Vinegar is classified as “folk medicine,” for the prevention or treatment of kidney stones. Folk medicine is a simple or natural treatment, outside of clinical medicine, that is based on experience and knowledge handed down from generation to generation. Vinegar is acetic acid but, when ingested, becomes more alkaline during the digestive process. Kidney stones are composed of uric acid, salts, calcium and minerals that stick together. Folk medicine reports that vinegar, once alkalinized, can neutralize and dissolve the acidic composition of some smaller kidney stones and prevent new ones from forming. Clinical medicine literature recommends that people with symptoms of kidney stones seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of kidney stones can include blood tinged urine, pain in the middle 1/3 of your back, on the right or left side [flank area] that moves toward the lower abdomen or groin, nausea, and vomiting. Medical evaluation may include urinalysis and either a CAT scan, ultrasound or radio contrast study called IV Pyelogram to confirm a true diagnosis. Ultrasound is recommended for pregnant women to prevent exposing the growing fetus to radiation.
Kidney stone treatment varies depending on symptoms. Pain and anti-nausea medication may be prescribed. IV hydration is given to help increase urine volume and assist passage of the stone during urination. Antibiotics may be given for signs of urinary tract infection. The category of medications known as “alpha blockers,” may be prescribed to help relieve spasms in the ureters [the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder] and allow stone passage with urination. Very large stones [larger than 5 millimeters] may require a procedure called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy or “lithotripsy,” to break stones into pieces small enough for urinary passage.
The best way to prevent kidney stones is by drinking enough water to keep your urine clear and reducing intake of salt, which increases calcium in your urine. It may be helpful to reduce intake of high-oxalate foods such as instant coffee, tea, chocolate, dark green leafy veggies, sweet potatoes, oranges, tofu, beans and berries. These foods may put you at higher risk for kidney stones. Moderate intake of dairy products and calcium rich foods may reduce your risk for kidney stones. Ask your doctor and dietician regarding diet modifications and proper intake of Calcium supplements.