Kidney Stones Suck; Add This to Banish Them

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Kidney stones are one of the most painful acute conditions that humans can endure.

Whenever I asked female patients who have had both children and kidney stones which was worse, the answer is always the kidney stones.  Maybe this is because childbirth is a natural process and the body will release endorphins to curb the pain.

Either way, kidney stones are extremely painful and if you just had a kidney stone you are likely willing to do anything to avoid getting another.

Like pretty much everything else in medicine, dogma rules when it comes to advice on lowering your risk of getting another kidney stone.  And frankly, the research that I have come across is pretty limited as well (you can read about some of them in a previous article by clicking here).

What I usually tell patients is that it is clear that a plant-based diet will lower your risk of kidney stones and, despite the long held belief that vitamin C contributes to kidney stones, they do not.

Another long held belief is that caffeinated beverages will also increase the risk of kidney stones.  This may be related to the also-long-held-but-incorrect belief, that caffeinated beverages dehydrate you.  This is the reason that the “experts” tell you to drink an additional glass of water for every caffeinated beverage that you take in.

Regular Rantings readers will know that I am not a big fan of the “8 glass of water a day” recommendation (especially when that water is from BPA-laden plastic water bottles) and I have always felt that the need to drink an additional glass of water for every glass of tea or coffee you drink was unneccesary.

Do you really think the Dalai Lama is dilligently drinking a glass of water for every cup of green tea he is drinking?

Of course not.

Looking back at blog posts I did over a decade ago, I was pretty sure that caffeinated beverages needed to be avoided for kidney stone prevention.  But, like a handful of other recommendations over the years, this one is subject to change.  Especially according to this particular study.

In this study, researchers looked at 4982 kidney stone patients to see if caffeine intake had an effect on their risk of developing kidney stones.  Here’s what they found:

  • Those with the highest intakes of caffeine intake had a 26%, 29% or 31% lower risk depending upon which is the three study groups were looked at).
  • Higher caffeine intake was linked to higher urine volume, calcium, and potassium as well as with lower urine oxalate and supersaturation for calcium oxalate and uric acid (meaning that the urine could hold more calcium before stones started to form).

Overall, these are pretty strong numbers given the long-given recommendation to avoid caffeinated beverage intake.  So, if you are a kidney stone sufferer, than it’s time to add some tea and / or coffee to your daily regimine.


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.