Preventing a kidney stone recurrence could be as easy and as pleasant as sipping on some lemonade. Sound too good to be true? Well, researchers from two studies presented at an American Urological Association meeting say otherwise.
Experiencing a kidney stone can be horribly unforgettable, as passing one can bring on excruciating pain in the back or side. Stones occur when the kidney — the organ in your body that filters waste products from your blood — contains too much of certain substances, such as calcium (known medically as “hypercalciuria”), oxalate (known as “hyperoxaluria”), or uric acid (known as “hyperuricosuria”).
Fragments of the excess substance form together in a hard mass, appearing much like a stone. When a stone is too large, it can get stuck in one of the ureters, the bladder, or the urethra, blocking urine flow and bringing on that intense pain. A lack of a stone-preventing substance — urinary citrate — or a deficiency of water in the kidney can also cause the problem.
In the first study, researchers monitored 24 former kidney stone patients — 12 of them took potassium citrate (the usual prescription medication) and 12 of them drank two daily liters of lemonade. Note that lemonade contains natural citrate. The study went on for four years. As expected, the patients on the prescription drug did well, with all 12 of them showing improved levels of urinary citrate in the urine (an average increase of 472 mg).
However, the lemonade drinkers also improved — with 11 of them showing a decent increase in the stone-fighting substance (on average, 354 mg). Both groups seemed to have a smaller number of kidney stones that formed at a slower rate than they did before. This study needs to be duplicated on a larger scale in order to confirm these promising results.
The second study was larger, involving 100 people with a history of kidney stones. Of the group, 63 people were treated with lemonade and 37 were treated with both lemonade and potassium citrate. Neither treatment seemed to improve urinary citrate levels greatly, but that could be due to patients not fully complying with the study’s guidelines.
However, people who were on the lemonade-only therapy had increased urine flow, which is a good thing when it comes to preventing kidney stones. A long-term study is needed to show if this treatment’s benefits are more viable in the long run.
For sufferers of either uric acid or calcium stones who are deficient in urinary citrate, doctors still recommend that they take potassium citrate. However, if you’re unable to tolerate the drug, have drug-interaction issues, or simply want to try a more natural way of preventing a kidney stone recurrence, lemonade seems to present a viable option.
Consider adding lemonade to your kidney stone prevention regime. It’s not likely to be harmful, although you should always check with your doctor before starting a new therapy, especially if you have allergies or are on any type of medication. Your physician can also give you some other dietary guidelines to help prevent a recurrence of this painful problem.
To make the stone-fighting concoction, mix one cup of concentrated lemon juice with seven cups of water (preferably filtered). If you need to sweeten it up, don’t add sugar; use a sugar substitute instead. The patients in both studies drank two liters of this tasty tonic a day.