Does Lemon Juice Dissolve Kidney Stones?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

lemon-juice-kidneys

Lemon juice is a popular ingredient used in fresh lemonade, facial tonics, and natural household cleaning recipes. Folk medicine says this vitamin C-rich juice may even dissolve kidney stones, yet science remains inconclusive on these claims. But, science does agree that lemon juice may support kidney health; on the other end of that stick, lemon juice is by no means a cure all for kidney stones. Regardless of the ambiguity, lemon juice has potent nutritional benefits for the kidneys, possibly providing protection against kidney stone development. Again, many factors come into play here; however, lemon juice may still be a beneficial addition to the diet of anyone wanting to support the health of their kidneys.

Types of Kidney Stones

Let’s quickly examine the types of kidney stones before we fully investigate the benefits of lemon juice on stone development. The main contributors to kidney stones include:

  1. Cystine — Often the result of a genetic disorder.
  2. Struvite — Typically develop after a kidney infection.
  3. Uric Acid — Typically result from overconsuming meat, fish, and shellfish — generally rare.
  4. Calcium Oxalate — Buildup of calcium deposits in the kidneys — most common.

The Role of Calcium

Calcium is a necessary mineral for the bones, teeth, heart, and nervous system. When the body has excess calcium, the kidneys respond by removing it from the blood and excreting it out through the urine. The problem arises when the body also has excess oxalate, a plant compound found in foods like spinach and kale. This combination can form calcium oxalate, the most common form of kidney stones.

The Benefits of Lemon Juice for Kidney Health

Lemon juice contains high levels of citric acid, not to be confused with ascorbic acid (vitamin C). While lemon juice contains both, citric acid seems to contribute to reducing the chances of developing calcium oxalate stones. In clinical studies, citric acid from lemon juice has been shown to reduce urine acidity, thereby reducing kidney stone incidence. [1] [2] [3] Vitamin C may also provide protection, yet it is unclear whether or not this protection is as significant as citric acid. Regardless, the bottom line is that lemon juice offers a complementary approach to supporting kidney function and, depending on the type of stones in question, possibly halting formation before it starts.

How Much Lemon Juice Should You Consume?

Two to four ounces of lemon juice offers plenty of citric acid and a variety of other nutrients and antioxidants, all of which may be helpful for supporting kidney health. Always consume lemon juice in its raw, natural form by juicing organic lemons yourself. Never purchase bottled lemon juice, as these products are usually pasteurized and stripped of their raw enzymes and vital nutrients. Take a shot of it by itself or add it to smoothies, mix it with hot water and some raw honey, or make your own lemonade by combining fresh lemon juice with cold water. If you like your lemonade on the sweeter side, I suggest adding stevia.

Has lemon juice had a positive impact on your health? What are your favorite ways to consume lemon juice? Leave us a comment and let us know how you enjoy it!

References:

  1. Aras B1, Kalfazade N, Tucu V, Kemahli E, Ozbay B, Polat H, Tai AI. Can lemon juice be an alternative to potassium citrate in the treatment of urinary calcium stones in patients with hypocitraturia? A prospective randomized study. Urol Res. 2008 Dec;36(6):313-7. doi: 10.1007/s00240-008-0152-6.
  2. Zuckerman JM1, Assimos DG. Hypocitraturia: pathophysiology and medical management. Rev Urol. 2009 Summer;11(3):134-44.
  3. Oussama A1, Touhami M, Mbarki M. In vitro and in vivo study of effect of lemon juice on urinary lithogenesis. Arch Esp Urol. 2005 Dec;58(10):1087-92.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Karie

    That’s too bad about the spinach and Kale because they are considered super foods!

  • They are great but like anything, too much and you’ll reach a point of diminishing returns.

  • James O.

    I recently out of the blue had a bad episode of kidney stones and a gallstone. I’m 37 and never had any issues until this one time. I’m actually still seeing specialist to see what the next step is. In the meantime I’ve been drinking lemon water almost every day as much as I can. I know right now they say there is no proof but I personally have see a world of difference. I have not had any episodes, or pain. Once in awhile I am achy but nothing has sent me to the ER. I heard horror stories and really think lemons have helped. Also use cream of tartar. Great article Doc! Thank you for sharing. Side note I have a twin brother with same issues. I blame him. Lol

  • Glad to hear you’re feeling better. Let us know how things progress. I agree, your brother is probably at fault.

  • Jennifer

    Question, Is it okay to squeeze 1/2 of lemon in a glass water bottle with water through out the day. Is there such a thing as too much lemon water ?? Should i do lemon water in 8 oz in the morning and then regular spring water throughout the day? I usually try and drink 4-6 liters of water a day. I am athletic and just spent 6 miserable days passing kidney stones which I have never had before. I ended up having to have the laser treatment done because one stone was over 6mm (Calcium) . I am dedicated to staying hydrated and have been drinking warm lemon water first thing ever morning. They also found a cyst ( simple) in my right kidney and my liver. Is there anything I can do to shrink them or get rid of them?

  • You’re not likely to overdose on lemon water but the acidity might take a toll on your teeth if it’s constantly going in your mouth. Whether or not liver cleansing would help your cysts… couldn’t say. We get a lot of good reviews but cysts have a lot of causes and I can’t point you to a study that says it makes cysts go away.

