Gravel root is an herb. The bulb, root, and parts that grow above the ground are used to make medicine.
Despite serious safety concerns, gravel root is used for urinary tract problems such as urinary or kidney stones; infections of the bladder, urethra, and prostate; and painful urination.
People also use gravel root for arthritis-like pain (rheumatism) and gout, as well as for fever from malaria, dengue virus, or typhus. Gravel root is also used to reduce stomach acid, increase urine flow, cause vomiting, and cause sweating; and as a stimulant and tonic.
How does it work?
Gravel root might work for certain conditions by reducing swelling (inflammation).
Side Effects & Safety
There’s a lot of concern about using gravel root as medicine, because it contains chemicals called hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which may block blood flow in the veins and cause liver damage. Hepatotoxic PAs might also cause cancer and birth defects. Gravel root preparations that are not certified and labeled “hepatotoxic PA-free” are considered LIKELY UNSAFE.
It’s also LIKELY UNSAFE to apply gravel root to broken skin. The dangerous chemicals in gravel root can be absorbed quickly through broken skin and can lead to dangerous body-wide toxicity. Steer clear of skin products that aren’t certified and labeled “hepatotoxic PA-free.”
There is not enough information to know if it’s safe to apply gravel root to unbroken skin. It’s best to avoid use.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It’s LIKELY UNSAFE to use gravel root preparations that might contain hepatotoxic PAs during pregnancy. These products might cause birth defects and liver damage.
It is also LIKELY UNSAFE to use gravel root preparations that might contain hepatotoxic PAs if you are breast-feeding. These chemicals can pass into breast-milk and might harm the nursing infant.
It’s not known whether products that are certified hepatotoxic PA-free are safe to use during pregnancy or breast-feeding. Stay in the safe side and avoid using any gravel root preparation if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Gravel root may cause an allergic reaction in people who are allergic to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking gravel root.
Liver disease: There is concern that the hepatotoxic PAs in gravel root might make liver disease worse.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Lithium interacts with GRAVEL ROOT
Gravel root might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking gravel root might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.
- Medications that increase break down of other medications by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inducers) interacts with GRAVEL ROOT
Gravel root is broken down by the liver. Some chemicals that form when the liver breaks down gravel root can be harmful. Medications that cause the liver to break down gravel root might enhance the toxic effects of chemicals contained in gravel root.
Some of these medicines include carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), rifampin, rifabutin (Mycobutin), and others.
The appropriate dose of gravel root depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for gravel root. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.