If you've ever had a kidney stone, you know relief can't come too soon. Thankfully, in the case of uncomplicated stones, there are some natural remedies you can try that may relieve your symptoms.
Treating Kidney Stones With Natural Remedies
There are three main types of natural remedies used to relieve kidney stones.
Translated as "stone breaker" in Spanish, chanca piedra herb is a well-known, natural remedy for kidney stones.
Sage Press, Inc. reports that a study performed by the Paulista School of Medicine in Sao Paola, Brazil found that kidney stones were eliminated when both humans and rats were given chanca piedra tea for one-three months. In addition, their report cites an in vitro study which showed chanca piedra helped reduce the formation of calcium oxalate crystals that cause many kidney stones. Keep in mind that chanca piedra can affect blood sugar levels and interfere with diabetes medications.
According to Prescription for Herbal Healing: 2nd Edition by Phyllis A Balch, CNC (revised and updated by Stacey Bell, DSC), when a German physician gave chanca piedra to 100 people with kidney stones, 94 percent of them experienced the elimination of their stones within two weeks.
According to Readers Digest, Traditional Wisdom Rediscovered, once small stones have formed, drinking diuretic herbal teas may help flush them out. Some diuretic teas include:
- Marshmallow root
WebMD reports that "potassium citrate attaches to calcium in the urine, preventing the formation of mineral crystals that can develop into kidney stones." The site goes on to say that potassium citrate may specifically prevent calcium, uric acid, or cystine stones.
Potassium citrate is found in supplement form or in many foods including, but not limited to:
- Leafy greens
- Orange juice
- Citrus fruits
Purchasing Natural Cures for Kidney Stones
Diuretic Teas Readily Available
Diuretic teas, parsley tea, chamomile tea, lavender tea, and basil juice can usually be found at your local natural foods store or natural health store. If your grocery store has an extensive tea section, you may be able to find them there as well. Look for organic versions to avoid pesticides and other added chemicals.
Sources for Potassium Citrate and Other Remedies
Potassium citrate supplements, willow bark tea, and horsetail can also be found at most natural health stores or in the vitamins/supplement aisle of natural foods or grocery stores. If you can't find a local store that carries the items, you can order them online at the following sites.
- The Vitamin Shoppe offers a bottle of 300 potassium citrate capsules for about $12 plus shipping.
- You can buy packages of 25 - 200 willow bark tea bags from Tea Haven. A 25-bag package costs about $20 plus shipping.
- Purchase 100 Nature's Way capsules of horsetail grass for approximately $5.00 plus shipping.
Source for Chanca Piedra
Chanca Piedra may be a bit more challenging to find. Some natural health stores carry it, but you may have to order it online. Amazon sells a 90- count bottle of vegetarian capsules for about $30.00 plus shipping. They also offer it as a mineral supplement.
Changing Your Diet May Help
Following a specific diet may help prevent kidney stones from forming in the first place. The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC) recommends taking the following steps to help prevent kidney stones.
- Drink plenty of water, at least two to three liters per day.
- Reduce your sodium intake.
- Reduce your animal protein intake, such as meat, fish and eggs.
- Get adequate calcium through diet
In addition, the NKUDIC recommends eating a low oxalate diet to prevent calcium oxalate stones. Since oxalates are found foods, the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences recommend limiting your oxalate intake to 40 to 50 mg daily. To avoid going over this limit, stick to eating primarily low oxalate foods.
A 2009 study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology concluded that the DASH diet, a diet created to support healthy blood pressure, may help significantly decrease kidney stone risk. The DASH diet is high in fruits and vegetables, moderate in low-fat dairy and low in animal protein.
While this study seems to contradict eating a low oxalate diet to prevent kidney stones, researchers believe that the higher calcium content of the DASH diet may minimize the effects of the higher oxalates. This belief supports NKUDIC's recommendations of eating a low oxalate diet and getting adequate calcium from food sources.
Anecdotal Folk Remedies for Kidney Stones
There are many tried and true folk remedies for kidney stones. However, much of their success is anecdotal. Despite the lack of research, supporters are convinced they work.
These folk remedies include:
- Parsley tea
- Apple cider vinegar
- Basil juice
Natural Pain Management
Kidney stone pain is no joke. Women often say it's worse than labor, and many men say it's the worst pain they've ever experienced. Whether you are unable to tolerate strong pharmaceutical painkillers or simply prefer natural pain remedies, the following suggestions may help your symptoms. Just keep in mind that, depending on the size and number of your stones, it may not be possible to find relief without medical intervention.
- Place a hot water bottle or heating pad on your back or abdomen to relieve painful spasms.
- Soak a towel in warm lavender or chamomile tea, and place it on the affected area. The herbs are calming, and the warmth helps soothe pain.
- Willow bark tea is a tried-and-true pain remedy, and it may be effective at treating low back pain, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Please note that willow bark may thin the blood and contains salicylates. If you're allergic to aspirin, take blood thinners, have a blood clotting disorder, or are planning surgery, you should avoid this herb.
- According to WebMD, meditation may help relieve pain.
- Aromatherapy can help calm the body and the mind, lessening the psychological effects of pain.
Consult Your Doctor
The best natural cures for kidney stones are prevention and early detection. Always consult your physician first before using natural remedies. Kidney pain can be indicative of a serious problem, so it's important to act immediately to ensure a proper diagnosis. Kidney stones can obstruct the ureter and cause kidney damage, so it is imperative to seek professional treatment if relief is not obtained within 24 to 48 hours. Decreased or no urine output, blood or clots in the urine, and increasing levels of pain are all factors to consider when deciding whether to seek emergency treatment. Once your condition is properly diagnosed, discuss your specific medical and diet situation with your doctor to determine if a natural remedy is appropriate.