Herbal Medicines in the Management of Urolithiasis: Alternative or Complementary?

Planta Med. 2009 Aug;75(10):1095-103. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1185719. Epub 2009 May 14.


Kidney stone formation or urolithiasis is a complex process that results from a succession of several physicochemical events including supersaturation, nucleation, growth, aggregation, and retention within the kidneys. Epidemiological data have shown that calcium oxalate is the predominant mineral in a majority of kidney stones. Among the treatments used are extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) and drug treatment. Even improved and besides the high cost that imposes, compelling data now suggest that exposure to shock waves in therapeutic doses may cause acute renal injury, decrease in renal function and an increase in stone recurrence. In addition, persistent residual stone fragments and the possibility of infection after ESWL represent a serious problem in the treatment of stones. Furthermore, in spite of substantial progress in the study of the biological and physical manifestations of kidney stones, there is no satisfactory drug to use in clinical therapy. Data from IN VITRO, IN VIVO and clinical trials reveal that phytotherapeutic agents could be useful as either an alternative or an adjunctive therapy in the management of urolithiasis. The present review therefore critically evaluates the potential usefulness of herbal medicines in the management of urolithiasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Herbal Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Lithotripsy
  • Urolithiasis / physiopathology
  • Urolithiasis / therapy*