you’ll need to increase carbohydrates appropriately to support glycogen stores and activity levels. If you’re eating a low carbohydrate diet (less than 15% of calories per day) and getting kidney stones, I would reconsider your carbohydrate intake and try bumping it up. If you’re eating low carb and have never dealt with kidney stones, then you might be alright staying low carb – it’s up to you to decide!

Reduce Fructose

On the flip side of eating enough carbohydrates, make sure you’re not getting the majority of your carbohydrates from fructose. As Chris mentioned in his article about gout, research has shown that higher intakes of fructose may mediate many of the abnormalities seen in the metabolic syndrome, including elevated triglycerides, due to increases in uric acid production. (19) High levels of fructose intake not only produces excess uric acid, but it also reduces its excretion in the urine. (21)

While fructose in naturally occurring amounts is relatively benign, fructose is commonly found in our food supply as a sweetener, and is often touted as a natural additive to certain foods. One of the biggest culprits in someone eating a “natural” diet is agave syrup, which is advertised as a low glycemic, naturally occurring sweetener derived from the agave plant. However, its fructose content can range to as high as 90%, compared to high fructose corn syrup which contains about 45-55% fructose!

So while fructose from fruit is generally fine, make sure you’re not using high fructose sweeteners like agave or drinking high quantities of fruit juice. And it should go without saying that soda and other HFCS-sweetened beverages should never touch your lips, regardless of your kidney health!

Conclusion

As you can see, eating a comparatively healthy Paleo or ancestral diet does not guarantee you won’t be immune to kidney stones. While the standard American eating big macs and drinking a liter of cola every day might be at a much higher risk, it’s easy to miss out on some of the key nutrients you need to prevent stones from forming if you’re not eating a varied diet with emphasis on nutrient dense foods. If you do have kidney stones, try following the tips above and see if your stones reduce in size or possibly even disappear!

Now you tell me – have you made dietary changes to successfully prevent kidney stones? Share your recommendations in the comments below!

162 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. Does anyone know if cherry powder or cranberry powder lower uric acid levels?

    I like the idea of using powders because they don’t contain tons of sugar, and they’re easy to add into a smoothie. I can probably find high quality, organic powders that use some kind of flash-freezing process to preserve the nutrients in the fruits.

    I’ve had elevated uric acid levels in my lab tests over the past year (9.0, 7.6, and then 8.7) without any gout symptoms, but I’m only 26. I’d like to nip this in the bud, as my Dad has been suffering from gout for the past 15 years.

  2. I think this is an excellent and informative diet, and I believe the supplements are important. I do believe stone formers ( like myself) should pay careful attention to diet and the kinds of foods they eat. It was determined that I formed Oxalate stones. All my regular foods contained oxalates. Be careful. I eliminated these high Oxalate foods and was still able to continue on a Paleo diet, and my stone formation is much less. Examples of high Oxalate are almonds, carrots, spinach, strawberries and cinnamon!

  3. I used food grade citric acid to dissolve kidey stones.
    i added a tablespoon to 8oz of water, with alot of stevia, to make it a little more tolerable to drink.
    i then drank about a quart of water.
    you might get a little biy of a stomach ache, but it goes away after a while.
    I repeated this 6 hours later. It alleviated the pain and the blood in my urine.
    I got the food grade citric acid in a health food store locally. It is a cannibg agent , so it should be readily available.

  4. I’m baffled. This article is very informative, and I listened to Chris chat with Robb on an older podcast, was great to get their perspectives on all this… all that aside. I just passed my first one yesterday, never have felt this sort of pain before in my life, gees! I have sub-clinical hypothyroid (I had been treating it for years, my levels have improved significantly, hence sub-clinical), which caused me to have low vitamin d, and low iron storage. But high calcium (I’m assuming because of the lack of absorption due to lack of vitamin d), which I’m guessing is behind my stone… whom I shall name Oliver.

    Anyone experience similar scenario? I don’t know yet what kind of kidney stone(s) I had, I just hope to prevent it in the future.

    • If I understand, you have low vitamin D, high calcium, kidney stone and you are hypothyroid? You might want to have your HyperParathyroid checked by having a blood serum calcium and a PTH (Parathyroid hormone) test. It is crucial, it is a serious condition which will only get worse if you have it. Most doctors are not familiar with this disease and how to accurately diagnose it so you must do research. Hope you do not but better safe.

