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Does celery juice help break down kidney stones?

Kidney stones can be extremely painful and disruptive to daily life. Some people claim that drinking celery juice can help break down and eliminate kidney stones, but does it really work? In this comprehensive article, we’ll examine the evidence behind using celery juice for kidney stones.

What are kidney stones?

Kidney stones form when minerals and salts in the urine crystallize and stick together. There are four main types of kidney stones:

  • Calcium stones – made up of calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate
  • Uric acid stones – formed by high acid levels in urine
  • Struvite stones – caused by urinary tract infections
  • Cystine stones – rare, formed by cystine amino acid

Kidney stones vary in size, from as small as a grain of sand to larger than a golf ball. Small stones may pass through the urinary tract on their own, but larger ones can get lodged and block the flow of urine.

Symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Painful urination
  • Pink, red, or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent need to urinate
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present

What causes kidney stones?

Some key risk factors for kidney stones include:

  • Dehydration – not drinking enough water
  • Diets high in protein, sodium, and sugar
  • Obesity
  • Certain medical conditions like hyperparathyroidism
  • Family history of kidney stones
  • Digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis

The leading cause of most kidney stones is low fluid intake and dehydration. Urine contains waste products that can crystallize into stones if there isn’t enough liquid to dilute the urine and flush out the kidneys.

Treatments for kidney stones

Some common treatments for passing kidney stones include:

  • Pain relievers – Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve discomfort. In severe cases, stronger prescription narcotics may be used.
  • Alpha blockers – Muscle relaxant medications to help relax the ureter to allow stones to pass.
  • Lithotripsy – Using sound waves to break up stones into smaller, passable pieces.
  • Surgery – Procedures like ureteroscopy to remove stones lodged in the urinary tract.

In mild cases, simply drinking plenty of water to facilitate flushing the stone out may be recommended. Lifestyle changes like diet modification, weight loss, and adequate hydration can help prevent recurrence of kidney stones.

What is celery juice?

Celery juice is extracted from celery stalks that have been juiced, frequently in a cold-press juicer. It has become a health fad in recent years, with claims that drinking pure celery juice on an empty stomach every morning can treat various chronic illnesses.

Some alleged benefits of celery juice include:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Supports digestion and gut health
  • Detoxification and cleansing
  • Kidney stone elimination

Celery juice contains approximately:

  • 95% water
  • Vitamins A, C, K
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Phytonutrients like flavonoids

Many of the claims about celery juice come from Anthony William, author and founder of the “Medical Medium” books and movement. However, there is limited scientific research to back these health claims.

Can celery juice break down kidney stones?

There is no scientific evidence that proves celery juice can actively break down or dissolve kidney stones. However, some components of celery juice may help facilitate passing stones:

  • Hydration – Celery juice is 95% water, so it helps flush the kidneys and urinary tract.
  • Potassium citrate – Has been shown to help prevent calcium-based stones from forming.
  • Anti-inflammatory – May soothe pain and discomfort associated with passing stones.

The high water content of celery juice means it can help dilute the concentration of minerals in urine that lead to stones. It can support passing smaller stones by allowing them to flow out with the increased urination.

However, claims that celery juice can fully break down or dissolve kidney stones are not backed by evidence. It likely needs to be combined with prescription medications, lithotripsy, and/or surgery for larger stones.

Potential risks of celery juice

While celery juice is likely safe for most people when consumed in moderation, some potential risks include:

  • Bloating or gas due to high fiber content
  • Dangerously low sodium levels if consumed in excess
  • Pesticide exposure from non-organic celery
  • Interaction with certain medications

People on sodium-restricted diets or taking lithium or anticoagulants should exercise caution with high celery juice intake. Pregnant women should also take care, as celery juice can stimulate uterine contractions.

It’s best to limit celery juice to no more than 16 ounces per day and include other healthy hydrating fluids like water and herbal tea.

Other natural remedies for kidney stones

In addition to celery juice, some other natural ways to help prevent and manage kidney stones include:

Remedy Method Reasoning
Lemon Juice Mix with water and drink daily Citric acid may help break down calcium stones
Apple Cider Vinegar Add 1-2 tablespoons to water 2x/day Malic acid dissolves calcified deposits
Basil Make tea or add to dishes Helps restore pH balance in kidneys
Magnesium 400-800 mg supplement daily Prevents formation of calcium oxalate stones

A diet rich in whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and plenty of fluids is beneficial for preventing kidney stones. Staying hydrated, limiting sodium, reducing meat intake, and managing underlying medical conditions may also help.

When to see a doctor

It’s important to consult a doctor or urologist for severe kidney stone pain, nausea/vomiting, fever, or other concerning symptoms. Small stones may pass on their own, but larger stones often require surgery or lithotripsy.

A doctor can help diagnose the stone type and underlying cause through imaging tests and lab work. They will also provide medication and guidance to help facilitate stone removal and prevent future recurrences.

The bottom line

While celery juice may provide some benefits for flushing the kidneys and potentially aiding in stone passage, there is no solid evidence that it dissolves or breaks down existing kidney stones. For people prone to developing stones, celery juice may be included as part of an overall prevention approach focused on hydration and dietary modification. However, its effects should not be overstated, and severe kidney stone cases require medical treatment. Those experiencing symptoms of kidney stones should seek evaluation from a medical professional.