Black Pepper and Kidney Stones

black pepper
A close-up of black peppercorns in a wooden spoon. (Image: Amy_Lv/iStock/Getty Images)

Kidney stones are crystal-like concentrations of minerals that normally pass from the kidney in urine or else become lodged in the kidney and grow larger. The condition is fairly common, with 5 percent of Americans developing these stones at some point, according to Brigham and Women's Hospital. Drinking plenty of fluid is important for preventing kidney stones, and limiting certain foods and spices can help. Black pepper is one of these spices.

Risk Factors

Men are more likely than women to develop kidney stones, and the risk of this condition continually increases after age 40, according to Brigham and Women's Hospital. People with a history of kidney stones or a family history of kidney stones are more susceptible.

Oxalate

Limiting foods containing high amounts of oxalate can help prevent kidney stones, according to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Oxalate is a simple molecule that binds with calcium in the urine, and the combination can develop into a stone. Calcium oxalate stones account for about 80 percent of all kidney stones, notes Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Foods to Limit

The dried fruit of black pepper, used as a seasoning, is known as peppercorn. Because of the oxalate content, Brigham and Women's Hospital recommends limiting black pepper intake to 1 tsp. or less per day as part of a kidney stone prevention method. Other foods to limit, as listed by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, include spinach, celery, parsley, rhubarb, cranberries, peanuts, soy, bran and chocolate.

Additional Recommendations

When you don't drink enough fluid to dilute your urine, it increases the risk of excess minerals and chemicals combining and forming kidney stones. Brigham and Women's recommends drinking 8 to 12 cups of fluid a day, which can include coffee, as coffee may actually decrease the occurrence of kidney stones. Additionally, consuming 1,000 to 1,200 mg of calcium per day can help because any oxalate that binds with calcium in the digestive tract is prevented from being excreted in urine. Oxalate is a bigger culprit than calcium in kidney stone formation, notes Brigham and Women's.

Kidney Stone Treatment

Drinking plenty of fluid can not only prevent kidney stones, but can also flush a stone out of the urinary tract, explains Brigham and Women's. If the stone is too large to pass through, treatment usually consists of lithotripsy, a procedure that breaks up the stone with shock waves. A minor surgical procedure is another possibility.

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