      • thank you moe, I’m definitely going to look into it. i’ll talk to my doctor and see if a test would be in order. when i was in the hospital for the kidney stone, they informed me that my calcium levels were actually normal. (this was about a year after my previous calcium results) i’m hoping this is a good sign? thanks very much!

  5. In the past 6 months I have increased the amount of lemon juice to 4oz a day in water. I have now taken 2 trips and had no KS attacks. In the past few years, every time I took a trip I would get symptoms of kidney stones. I but organic pure lemon juice by the case.

    B6 may help reduce Ca oxalate stone formation in women. I may start taking B6 as P-5-P. http://jasn.asnjournals.org/content/10/4/840.long I have not seen a more recent study.

  6. I began LCHF Feb this year, never had kidney issues before, no family history. 9 months later I have a 6 mm stone obstructing the left ureter, plus another 6 mm stone not obstructing but in the batters box in the right kidney. I can find several suggestions in the article where I am possibly deficient, including introducing back some good carbs. I think I have been too VLC. But that’s another topic.

    My question is; is it possible I could have accumulated these stones since going LCHF this past Feb, it seems a short period of time, or is it more likely these stones have been forming for years?

    • Unfortunately there is no way of knowing of the LCHF diet caused them, or they were already forming. I recently had a kidney stone removed. Here is what I have learned from my urologist: drink 120 oz of water a day, plus 1/2 of pure lemon juice diluted in water, that was it. Same recommendation from two different surgeons.

    • Always hard to know in any one case, especially if you don’t know the type of stone. For myself, I form “gravel” in the kidneys, then later it’s gone, as shown by ultrasound. I will get symptoms of obstruction. If I drink lots of water, they clear up in a few days. I mean, almost intolerably large amounts for those two or three days.

      Perhaps you need more water because of the diet, possibly the fiber aspect.

    • I realize this is an old question, but maybe it will help someone else who is looking for answers – stones can form in a very short time period. There was a study done on military folks serving in desert countries, they formed in as little as three months.

  7. Both times I’ve been cursed with kidney stones, was during a very stressful time in my life. During both times, I was not drinking enough water and was getting dehydrated. With my last stones a yr. ago, my doctor took me off of oxolate foods, and upped my dosage of diuretics. I also juice 1 lemon per day (drinking it with a straw) adding 1 cup of water & some Crystal light for flavoring & sweetness. I’ve been drinking at least 3 pints of water per day. It is working. Cut down on my fresh spinach & nuts.

    • @Gina
      Avoid “Crystal Light” as it contains aspartame. If you research aspartame, I believe you will never let it pass your lips again. A good video is “Sugar, The Bitter Truth” which is available in both short and long versions on the net. Or, just search “aspartame, health hazards.”

  8. I certainly appreciate all of the information available! That said, there is limited information on lowering oxalates. I would certainly love more information and suggestions as to how I can incorporate this with treating Rosacea which has a lot of limiting dietary restrictions as well.

  9. I am a 40 yr old, slim female– I’ve only had two stones in my entire life– once, at 25, when I took a bunch of vitamin C to stave off a cold, and once, last year, when I took 1000 iu Vitamin D/most days for about two weeks (in a failed attempt to drive up my vitamin d levels, which I had tested and were low– 21). I saw the last stone (but unfortunately didn’t catch it to analyze) but from its appearance can say it was consistent with the look of calcium oxalate stones.

    Since my stone incidents are specific to these two vitamins, I am unsure if I have a problem with oxalates in general. Recently, I have been downing those trendy green juices loaded with spinach and drinking raw cacao (as per the New York Times article last week raving about the benefits). Then I read a comment about oxalates in spinach and recalled my horrible stone incidents, so I cut those out. But should I be following a low oxalate diet? I checked out the facebook groups and those people are serious– I am not sure I need to limit my consumption to that level (other than cutting out od’ing on very high oxalate items) if it hasn’t otherwise caused a problem.

    My other issue is vitamin D– I don’t want to miss out on the benefits. I would just sit in the sun, but I specifically did that for two weeks prior to my D test (a sun-filled vacation in Portugal) and I still tested very low. But I am absolutely terrified of trying vitamin D in any dose again– the stone, even though relatively small and passable– was horrible.

