The People's Perspective on Medicine

How Can You Prevent a Kidney Stone?

Drinking seltzer water with lemon or lime should not trigger a kidney stone. Instead, it might help prevent a recurrence.

People who have had a kidney stone will tell you the pain is excruciating. They would do almost anything to avoid a repeat performance. So we were not surprised to hear from a reader who wanted to reduce her risk for another kidney stone. We were puzzled that she was worried about seltzer water.

Will Seltzer Water Trigger a Kidney Stone?

 Q.  I have always watched my diet, exercised and consumed lots of water, never soda. When the hot flashes of menopause became too strong, I wanted something besides water. According to the research I found, flavored seltzer water could be the answer. I drank tons of it.

After about 8 months, a kidney stone hit out of nowhere. The emergency room nurses and doctors told me it was the carbonation. I haven’t touched seltzer water since.

What Are the Risk Factors for a Kidney Stone?

A. Hot summer months are the time of year that kidney stones are most likely to show up. Perhaps that is because people are more likely to become dehydrated when the temperature rises. This concentrates the urine, which makes stone formation more likely.

The number one recommendation for preventing stone formation is to drink lots of water—between 2.5 and 4 liters daily (Journal of Urology, March, 2013). That is presumably what you were doing.

The Story on Seltzer:

Carbonated water (aka seltzer water) is a bit more complicated. Soft drinks, especially colas, seem to increase the risk of repeat kidney stones (Annals of Internal Medicine, Nov. 4, 2014).  Mineral water, whether still or sparkling, did not increase the likelihood of a problem.

Carbonation might even be somewhat beneficial (Urolithiasis, Feb. 2016).  Plain seltzer water with lemon juice provides citrate, which can help prevent the formation of kidney stones (Archivio Italiano di Urologia, Andrologia, July 7, 2015).

DASH Diet to Fight Kidney Stones:

A DASH diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in meat and salt might help prevent recurrent kidney stones (American Journal of Kidney Diseases, March 2014). This type of dietary pattern is also good for the cardiovascular system.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I’m so fortunate to enjoy great health but I did have a kidney stone 3 years ago. The nurse at the emergency room (I BEGGED for an ambulance!!) said he had experienced kidney stones repeatedly until another nurse told him to take “the juice of a lime a day.” I also committed to a water program (I had never realized how important enough water was), and I have not had another kidney stone. Whether it is the increased water or the lime doesn’t matter. I will continue with both. Anything to prevent another kidney stone!

I found a remedy to prevent kidney stones (based on case test studies) in two natural healing books a few decades ago. Most kidney stones are formed from oxylates over a long period of time, from months to longer. This remedy keeps oxylates in solution, so they will pass from the body in urine. You must take the remedy every day to prevent the formation of kidney stones. It will not dissolve stones that have already formed, and there is no home remedy to date for that.

I used to have trouble getting my hub to take his supplements, but when he would stop the remedy for six months, he’d suddenly feel pain from a “new” stone that had formed over those months, requiring shattering or surgery in the hospital …and days of misery waiting for it to pass before that.

Each and every day, take 300 mg Magnesium Oxide and 30 mg of B6. That simple remedy has saved him much pain and expense. If you already have a hidden stone, it may still be a problem after you start the remedy, and so don’t go thinking the remedy didn’t work until you have tried it for a year or longer. Again, the remedy will not dissolve currently existing stones that can rest, hidden, for some time. It only prevents the formation of new ones. Be sure to used only Magnesium OXIDE, not any other form of magnesium.

The books are consistent with the 300 MG of magnesium, but vary on the recommended amout of B6, from 10 to 100 mg. I give my hub 400 mg magnesium oxide, because the capsules are 200 mg each. I give him 30 mg B6 in his multi-vitamin and he has been stone-free for over a decade. He’s finally a believer, having had at least one stone every year or two before that. No stoones for a long time now.

What book are you referring to? Oxylate was not the problem in my stone so I’d like to see if the book provides other solutions.

When one suddenly develops kidney stones as an older adult, they may want to make sure to have calcium levels checked to rule out hypercalcemia and possibly hyperparathyroidism. HPTH is a problem with the glands that regulate the amount of calcium in the bloodstream causing the glands to pull calcium from the bones and dump it in the blood as if there is too little calcium there.

Over time, it can cause osteopenia or osteoporosis, kidney stones, joint and muscle pain, brain fog, depression/anxiety, fatigue and calcium deposits in places where it isn’t helpful among other symptoms.

It happens more often in people over 50 and more often in women. I had surgery to correct this 3 years ago and feel so much better and feel younger than I did then.

A long time ago I was diagnosed with a recurring kidney stone problem. Test revealed high levels of BOTH compounds that produce stones.

