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October 18, 2010, Updated May 7, 2016

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Kidney stones are unwelcome and hugely painful intruders in
our bodies. Urological surgeons claim the pain of a kidney
stone is equivalent to the pain experienced during childbirth
or the fracture of a limb. Not surprisingly, a kidney stone can
leave grown men and strong women weeping - kidney stone
pain is unexpected and it can be terrifying.

Kidney stones are also common. According to the National
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the
National Institutes of Health, we make almost 3 million visits to
health care providers and more than half a million emergency
room visits for kidney stones each year. A 2013 study from
the University of Colorado School of Medicine estimates that
10 to 15% of all men and 3% to 5% of all women in the U.S.
suffer from kidney stones.

England’s National Health Service says 18,964 people had
hospital treatment for kidney stones in 2006 to 2007. Kidney
stones are one of the most common disorders of the urinary
tract. But is there anything you can do to prevent kidney
stones? Research suggests a number of lifestyle changes can
cut your risk of developing kidney stones. Does your diet
affect whether kidney stone pain will strike? And what natural
remedies help prevent kidney stones?

What Are Kidney Stones?

Your kidneys are two roughly four-inch, oval-shaped organs
found on both sides of the spine to the back of your stomach.
Kidneys get rid of waste from the blood to be eventually
expelled as urine and they filter clean blood back in. If waste
products build up in your kidneys it can result in kidney stones.

Calcium oxalate and other salts and chemicals in your urine
rise to dangerous levels. When this happens, crystals build up.
Kidney stones are the hard balls that develop when too many
crystals form.

Kidney stones are classified into four types: Calcium stones,
struvite stones, uric acid stones and cystine stones. Remember
that gallstones and kidney stones aren’t the same and if you’
ve got gallstones there’s no reason you will develop kidney

Causes of Kidney Stones

Experts are not always sure what causes a particular type of
kidney stone to form in one person’s body when it does not
form in another’s.

What doctors do know is you are more likely to suffer from
kidney stones if you have a family history of the condition.
Infections of the urinary tract can also cause kidney stones
and renal tubular acidosis, a hereditary disease, produces

Other factors that increase your risk, according to experts, are
obesity, inactivity, gout and blockage of the urinary tract. A
little known disease called
sarcoidosis also increases your risk
for kidney stones.

Moreover, according to a 2010 study from the University of
Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, if you take
hormone replacement therapy you increase your risk of
kidney stones. Researchers analyzed 10,700 post-menopausal
women taking estrogen or estrogen and progestin, or a
placebo. Those taking estrogen or estrogen combined with
progestin were 21 percent more at risk of developing kidney
stones in the follow-up period to the study.


Oxalytes cause kidney stones. The average American
consumes between 152 mg and 511 mg of oxalytes per day,
according to a 2015 study led by Dr. Alejandra Mena-
Gutierrez, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.  
This amount is much higher than 40mg to 50 mg
recommended by Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.]

Who Suffers Most From Kidney Stones?

The pain of kidney stones affects everyone equally but if you
are a man, you are two-to-three times more likely to have to
bear it. According to the British Medical Journal, 12 in every
100 men in the UK will suffer in their lifetimes compared to
four out of every 100 women. Caucasians are more likely to
suffer from kidney stones pain than African Americans.

And the bad news is if you’ve already had one kidney stone,
the chances are increased that you will develop another.
Kidney stones in the population are also on the increase. The
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases at the National Institutes of Health states that in the
1970s less than four percent of the United States suffered
from kidney stones and by the 1990s this figure had risen to
more than five percent.

What Are The Symptoms of Kidney Stones?

A kidney stone usually makes it presence felt suddenly,
producing no symptoms before the first extreme pain. This
happens because the stone is moving in the urinary tract and
blocking urine flow. The pain is typically sharp and felt in the
lower abdomen and kidney area. You may vomit or feel
nauseous and as the stone moves there may be blood in the

What Can You Do?