    I’ve read various things online– including that vitamin D has no impact on stones– in fact I got into a tit for tat with the Vitamin D council site over this. While this may be true for the majority of people, it was a direct cause and effect in my situation, period. I’ve read (here and elsewhere) that the stone causing action of vitamin D can be tempered by A, K, and/or magnesium, but then I’ll read other conflicting advice elsewhere.

    I am wondering if there is any safe dose of vitamin D for me to try (and with what supplements) without risking stones.
    My doctor is not any help at all– he basically said it’s impossible to know (since we didn’t test the stone) so drink more water. He also doesn’t believe in supplements.

    • Hey Gen,

      The scenario you described with vitamin D causing stones can happen. Vitamin D’s role is to allow the gut to absorb calcium. If you were taking vitamin D during mealtime then the gut was absorbing more calcium making it less likely for calcium to bind with dietary oxalate. In other words, more free oxalate was allowed to be absorbed from food.

      Taking a calcium supplement like calcium citrate or even magnesium citrate 20 minutes before a meal (without vitamin D) will bind with dietary oxalate. Taking vitamin D away from mealtime should prevent any further problems with stone forming.

      • Recommending a calcium supplement to decrease kidney stone formation is insane. I ended up with kidneys full to the brim with kidney stones BECAUSE of a calcium supplement. PLEASE consult with your doctor (urologist) before taking any type of calcium supplement.

        • That is exactly how I got my kidney stones, by taking Calcium Citrate. Three surgeries later, and I have one stone on the side that I did not have the procedures on. Drinking, tons of lemon water, 4 tblsp of apple cider vinegar and praying, I pass this small stone on my own. Don’t take calcium supplements!

    • @Gen
      There is a Dr. at U. of Wisconsin who is known as “Dr. Vitamin D”. Easy search.
      If your present physician “…does not believe in supplements…”, I would consider finding another physician!

      Additionally, why are you so SURE, that A and D caused your stones?

      In the article preceding these comments it covers how important a BALANCE of A, D, and K is.

  10. I am sorry but I am confused, you say that magnesium is good for stones and you also say “You can also increase your dietary intake by eating pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, and nuts like almonds and cashews” but there have very high Oxalate content and should be avoided at all costs if you have stones.

    • Rose, I eat much more oxalate than I used to. The attacks frequent attacks I had (every 2 years from age 25 to 42) ended when I cut back on dietary carbohydrates in 2005. And my stones were calcium oxalate. I think oxalate in the diet is only a problem if you also have calcium dysregulation. Eating fat doesn’t make you fat, storing fat does. Eating oxalate doesn’t necessarily give you stones, nor does eating calcium. Other factors make compounds deposit where they’re not supposed to. Since cutting carbs, my dietary calcium goes into my bones rather than stones.

      • There is NO way adding oxalates to your diet STOPPED you from forming oxalate stones. It could have been anything that stopped you from forming them over the years, but I am guessing you might have upped your water intake as well and are thinking it was your diet instead.

        Again PLEASE consult with your doctor (urologist) before adjusting your oxalate levels. Oxalates CAUSE kidney stones, this is a commonly known fact, and the reason your Dr puts you on a high liquids, low oxalate diet to combat (oxalate) kidney stone formation.

        • Oxalate cause kidney stones and other problems ONLY if there isn’t sufficient and the correct bacteria in the gut to break them down.

          Also oxalates can be produced endogenously, which is another novel and has nothing to do with dietary intake.

          • Not to mention cause severe joint pain. I was eating alot of Spinach and my elbows were killing me. I stopped eating the spinach and within a week the pain was gone! I get Oxalate stones and have been taking 400 mg Magnesium for about a year now and have not had any stones (YET)

      • Oxalates, if not broken down by degrading bacteria, cause calcium dysregulation, not the other way around.

  11. When I was a vegetarian eating a lot of tofu about 12 years ago I started to develop kidney stones. Then my husband started to develop kidney stones. We stopped eating tofu and all soy and that alone stopped our kidney stone attacks. We are not vegetarian anymore and feel amazing on a WAPF friendly diet. I would pause before eating raw spinach due to the oxalic acid.