  • Emiliyan Aslanyan

    Lemon juice and chanca piedra tea effectively dissolve kidney stones. But I am tired of getting them and am looking for a permanent solution. Such a solution could be the oxalobacter bacteria which removes the oxalates from the gut preventing them to reach the kidneys.

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  • weirdo123

    “yet science remains inconclusive on these claims” — no, science has found no evidence that it works. That is much different than “inconclusive” which would indicate multiple conflicting studies.

    This site is simply a store front with enough sciency sounding articles to full gullible people into buying product.

  • Rebaz Omer

    i always make kidney stone it disturbed me . every month i made on stone with bad pain but finally i learned to drink lemonade mixing with water and after 2 days i dropped the stone. i dropped 2 stone in 2 months by using lemonade. now everyday i drink a glass of it and its a long that my kidney is good and doesnt make stone.

  • Yim Yew Cheong

    Hi doc thanks for your articles. I believe at times natural remedy is God given gift to humans to solve body alignments. I am a sufferer of stones too and I learn about lemon can perhaps help people like me to get rid of the stone from the body. I will hope to hear more people sharing in this platform so that we can hear different peoples solutions to this problem.

  • Gene Kraay

    I have been drinking warm honey/lemon water daily for at least three months. Somewhere I read that this drink can help eliminate kidney stones. I am 65-years old. I love ice tea, and I love grapefruit. Problem is I cannot drink ice tea or eat grapefruit without developing kidney stones. After two months or so of the warm honey/lemon water, I decided to brave iced tea. No problems. I moved on to grapefruit. Again, no problems. Iced tea and grapefruit are now a regular part of my diet. I am not a doctor or researcher, but if the proof is in the pudding, I can say that honey/lemon water has solved my decades long kidney stone problem with iced tea and grapefruit.

  • Brando

    This article says it’s the citric acid that does the trick yet also says use fresh raw lemon because bottled is pasteurized. Fresh or pasteurized both still contain citric acid which is what the article explains as being the cure all of the lemon for stones. Despite the nutrient loss and the “ORGANIC” payment for the certification of saying you’re consuming the most purest lemon known to man, wouldn’t bottled lemon have the same effect on riding stone?

  • Robert

    Possibly. Citric acid is fairly heat stable, so low-grade pasteurization won’t degrade the compound to any significant degree. If it’s heated to over 170 Celsius, however, then that’s probably another story. The issue with pasteurization is that it eliminates many naturally-occurring elements in foods, like enzymes, antioxidants, and vitamin C. Using the whole food ensures you are receiving what’s inherent in the unpasteurized option, rather than missing out on the full range of benefits typical of bottled, processed alternatives. Bottled lemon juice is certainly convenient, but not the best, at least in my opinion. You don’t even have to purchase organic lemons; the EWG says that non-organic lemons are just as fine as organic in the terms of pesticide load, unless you’re eating the peel.

  • Ronald Good

    To prevent damage to your teeth, thorouthly blend or whisk olive oil into the straight lemon juice (you can also add honey, which is anti-bacterial). Take 2 – 4 Tblsps of the undiluted mixture instead of drinking lemonade. The emulsified oil keeps the lemon from destroying your enamel.

  • Donna H

    Is eating lemons as beneficial as drinking lemon water? I eat about eight a day but do squeeze a lot of the juice out first. I have nine stones in my kidneys right now. They’re large and only hurt when they move. They’re starting to move I think as I have s terrible backache but no nausea yet.

  • Sasikala

    Hi dr my husband hv a 9mm kidney stone past 3 days his suffering to the core any alternate option we need it without surgery….

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  • Utkarsh Srivastava

    I’m suffering from 2 stones in my both kidneys. One is 6mm and another one is 3mm large. How much lemon juice I’ll have to take or what precautions I must follow?

  • Sloney

    Drink water – lots of it! Hydration is paramount. Good luck.

  • Abhijit Deokule

    I have been suffering from unexplained back pain from my first episode of kidney stone a year ago. I have done ultrasound so many times but nothing is diagnosed.Whenever I eat diet containing animal protein (such as milk, chicken) the severity of the pain increases. Whenever I eat diet containing fruits and vegetables the pain diminishes to a low level.Is it due to uric acid level in the blood? What medication should I take if it is due to Uric acid? Please explain I need help.

  • Sharon Camara

    I was in pain, had an MRI and was diagnosed with kidney stones. I was given flowmax and percocet and antibiotics. My mom told me to drink lemonade. I made a gallon of limeade every morning (with erithritol for sweetener) and drank it throughout the day every day for a week or two. All my symptoms went away, I stopped taking flowmax and percocet, and that was about 6 months ago – I did not get a new MRI to confirm they are GONE but there is no evidence by way of pain and discomfort!

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  • ECanedo

    Taking a gallon of fluid a day is a lot of water! That probably helped wash them out.

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  • Justice All

    Minute Maid sells a 100% pure lemon juice from concentrate in the frozen food section. Comes in a plastic yellow bottle. It’s not organic however. I’ve been using several squirts of that into a gallon of water I drink thru the day. I go thru 1 bottle a week as it says it contains the juice of 7 lemons, so that equates to one lemon/day which I’ve read is ample for kidney stone prevention. I recently began to buy organic lemons & squeezing them & putting that juice into 3 empty bottles I saved & I freeze them. Works out to about the same price but for organic and truly fresh squeezed. Win-win.

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