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Kidney Stones

Related Terms

Kidney stones are formed from crystal-like substances that build up in the kidneys or other parts of the urinary tract. They can cause a sharp, stabbing pain, nausea and vomiting, and problems urinating.

They are treated by drinking plenty of water to flush the stones. Pain medicine can help. Some people may need surgery. Others turn to natural therapies to help pass stones.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

High fluid intake and reduced soft drink intake are likely to lower the risk of stones.B1

May Be Effective

  • Black seed comes from an annual flowering plant. It may reduce kidney stones.A3
  • Didymocarpus pedicellata is a small herb used in traditional Indian medicines. It may reduce kidney stone size.A5
  • Lapis judaicus is the name given to the spines of certain marine animals. It may reduce the size of stones when taken as a supplement.A6
  • Potassium citrate is a mineral that may stop the growth of calcium containing kidney stones and prevent new ones from growing in adults. ( Note : People taking antibiotics should not take potassium citrate.)A2, A4, A5
  • Rose oil may ease pain from urinary stones when used with standard treatment.A1
  • Varuna (an herb) and banana stem may help manage kidney stones.A8

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Calcium A9
  • Wu-Ling-San A7

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse. For example, potassium citrate should not be taken with antibiotics.



Herbs and Supplements

A1. Ayan M, Tas U, et al. Investigating the effect of aromatherapy in patients with renal colic. J Altern Complement Med. 2013;19(4):329-333.

A2. Phillips R, Hanchanale VS, et al. Citrate salts for preventing and treating calcium containing kidney stones in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(10):CD010057.

A3. Ardakani Movaghati MR, Yousefi M, et al. Efficacy of black seed (Nigella sativa L.) on kidney stone dissolution: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2019 May;33(5):1404-1412.

A4. Kern A, Grimsby G, et al. Medical and dietary interventions for preventing recurrent urinary stones in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Nov 9;11:CD011252.

A5. Monti E, Trinchieri A, et al. Herbal medicines for urinary stone treatment. A systematic review. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2016 Mar 31;88(1):38-46.

A6. Faridi P, Seradj H, et al. Randomized and double-blinded clinical trial of the safety and calcium kidney stone dissolving efficacy of Lapis judaicus. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 Oct 28;156:82-87.

A7. Lin E, Ho L, et al. Wu-Ling-San formula prophylaxis against recurrent calcium oxalate nephrolithiasis - a prospective randomized controlled trial. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2013 Aug 12;10(5):199-209.

A8. Patankar S, Dobhada S, et al. A prospective, randomized, controlled study to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of Ayurvedic formulation "varuna and banana stem" in the management of urinary stones. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Dec;14(10):1287-1290.

A9. Heaney RP. Calcium supplementation and incident kidney stone risk: a systematic review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008 Oct;27(5):519-527.

Diet Changes

B1. Fink HA, Akornor JW, et al. Diet, fluid, or supplements for secondary prevention of nephrolithiasis: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Eur Urol. 2009 Jul;56(1):72-80.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC