The People's Perspective on Medicine

Lemon Juice Fights Kidney Stones

Q. I read a letter from someone who drank lemonade to prevent kidney stones. I’ve had kidney stones for six years. I’ve been through two lithotripsies and taken sodium bicarbonate for two years. One of the physician assistants told me a year ago to drink a shot glass of lemon juice right before bedtime. I’ve had two ultrasounds since then and no kidney stones show up. I just wish my urologist had told me this.

A. Kidney stones are extremely painful, so preventive measures are most welcome. Doctors sometimes prescribe potassium citrate to block their formation. Because lemon juice also contains citrate, doctors have considered lemonade therapy to prevent kidney stones (Journal of Urology, April 2007). This calls for one or two quarts of unsweetened or low-sugar lemonade per day.

Pure lemon juice before bedtime can be hard on tooth enamel. Be sure to rinse well!

Rate this article
star-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-emptystar-fullstar-empty
5- 4 ratings
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. .
Get the latest health news right in your inbox

Join our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide — for FREE!

Screenshots of The People's Pharmacy website on mobile devices of various sizes
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.

Showing 12 comments
Comments
Add your comment

Is the citrate in the juice of bottled, 100% concentrated lemon juice as “potent” as that from freshly squeezed lemon juice or does the bottled citrate expire? The idea being I’d like to skip all the squeezing routine and just pour 4oz of the bottled concentrate to 2 liters of water every day. Thanks for your thoughts.

I need to drink lemon juice to raise my urine citrate and decrease the chances of kidney stones. But I also need to take baking soda to raise my pH level (too much acid). But when I combine the two with water, there isn’t that sour lemon taste. So does anyone know if the baking soda cancels out the benefit of the lemon juice raising the citrate level in the urine?

I’ve recently learned that I have a lot of “calculi” in just one of my ureters. I’ve had no pain or stones as of yet and the doc just wants to “watch” this which makes me very uneasy. Would this lemon juice regimen help to dissolve this calculi that is already there?

Regarding this indicated subject of Lemon Juice helping assist Kidney Stones, I believe such a thing is essential for people to recognize it has to be real Lemon juice/Ade; not the commercial products. My inquiry is, can one drink Organic Lemon juice, not from concentrate and also obtain the equivalent advantages as real Lemons? It is costly in addition to time-consuming to purchase and squeeze Lemons.

I been getting kidney stone’s for the last six years the Dr put me on meds and I am still taking them until I told him that I ran out of insurance and he told me to take lemon juice and water after dinner and it’s been working….

So is potassium citrite found in lemon juice? I wasn’t able to glean that from the links provided. Of course, I’m passing a kidney stone right now so I’m in a lot of pain and on drugs, so I might have missed it (lol, only not.)
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: YES, LEMON JUICE CONTAINS CITRATE. HOPE YOUR STONE SOON RESOLVES AND YOU DON’T GET ANY MORE!

I’ve suffered from kidney stones for over 20 years. And I average about 12 every year. I’ve heard so many things from various Dr.s and yet nothing has helped. In fact, I have one now as I write this. Every Dr. Has said they want to help, yet I’ve still found no relief.
My type of stone is uric acid stones. So is this article basically stating that if I drink orange juice, I can have relief from stones? Also, I must add, I suffer from acid reflux and citrus really inflates this problem. Would really appreciate any help I can get.

Can anyone explain what, or the significance of, the final passage of: “However, orange juice increased urinary oxalate and did not alter calcium excretion, whereas potassium citrate decreased urinary calcium without altering urinary oxalate. Thus, orange juice lacked the ability of potassium citrate to decrease urinary saturation of calcium oxalate.” actually means? thanks!!!
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: OUR UNDERSTANDING IS THAT ALTHOUGH ORANGE JUICE HELPS A LITTLE, POTASSIUM CITRATE IS MORE EFFECTIVE FOR CHANGING THE URINE SO KIDNEY STONES ARE LESS LIKELY.

Does Lime Juice work just as well instead of Lemon Juice?
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: IT HAS NOT BEEN TESTED AS THOROUGHLY, BUT IT SHOULD BE HELPFUL.

Wow ! this is an important revelation. Aren’t baking soda and lemon juice polar opposites on the acid-alkaline continuum?

“This calls for one or two quarts a day…”. Quarts with what strength of juice to H2O?
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: SOME OF THE STUDIES USED 4 OUNCES OF LEMON JUICE TO 2 LITERS OF WATER.

A study was done a few years ago, stating that orange juice, or oranges were more efficient than lemons, or lemonade at preventing kidney stones.
PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THE STUDY WE FOUND WAS CONDUCTED IN 1993. HERE IS THE ABSTRACT:
J Urol. 1993 Jun;149(6):1405-8.
Effect of orange juice consumption on urinary stone risk factors.
Wabner CL, Pak CY.
Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas 75235-8885.
Abstract
The value of orange juice consumption in kidney stone prevention was examined in 8 healthy men and 3 men with documented hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis. They underwent 3 phases of a metabolic study, a placebo phase and 2 treatment phases in which they ingested either 1.2 l. orange juice (containing 60 mEq. potassium and 190 mEq. citrate per day) with meals or potassium citrate tablets (60 mEq. per day) with water and meals. Compared to potassium citrate, orange juice delivered an equivalent alkali load and caused a similar increase in urinary pH (6.48 versus 6.75 from 5.71) and urinary citrate (952 versus 944 from 571 mg. per day). Therefore, orange juice, like potassium citrate, decreased urinary undissociated uric acid levels and increased the inhibitor activity (formation product) of brushite (calcium phosphate). However, orange juice increased urinary oxalate and did not alter calcium excretion, whereas potassium citrate decreased urinary calcium without altering urinary oxalate. Thus, orange juice lacked the ability of potassium citrate to decrease urinary saturation of calcium oxalate. Overall, orange juice should be beneficial in the control of calcareous and uric acid nephrolithiasis.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^