Kidney stones: Mangosteen juice does a good job

Mangosteen juice, a fruit from an Asian tree, has the power to slow the formation of kidney stones and dissolve the smallest ones. A very practical solution for people affected by this painful condition.

A kidney stone is caused by the crystallization of substances present in the urine. These crystals (composed of calcium oxalate in the majority of cases) can then form a calculus (stone) of varying size, ranging from the size of a grain of sand to that of a golf ball.

Very small stones can be removed without problem, but larger ones disrupt the flow of urine produced by the kidneys. When a stone blocks this flow, urine collects in the kidney and the resulting increase in pressure activates the nerves in this region (iliohypogastric, ilioinguinal and genitofemoral). This results in a lightning pain, of very great intensity, which is felt in the lower back with irradiation towards the genitals.

Even if most of the stones are eliminated spontaneously, without intervention, the management of more difficult cases has fortunately improved with the development of ultrasound (extracorporeal lithotripsy) which pulverizes the stones through the skin, without invasive procedures, and allows their evacuation by natural means

12% of men and 7% of affected women

Kidney stones are estimated to affect approximately 12% of men and 7% of women, and this incidence is steadily increasing due to an increase in several risk factors (obesity, diabetes, hypertension). Unfortunately, our preventive approach to kidney stones has not changed much over the past 29: we mainly recommend people at risk of drinking lots of water, while avoiding certain foods high in oxalate such as rhubarb, spinach, tea, chocolate or almonds. This preventive strategy has its limits, however, and more effective therapeutic alternatives are necessary if we really want to reduce the incidence of kidney stones in the population.

Dissolve crystals

Results recently published in the journal Nature suggest the existence of a promising new approach to slow the growth of oxalate crystals of calcium and thus prevent stone formation.

A team of American scientists has made the interesting discovery that the addition of hydroxycitrate causes these crystals to dissolve. This unusual property is thought to be due to the ability of hydroxycitrate to bind strongly to the surface of crystals, which causes tension in their structure and leads to the release of calcium and oxalate. This anti-crystal effect of hydroxycitrate is more pronounced than that of citrate, a molecule often used for the prevention of kidney stones, but whose effectiveness is limited due to intolerable side effects in some people.

The efficacy of hydroxycitrate in preventing kidney stones remains to be established in subsequent clinical trials, but preliminary results are encouraging. The addition of the molecule to the urine of patients affected by kidney stones shows that it decreases the formation of oxalate crystals.

In parallel, administration to volunteers Mangosteen extracts, an Asian fruit very rich in hydroxycitrate, shows that the molecule is indeed secreted by the urine, which slows down the formation of crystals and the elimination of the smallest ones.


Chung J et al. Molecular modifiers reveal a mechanism of pathological crystal growth inhibition. Nature, 2016; 536: 291 – 50.

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