Maybe you just got imaging results back and found out you have a kidney stone. Or, maybe you had the unfortunate experience of learning about your kidney stone by passing it. In either case, your obvious concern is: “what dissolves kidney stones fast?”. You understandably want to get rid of that kidney stone as fast as possible!
A Google search will reveal ENDLESS supplements and home remedies that claim to dissolve kidney stones fast, and help pass them quickly.
What does the science say? What dissolves kidney stones fast? Read on to learn everything you need to know about dissolving kidney stones.
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Can Kidney Stones Be Dissolved?
First things first. Can kidney stones be dissolved in the first place? Answer: it depends on the type of kidney stone you have.
If you don’t know what kind of kidney stone you have, a 24-hour urine test will give you a pretty good idea. An analysis of the stone itself is the only way to confirm the type of kidney stone you had.
How to Dissolve Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stones
Calcium oxalate is the most common type of kidney stone. About 80% of kidney stones are calcium oxalate. (1)
Unfortunately, calcium oxalate kidney stones cannot be dissolved. Once a calcium oxalate kidney stone has formed, you have to pass it, or have it removed by a urologist.
There are a handful of studies that have found ways to dissolve calcium oxalate kidney stones outside the body. Scientists can dissolve calcium oxalate kidney stones in petri dishes with a variety of chemicals. (2) (3) However, no studies have found a way to dissolve calcium oxalate kidney stones in the body.
It is hard to translate these petri dish studies to kidney stones in real humans. Remember, eating or drinking something is very different than putting that something directly on a kidney stone to dissolve it. When you consume a food or supplement, it has to be absorbed in the intestines, transported through the blood, metabolized by the liver, repackaged and excreted in the urine. All of these processes dramatically change food from the state you eat it in. It is also important to consider if enough of what you consume makes it to your urine, where it could dissolve kidney stones.
How to Dissolve Calcium Phosphate Kidney Stones
Similar to calcium oxalate kidney stones, there is no way to dissolve calcium phosphate kidney stones.
How to Dissolve Uric Acid Kidney Stones
Good news! You can dissolve uric acid kidney stones fast.
Many uric acid kidney stones can be dissolved by a medication called potassium citrate. The goal of this therapy is to reduce urine acid levels (aka, increase your urine pH). (4) (5) For most people, a urine pH of at least 6.0 is the goal to dissolve uric acid kidney stones.
Your doctor may even ask you to to test your urine pH at home using basic pH testing strips*. There are also fancier options* that also measure urine ketones, glucose, protein and a number of other things. Testing your urine pH can help make sure your medication is working to lower urine acid.
How Fast Can you Dissolve Uric Acid Kidney Stones?
The time it takes to dissolve uric acid kidney stones depends on the size and composition of your kidney stone, and urine pH.
One study found the average time to dissolve uric acid kidney stones was 3 months. (4) Another study found it took 6 weeks for uric acid kidney stones to dissolve. (5) Either way, this timeframe is a relatively fast way to dissolve kidney stones!
Natural Remedies to Dissolve Uric Acid Kidney Stones Fast
If you prefer to avoid medication, there are ways to reduce urine acid and help dissolve uric acid kidney stones naturally.
Here are some things you can do to help dissolve uric acid kidney stones:
- Use the power of food! What you eat can change the pH of your urine. Eat more foods with a negative acid load, and fewer foods with a positive acid load to help increase urine pH. For most people, this boils down to less animal protein and more fruits and vegetables. Learn more about dietary acid load.
- Lemon juice. But, you need a lot of it! A typical dose of potassium citrate is 20mEq. A 1/2 cup of lemon juice has the same amount of alkali as 20mEq dose of potassium citrate. Squeezing a wedge of lemon into your water is probably not going to cut it.
- Get potassium citrate from drinks! Crystal Light Lemonade* is surprisingly high in potassium citrate. One liter has the same amount of alkali as 20mEq of a potassium citrate pill.
- Try a drink powder. I know these are a bit more like medications. However, if you want to avoid pills, Moonstone* and Litholyte* can help reduce acid in your urine.
Disclaimer: Although all of these natural remedies can reduce urine acid, these remedies have not been proven to be as effective as medication. They may not reduce acid levels enough to dissolve your kidney stones. As your doctor what is best for you!
Supplements & Foods to Dissolve Kidney Stones Fast
There are many supplements that claim to dissolve kidney stones fast. Very few of these are backed by research.
In fact, a study found that two-thirds of dietary supplements that claim to treat or prevent kidney stones contain ingredients with conflicting or no scientific evidence to support their claims. (6)
Here are some supplements and foods that claim to dissolve or help with kidney stones. NONE of these are backed by quality research. I do not recommend them for kidney stone prevention or treatment.
- Olive oil (yes, a heart healthy oil!, but will not help with kidney stones)
- Cola (in fact, most sodas could make kidney stones worse)
- Kidney stone “breaker” supplements
- Cranberry (supplements or juice)
- Chance piedra
- Apple cider vinegar
Also, supplements are not regulated in the United States, and could cause harm. Always let your doctor or dietitian know about any nutritional or herbal supplements you take.
What You CAN Do About Kidney Stones
For most people, there is no good way to dissolve kidney stones fast. I truly wish I could give you a more positive news!
However, there is a lot you can do to prevent kidney stones! If you have had one kidney stone, you have up to a 50% chance of having another stone at some point in your life. (7) So, kidney stone prevention is very important!
Kidney stone prevention is different for everyone. There is no single “kidney stone diet” that is for everyone. Not even one diet for people with the same type of kidney stone.
Instead, nutrition for kidney stones must be personalized to your 24-hour urine test results. This test will tell you and your doctor the cause of your kidney stone, to make sure your treatment will be effective.
I help people learn about a personalize nutrition plan for kidney stone prevention in Kidney Stone Nutrition School!