  12. With all the talk about types of magnesium can anyone tell me if anyone has had problems with magnesium taurate?

  13. I have uric acid stones and can’t seem to stop forming them. Despite going on a low purine diet including eliminating meat to 6 ounces or less a day or none at all, drinking large amounts of water to keep my urine clear, putting lemons in my tea and lemon in my water I still had another one get stuck and have several in both kidneys according to a CT scan. I seem to have more stones after I started the low purine diet than I did previously. I’ve also lost 25 pounds and near what what my weight should be.

    I’m now taking Potassium Citrate (Urocit-k) which makes me feel terrible but not as bad as the kidney stones.

    Reading on the internet someone recommends one thing and someone else recommends something else, realizing there are different kinds of stones needing different treatments I’m at a loss to know what else to do?

    There doesn’t seem to be enough research on kidney stones although it seems to be at a epidemic level with the number of people who get them. Drug companies of course don’t go for herbal cures although there may be a good herbal solution but who does official clinical trials with herbal cures?

    Obvously there is a cause to the stones, uric acid in my case, I did have gout (also uric acid related) but since I’ve cleaned up my diet I’ve not had a gout attack in several years.

    I have to wonder why I’m starving my self by not eating hardly anything and if it is really even doing any good?

    I did drink cokes heavily for many years, I wonder if that caused the damage that is causing my problems now? I never drink soft drinks anymore, only water or tea but now I have stones. I didn’t have any stones when drinking the cokes but I don’t think drinking cokes again is a good solution as some might suggest.

    I

    • Teas are very high in oxalates and CAUSE stones. Herbal teas = lowest oxalates in general and black tea = highest, but there is really no way to tell bc it varies from tea crop to tea crop. So if you have ever had a kidney stone I would stick to water, lemonade/lemon water and clear liquids.

    • My husband has gout and he now takes allopurinol daily to keep his uric acid levels in check which reduces the risk of future gout attacks as well as the formation of uric acid stones. It is the one drug that I am aware of that can prevent kidney stones…but only uric acid based stones. I have have had several kidney stones but they are calcium oxalate based. I was told that in addition to drinking 2 to 3 liters of water a day that I should not drink beer, tea, or colas (phosphoric a is the expected culprit) and I should limit my intake of animal protein. have you considered a 24 hour urinalysis?

    • There have been studies done by Universities on citric acid which is a natural substance. There is a product on the market called Stone Away. The main ingredient is citric acid. Here is an article from the University of Wisconsin Health https://www.uwhealth.org/files/uwhealth/docs/pdf/kidney_citric_acid.pdf
      I’ve found that Stone Away is less expensive than buying and chopping up lemons or buying lemonade and there are other kidney-helping herbs included in it’s ingredients.

  14. In an earlier post I said that I was drinking lemon water every day and it seemed to be helping. For a year I was getting bouts of kidney stones about once a month. Then I started the lemon water and none for the past 13 months…until 2 weeks ago. Now I have had two attacks!

    I have noticed that every one of my episodes is related to travel so I figure that dehydration plays a large role in these. I don’t know the composition of the stones as I have never caught one. Yes, I have a filter but I am usually away from home.

    I thought I had these stones beat with lemon, extra mg, K2. Think I will check into the fermented cod liver oil for the vitamin A.

    • Hi Anne, sorry to hear you had another stone. Thank you for your feedback for the rest of us trying to find the right combo that works for us to prevent stones. Would you mind saying how many ounces of water a day you are drinking, and how much D & K2 you take? Thank you, hope you have a pain free Holiday.

      • I have never measured the amount of water I drink at home but probably at least 60-70oz. I weigh 120lbs. I take 1mg K2 and take 3000IU of D. My recent D test was 35ng/ml so I am not high. I was talking both Mg taurate and Mg citrate. Ran out of the citrate. Wonder if that is making a difference. Thanks JT, only some soreness today. Getting better.

        • Hi Anne,

          Glad to hear you are getting better. Thank you so much for sharing your information. I am 190 lbs. I was taking the same K2/D, plus 10,000 IU of A until I found I had a stone, so now I have to figure out what I am going to do. Since my diagnosis, I dropped to only taking the cod liver oil/butter oil. My D test are around 45 ng/ml, I will be interested to see how they change after only taking the cod liver oil this winter. My stone is about 1 cm, so I will have to have it removed. My doc’s target water for me is around 96 oz a day, plus 1/4 cup lemon juice. I switched from magnesium malate to citrate, and added potassium citrate in small amounts. I will have to wait until I get rid of the stone to see what is going to work for me. I am interested in the gut bacteria that degrade oxalate. So I will be working that front as well. Happy Holidays.

