Citrus fruits and juices are a known natural source of dietary citrate. Of all the citrus juices, lemon juice appears to have the highest concentration of citrate. Therefore, lemonade therapy has been proposed as a potential treatment for patients with hypocitraturia. We retrospectively evaluated the impact of long-term lemonade therapy on urinary metabolic parameters and stone formation in patients with hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis.
A total of 32 patients were identified as being on long-term lemonade therapy for hypocitraturic nephrolithiasis. The 11 patients on lemonade therapy who met the entrance criteria for evaluation were compared to an age and sex matched control group of patients treated with oral slow release potassium citrate. Pre-therapy and post-therapy urinary parameters were recorded for both groups. The effect of lemonade therapy on stone burden and stone formation rate was calculated. New stone formation was defined as passage, surgical removal or appearance of new stones, or an increase in the size of existing stones on radiographic imaging.
Four males and 7 females (mean age 52.7 years) were treated with lemonade therapy for a mean of 44.4 months. The control group consisted of 4 males and 7 females (mean age 54.5 years) treated with potassium citrate for a mean of 42.5 months. Of the 11 patients on lemonade 10 demonstrated increased urinary citrate levels (mean increase +383 mg per day, p <0.05). All potassium citrate therapy subjects demonstrated an increase in urinary citrate (mean increase +482 mg per day, p <0.0001). Mean pretreatment and posttreatment stone burden in the lemonade group was 37.2 and 30.4 mm(2), respectively (p >0.05). During lemonade therapy the stone formation rate decreased from 1.00 to 0.13 stones per patient per year (p >0.05).
Due to its significant citraturic effect, lemonade therapy appears to be a reasonable alternative for patients with hypocitraturia who cannot tolerate first line therapy. Future study in the form of a prospective, randomized trial is needed to validate these findings.