Home Remedies for Kidney Stones: What Works?

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on August 9, 2017Written by Emily Cronkleton on April 18, 2017

Staying hydrated is key

Drinking plenty of fluids is a vital part of passing kidney stones and preventing new stones from forming. Not only does the liquid flush out toxins, it helps move stones and grit through your urinary tract.

Although water alone may be enough to do the trick, adding certain ingredients can be beneficial. Be sure to drink one 8-ounce glass of water immediately after drinking any flavored remedy. This can help move the ingredients through your system.

Talk to your doctor before getting started with any of the home remedies listed below. They can assess whether home treatment is right for you or if it could lead to additional complications.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, use these home remedies with caution. Your doctor can determine whether a juice may cause side effects for you or your baby.

1. Water

When passing a stone, upping your water intake can help speed up the process. Strive for 12 glasses of water per day instead of the usual eight.

Once the stone passes, you should continue to drink eight to 12 glasses of water each day. Dehydration is one of the main risk factors for kidney stones, and the last thing you want is for more to form.

Pay attention to the color of your urine. It should be a very light, pale yellow. Dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration.

2. Lemon juice

You can add freshly squeezed lemons to your water as often as you like. Lemons contain citrate, which is a chemical that prevents calcium stones from forming. Citrate can also break up small stones, allowing them to pass more easily.

Lemon juice has numerous other health benefits. For example, it helps inhibit bacteria growth.

3. Basil juice

Basil contains acetic acid, which helps to break down the kidney stones and helps to reduce pain. It also lowers uric acid levels, which reduces your risk for future stones.

Use fresh or dried basil leaves to make a tea and drink several cups per day. You may also juice fresh basil or add it to a smoothie.

You shouldn’t use medicinal basil juice for more than six weeks at a time. Extended use may lead to:

  • low blood sugar
  • low blood pressure
  • increased bleeding

4. Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains citric acid. Citric acid helps to dissolve kidney stones. Apple cider vinegar can help alkalize blood and urine and increase stomach acids to prevent the formation of new stones. In addition to flushing out the kidneys, apple cider vinegar can help ease pain caused by the stones.

To reap these benefits, add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 6­­–8 ounces of purified water. Drink this mixture throughout the day.

You shouldn’t consume more than one 8-ounce glass of this mixture per day. If ingested in larger amounts, apple cider vinegar can lead to low levels of potassium and osteoporosis.

People with diabetes should exercise caution when drinking this mixture. Monitor your blood sugar levels carefully throughout the day.

You shouldn’t drink this mixture if you’re taking:

5. Celery juice

Celery juice clears away toxins that contribute to kidney stone formation. It also helps flush out the body so you can pass the stone.

Blend one or more celery stalks with water, and drink the juice throughout the day.

You shouldn’t drink this mixture if you have:

  • any bleeding disorder
  • low blood pressure
  • a scheduled surgery

You also shouldn’t drink this mixture if you’re taking:

6. Pomegranate juice

Pomegranate juice can help improve overall kidney function, as well as flush stones and other toxins from your system.

It also lowers your urine’s acidity level. Lower acidity levels reduce your risk for future kidney stones.

There’s no limit to how much pomegranate juice you can drink throughout the day.

You shouldn’t drink pomegranate juice if you’re taking:

7. Kidney bean broth

The broth from cooked kidney beans helps improve overall urinary and kidney health. It also helps dissolve and flush out the stones. Simply strain the liquid from cooked beans and drink a few glasses throughout the day.

Other natural remedies

The following home remedies may contain ingredients that aren’t already in your kitchen. You should be able to buy them from your local health food store or online.

8. Dandelion root juice

Dandelion root is a kidney tonic that stimulates the production of bile. This helps to eliminate waste, increase urine output, and improve digestion. Dandelions have vitamins (A, B, C, D) and minerals such as potassium, iron, and zinc.

You can make fresh dandelion juice or buy it as a tea. If you make it fresh, you may also add orange peel, ginger, and apple to taste. Drink 3­–4 cups throughout the day.

Some people experience heartburn when they eat dandelion or its parts.

You shouldn’t drink this mixture if you’re taking:

  • blood thinners
  • antacids
  • antibiotics
  • lithium (Lithane)
  • diuretics, such as spironolactone (Aldactone)

If you are taking medications, talk to your doctor before taking dandelion root extract as it can interact with many medications.

9. Wheatgrass juice

Wheatgrass is packed with many nutrients and has long been used to enhance health. Wheatgrass increases urine flow to help pass the stones. It also contains vital nutrients that help cleanse the kidneys.

You can drink 2–8 ounces per day. To prevent side effects, start with the smallest amount possible and gradually work your way up to 8 ounces.

If fresh wheatgrass juice isn’t available, you can take powdered wheatgrass supplements as directed.

Taking wheatgrass on an empty stomach can reduce your risk for nausea. In some cases, it may cause appetite loss and constipation.

10. Horsetail juice

Horsetail increases urine flow to help to flush out kidney stones and can soothe swelling and inflammation. It also has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that aid in overall urinary health.

However, the Cleveland Clinic warns against its use. You shouldn’t use horsetail for more than six weeks at a time. There are dangers of seizures, low B vitamins, and loss of potassium.

You shouldn’t use horsetail if you take lithium (Lithane), diuretics, or heart medications such as digoxin. Horsetail is not recommended for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Horsetail contains nicotine and should not be taken if you are using a nicotine patch or trying to quit smoking.

You also shouldn’t drink this mixture if you have:

  • alcoholism
  • diabetes
  • low potassium levels
  • low thiamine levels

See your doctor

See your doctor if you’re unable to pass your stone within six weeks, or if you begin experiencing severe symptoms that include:

  • severe pain
  • blood in your urine
  • fever
  • chills
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Your doctor will determine whether you need medication or any other therapy to help you pass the stone.

The bottom line

Although it may be uncomfortable, it’s possible to pass a kidney stone on your own.

You can take over-the-counter pain relievers to lessen any pain you may be experiencing. These includes acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve).

Be sure to continue treatment until the stone passes. Do not drink alcohol. Once you pass a kidney stone, you may save it to take to your doctor for testing. To save the stone you will need to strain your urine. They can determine what kind of stone it is and help develop a targeted prevention plan.

You might add these remedies to your usual regimen and continue use after the stone passes. This may help prevent more stones from forming, but always talk to your doctor before taking medications or herbs.

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