        • You should gauge you hydration by urine output per day. You should aim for 2.5 liters of urine output every 24 hour period. For me to do this I need to be around 100 ounces of water a day. I am 5’2″ 130 lb female. Don’t worry about adding supplements (i.e. steer clear of most) until you get that output. Try to focus on adding whole foods that contain that vitamin over a supplement unless a blood test shows deficiency. Hope that helps.

  15. I’m doing a Paleo Keto/AIP blended version with no fruit to boot. It’s very low carb, but I’m eating plenty of vegetables with my meats.

    I surely hope that I don’t get any kind of stone from this and your article is helpful for me and confirmed my intuition and hair analysis to take a good multivitamin – Thorne Basic Nutrients IV – to cover these things you mentioned here. I actually go through periods on this where I crave lemon juice and totally enjoy it!

    I’m doing this for bipolar disorder and there is evidence that a strict keto diet can be helpful in stabilizing mood and calming the nervous system from seizures which I have from time to time. Seems to be helping so far and we are also addressing my low thyroid with Nature Thyroid and low adrenal function with herbs and of course no caffeine/alcohol.

    I’ve never eaten so strictly in my life, and feel I’m on the right track so I’m going to see this through for a while before I start adding back in carbs and starches.

    • As long as you stay hydrated you don’t need to worry about stones in general unless they run in your family or you have had a prior attack. Sounds like you are eating healthy so just stay hydrated and congrats on taking a natural approach to try to help yourself! I would also recommend a regular exercise routine, it helps me the most with my mental health. 🙂 A whole health approach is always best so you are on the right track.

    • http://www.oxthera.com/products.php

      This looks like it might still be under development, but appears to be a “drug” that delivers Oxalobacter formigenes, the bacteria that digest oxalates.

      Here is a presentation on calcium oxalates and their roles in human disease from NYU. Of note, around slide 24 it talks about Ox. f. and other bacteria that digest oxalates, and also states that while almost 100% of children contain the necessary bacteria to digest oxalates, the number decreases to as low as 50% in healthy adults.

      Slide 27 shows a chart of which antibiotics kill off the important oxalobacter formigenes, and which do not.

      http://medicine.med.nyu.edu/nephrology/files/med_nephrology/attachments/Calcium%20oxalate.pdf

      • Slide 23 of the same presentation talks about fat malabsorption certain bile acids causing the intestine to be more permeable to oxalates.

        I don’t understand many of these mechanisms, but it seems it all comes back to the gut.

        Slide 19 talks about consuming calcium or magnesium with oxalates to form an insoluble complex in the gut. I am assuming this would be why dietary calcium is important in reducing oxalate stones?
        Does this mean that the cal or mag would need to be food based, or could it be supplement based?

        Thanks Laura, if you could shed some light on any of these interesting subjects in this article.

  16. Like most of the recent hot topics on the gut microbiome and chronic illness, it seems like from this link, that it may affect people with kidney stones. Now I want to know if a fecal transplant from someone without a family history of stones would prevent stones from forming in a person with chronic stones. It certainly gives hope.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20602988

  17. I had kidney stones a total of 3 times in my life and I was hospitalized all 3 times. My last episode was in 2002. I have found that when I reduced my intake of high fructose corn syrup products (soda) and started drinking water more regularly, my problem went away. I drink coffee almost every day. I have always eaten a high protein diet, so there’s not an issue there. My urologist told me years ago that the best practices to reduce or eliminate kidney stones was to drink more lemonade and have a beer from time to time. He must have been right, because I haven’t had any problems for at least 11 years now.

  18. Hi Laura,

    I would just like to ask if it is true that lemon or any citrus juice (like calamansi) has to be taken in its pure form to preserve its alkalinity, and that when you add water to it will lose its alkalinity and turn into acid? I am just curious about the science behind it if it is true.

    Thanks,
    Ricky

  19. A friend was recently diagnosed with Light Chain Deposition Disease. Do you know of any information about treating this with diet and nutrition interventions?