Although the pain of kidney stones can be extreme, if the
crystals are small enough you’ll pass them through your body
without surgery or procedures, with the aid or regular
painkillers. Most kidney stones leave the body in this way. If
the kidney stone damages the kidney or causes infection, it
will need to be removed. Surgery may be necessary if the
kidney stone doesn’t pass after a period of time, or if it is too
large to exit by itself. What can you do to move kidney stones
along naturally?

Here is a list of the Top 10 natural remedies for kidney stones,
based on medical research:

Drink Plenty of Water to Prevent and Remove Kidney Stones

Water is your best defense and offence against kidney stones.
If you already have a kidney stone, doctors will advise you to
go home and increase your intake of water to move the stone
along more quickly.

To prevent kidney stones forming in the first place, drink more
water. Dehydration is a major problem for your body. When
you’re dehydrated, the chemicals that are normally neutralized
by urine build up in your body and can form kidney stones.

Kidney stones are particularly common during the summer’s
hot spells due to increased levels of dehydration, especially
among people prone to developing stones.

Check your urine. If it's a light color, almost clear, you're fine.
Dark colored urine indicates a higher concentration of waste

You should drink a minimum of six to eight glasses of water a
day – more than this if you’re exercising or it’s hot. If you’re
prone to stones you should go for enough liquid to produce
two quarts of urine in 24 hours. Not all liquids are created
equal and water is what counts when it comes to preventing
kidney stones. Tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks can further
increase the risk of dehydration and you should limit your
intake of these beverages. Here is a
chart on urine colors and
what they mean to help you.

Drink Lemonade and Orange Juice to Prevent Kidney Stones

Every citrus juice contains citrate, a form of citric acid that
combines with calcium in your urine, leaving less calcium
available to form stones. Citrate also prevents crystal growth
and makes urine less acidic.

But scientists are undecided which citrus juice packs the
biggest punch. A 2006 study from the UT Southwestern
Medical Center found it was a daily glass of OJ that helped
prevent kidney stones the best. 13 volunteers were studied in
three phases: a distilled water control phase, an OJ phase,
and a lemonade phase.

Researchers found that 13 ounces of orange juice daily
increased levels of citrate and reduced the formation of
crystals whereas lemonade didn’t increase the levels of citrate
in the body.

However, orange juice also raises the levels of oxalate which
may increase the risk of kidney stones. On the side of lemons,
lemon juice has five times the amount of citrate than orange
juice in the first place and a 1996 study from the University of
California, San Francisco, found drinking two liters of
lemonade a day doubled the levels of citrate in the urine.

But Grapefruit Juice and Iced Tea Can Be Bad For Kidney

While orange juice and lemon juice gain positive reports for
the prevention of kidney stones, 240ml of grapefruit juice a
day was demonstrated in one 1998 study from
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts to
increase women’s risk of kidney stones by 44 percent.

Iced tea has also attracted negative press – this particular
refreshing summer drink contains high levels of oxalate and
according to Dr. John Milner at the Loyola University Chicago
Stritch School of Medicine, Illinois, “for people who have a
tendency to form kidney stones, it’s definitely one of the
worst things you can drink.”   

Stop Eating Oxalate-Rich Foods To Prevent Kidney Stones

Iced tea isn’t the only product high in oxalate that can cause
problems in people with a tendency towards developing
kidney stones. If you are prone to calcium oxalate stones your
urine will be high in oxalate, a key chemical for the
development of this type of stone. Limit your intake of oxalate
in order to minimize the risks.

What foods and drinks are high in oxalates? High-oxalate
foods include rhubarb, spinach, okra, Swiss chard and beets
as well as wheat germ, soybean crackers and peanuts.  

For those of you who are chocolate-lovers, it's time to weep.
Despite the many
health benefits of chocolate, chocolate can
cause kidney stones. Chocolate, black Indian tea and sweet
potatoes are also oxalate-rich. Food with a medium level of
oxalate number grapes, grits, celery, green pepper,
raspberries, strawberries and liver, according to the Oxalosis
and Hyperoxaluria Foundation.

Lower Your Calcium Levels to Prevent Kidney Stones

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