A urologist prescribed the lowest dosage of a high blood pressure med (his logic was it was the cheapest!). I did not have high blood pressure!

In getting the prescription filled I was given a sheet of possible interactions and it said that the med would probably give me an allergy to sunlight!

Since I live in a warm climate, wondering around in a veil did not appeal to me sans the problem of Vitamin D deficiency.

So I consulted a local health store and found that taking magnesium oxide countered the one compound and Vitamin B6 countered the other.

That was awkward, mixing magnesium powder until I discovered Solgar sells one pill that has BOTH supplements.

Now, any time I feel the beginning of renal colic, I take a pill and a big glass of water and within 5 minutes my ph balance is restored.

A low oxalate diet has helped me, and others whom I know, to be free of kidney stones.

Seltzer water, especially with lemon, is good.

The problem is there are many healthy plant foods that are high in oxalates which is one of the compounds responsible for kidney stones. However, my search of the medical literature to date has not provided me with any answers to this dilemma. Any advice?

My first kidney stone attack put me in the ER where I waited in pain for 4 hours until treated. After my second attack, I was more careful about drinking 6 glasses of water every day as recommended by my urologist. I was also being treated for BPH and was taking Tamsulosin and later also Finasteride.

I had a few more less severe attacks, but was able to pass the stone(s) with minor discomfort! Then I was switched from Tamsulosin to small daily doses of Cialis to also help with my ED.

I had another attack and the ER doctor prescribed Flomax (Tamsulosin), to help with the kidney stones. So I stopped Cialis and went back to Tamsulosin, and haven’t had any attacks for the last couple of years.

Drinking a lot of water with a BPH problem, and taking HCTZ for BP is a combo that requires frequent visits to the bathroom, which is especially annoying when traveling. I am planning on having a procedure to correct my enlarged prostate, but my doctor isn’t in my Unitedhealthcare Medical Advantage plan. I like my doctor and am now checking on how much my plan will pay for this procedure performed by him.

I am a big fan of your emails, especially when you discuss home remedies and other non prescription solutions. I am hoping that you may comment on the pros and cons of different BPH corrective procedures?

Thanks for all you do!

Charlie P

There is much to read on this subject but being a chronic kidney stone patient I can attest that what did me in was a balanced yet low carb-hi protein diet. The part of this diet most suspect was the vegatables I like to eat as they turned out to be high oxalate foods. SPINACH is unbelieveably high in oxalate.

Those lumps all over Popeye’s body are not muscles but kidney stones run awry. Spinach has 700 times the oxalate than a low oxalate food! There are others at the top of the list: peanuts, eggplant, beets…etc. In fact, those on healthy “vegi” diets stand a high risk if they do not consult the oxalate list. High protein non vegatarian foods are very low in oxalate.

Of course water and lots of it, low salt, and lemon (citric components) really help.

This could be good news for someone taking topiramate for migraines since it can induce kidney stones.

A daily glass of lemonade has helped me! I proved it to Duke Urology by a 24 hour urine drinking only lemonade changed the pH of the urine and making stone formation hard to do. Having over 100+ calcium oxalate kidney stones has been no picnic!

I can say my method has proved no stone formation and recently checked by KUB Tomogram at Duke and no stones!!! This is my cure after 30 years of stones!

A daily glass of lemonade or lemons in whatever you drink squeezed and this specific diuretic 25 mg. daily of Chorthalidone! Ask your doctor and it has kept me stone free!!! Also if in terrible pain the only medicine that ever helped me was Toradol but Discuss with your Doctor!

Can chemicals in tap water contribute to kidney stones?

Both of my parents suffered catastrophic kidney infections, including really bizarre trips to the hospital with kidney stone attacks. My mother died of kidney cancer. Still free of stone attacks, I have lived longer than they had at their ages of attacks.

My key lifestyle differences include:

(1) drinking only filtered or bottled water, some of which is “sparkling”; and

(2) eating a much healthier, low salt diet. Due to severe food allergies, I must eat “healthy” or “clean” with lots of fresh produce, no sugar, low salt and minimal animal protein.

Keep my fingers crossed, it will pay off! Many thanks for your fine work.

About 15 years ago, I passed a kidney stone. I asked the attending urologist how to prevent another one. He said that eating less protein & drinking more water should be helpful. For whatever reason, I have never had one since.

Ever heard of too much black pepper causing kidney stones? A friend at work swears it’s true.

After my second kidney stone in four years, the urologist told me to quit drinking tea (which I drank every day), and to quit eating peanuts (which I ate every day), and to quit eating spinach (my favorite vegetable). I followed his suggestions, and have had no kidney stones in the fifteen years since.

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