Orange aid for kidney stones...

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Scientific discoveries and ongoing research

Potassium citrate, the preferred drug for managing several types of kidney stones, causes stomach upset in some patients. Now a recent study suggests an intriguing possibility: Orange juice, naturally rich in both potassium and citrate, may be effective for preventing conditions leading to at least two types of kidney stones--those containing mostly uric acid or calcium phosphate. To make the comparison, eight healthy men and three men with kidney stones took a standard dose of potassium citrate or drank enough OJ through the day (five cups) to deliver the same potassium load. In both groups, (1) urine acidity was reduced, making it harder for uric acid stones to form; and (2) urine levels of citrate were raised, which makes it harder for calcium-containing stones, such as calcium phosphate, to form. This pilot study doesn't reveal what OJ's actual effect on stone formation is. And it suggests that if OJ does work, it's not likely to work as well for preventing calcium-oxalate stones, the most common type of kidney stone. In the OJ group, levels of calcium oxalate in the urine were not reduced--something potassium citrate does (Journal of Urology, June 1993). Never make changes in kidney-stone treatment without consulting your doctor first.

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by Holly McCord, R.D., with Teresa A. Yeykal

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