Lemon juice has become a very popular remedy for kidney stones, and there’s good reasons for why this is. In this article, you’ll discover why lemon juice works, and you’ll learn some easy ways to get the juice of this yellowish fruit into your body.
Just A Bit About Kidney Stones First
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people suffer from kidney stones, and there are millions of visits to healthcare providers from people seeking relief.
Roughly, 1 out of every 10 people will have an experience with kidney stones in their lifetime, and once an individual has formed a stone, there’s a 50% or greater chance that within 5 years or more that they will have a kidney stone again. After 10 years, the chance of them experiencing another kidney stone goes up to 80% (1).
That doesn’t sound fun at all!
If you’re looking for a science backed way to naturally reduce your chance of getting kidney stones, you’ve clicked on the right article.
Let’s get right into it.
Citric Acid & Citrate
Many people get these mixed up, and there’s a good reason why!
Citric acid and citrate are closely related to one another. In fact, citrate is a derivative of citric acid and many times takes the form of a salt (2).
Lemon juice is loaded with citric acid.
How Does Citric Acid Prevent Kidney Stones?
Generally speaking, you are more protected against forming new kidney stones if you have more citric acid in your urine. Citric acid prevents other material from attaching and building onto the stones. It also breaks up small stones that are in the early stages of their formation (3).
Being rich sources of citric acid, fresh lemon and lime juice as well as lemon and lime juice from concentrates provide more citric acid than grapefruit juice or orange juice. Fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice contain 1.44 and 1.38 g/oz respectively and are considered top sources of citric acid. Commercial lemonade and other juice products only contain 0.03 to 0.22 g/oz (4).
A good reason to consider using fresh squeezed juice, only!
Can Lemon Juice Be As Effective As Potassium Citrate?
People who suffer from kidney stones are, often times, directed to take potassium citrate. The problem is that the cost of potassium citrate is on the rise (5). This has lead a lot of people to considering lemon juice as an alternative. The question on their mind, however, is whether lemon juice a good alternative or not.
One Study Says Yes
A study was done that separated 30 people who suffered with hypocitraturia urinary calcium stones into three groups (6). Calcium stones are the most common type of kidney stone, but there are other types (7). One group was given lemon juice every day, another group was given potassium citrate, and dietary recommendations were given to the third group.
The lemon juice and potassium citrate groups both saw a decrease in urinary calcium levels while the group that was given dietary recommendations saw no decrease in urinary calcium levels. Since urinary calcium levels were the cause of their particular kind of kidney stones, this was important.
All groups saw a decrease in uric acid levels which is also important because some kidney stones are caused by high levels of uric acid.
The results of the study suggested that lemon juice can be considered an alternative in the treatment of urinary calcium stones in patients with hypocitraturia. Since 20% to 60% of kidney stone formers suffer from hypocitraturia, this study had broad implications (8).
Two Studies Say Lemonade Therapy Works
Lemonade therapy is exactly what it sounds like. People drink lemonade over a period of time with the goal of decreasing the rate of the formation of kidney stones.
One study found that “over the time they drank lemonade they had a lower burden of kidney stones and appeared to form kidney stones at a slower rate than they did before starting lemonade therapy” (9).
A second study found that Lemonade Therapy “resulted in favorable changes in urinary citrate and total urine volume” (10). Both of these were positive findings because they both lower the chances of kidney stones.
A Side-Note About Lemonade Therapy
First off, I want to remind you that store bought lemonade will not be as effective as homemade lemonade. If you remember, I mentioned underneath the citric acid and citrate section, up top, that it’s been found that commercial lemonade and other juice products contain low amounts of what’s needed to diminish kidney stones. So, you’ll want to make your own lemonade.
Secondly, lemonade, generally speaking, contains sugar. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic you’re not going to be wanting to chug down lemonade all the time.
I’d suggest that you consider mixing it up. Maybe drink lemonade sometimes, if you like, and then try some of the other suggestions below.
How Much Lemon Juice A Day Is Enough?
According to Kristina Penniston, PhD, RD, of the Department of Clinical Nutrition Services, UW Hospital and Clinics, Madison, Wisconsin, “A half-cup (4 ounces) of pure lemon juice per day or 32 ounces of prepared lemonade provide about the same amount of citric acid as does pharmacological therapy” (3).
Oh, and just in case you wanted another reason to drink lemon juice every day, it will also boost your immune system.
Specific Ways To Drink Lemon Juice For Kidney Stones
- Along With A Glass Of Warm Water: After you’ve squeezed your lemon juice out, simply pour it into a nice tall glass of warm water. You can try different amounts of water until you find the right amount that works for you. 16 ounces of water to every 4 ounces of lemon juice is a good place to start. This can be a great way to begin your day. It’s simple, low sugar, and easy to drink.
- Make Lemon Ice Cubes: Squeeze out your lemon juice into a glass and then pour it into an ice cube tray to be frozen. You can add these lemon ice cubes to water or other beverages throughout the day.
- Make Lemonade: As mentioned above, lemonade works, too! Squeeze out 4 ounces of lemon juice and add this to 16-32 ounces of water. You can add sugar or another sweetener to this mix. We recommend keeping it as low sugar and low calorie as possible.
- Use Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice On Salads: I do this myself quite often. One way to make this tastier is to squeeze your lemon juice onto your salad and then add olive oil to this. Stir it all up and then add a bit of salt or your favorite herbal/salt blend. Mix it all up again and enjoy!
- Squeeze Lemon Juice Over Fruit Salads: If you enjoy a fruit salad here and there, you can squeeze some lemon juice all over it. Not only will this add a different flavor to your fruit salad, but it can also help to keep fruits like apples from browning.
#2. PubChem: Citrate
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