Chanca piedra (Phyllanthus niruri) is a plant native to tropical coastal areas. The entire plant is used to produce an herbal supplement used in teas, capsules, liquid extracts, and tablets.
The herb is believed to have health benefits in treating ulcers, urinary tract stones, and various conditions related to the kidneys, liver, and digestive system.
Due to a lack of research, there is incomplete evidence of its safety and effectiveness for human use. Chanca piedra is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat any condition.
Chanca piedra is known by several names, including:
- Gale of the wind
The herb contains phytochemicals that may increase urine flow, destroy harmful bacteria and viruses, and reduce inflammation.
As an herbal medicine, chanca piedra is believed to be effective in treating various conditions of several body systems. However, more research needs to be done.
Urinary Tract Stones
In a 2018 study, 56 people with kidney stones were given 4.5 grams of chanca piedra per day for 12 weeks. In about two-thirds of the participants, their kidney stones decreased in size and number.
High Blood Sugar
One health benefit of chanca piedra is that its antioxidants may improve fasting blood sugar levels in certain animals. While this effect can help manage hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) in animals, more human studies are needed.
Animal studies show that chanca piedra supplements may decrease uric acid levels in humans.
Chanca piedra’s antioxidant properties may improve liver function. It may also help protect your liver from cellular damage caused by free radicals, which can cause damage when they reach high levels in your body.
Animal and test-tube studies show that the herb may also help treat hepatitis B, an inflammatory viral infection of the liver. However, more human studies are needed to determine the effects of chanca piedra on liver health.
In test-tube studies, chanca piedra extract has killed the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which causes stomach ulcers. However, more research is needed to know if a chanca piedra oral supplement would be effective against stomach ulcers in humans. Test-tube studies typically involve highly concentrated extracts applied directly to bacterial cells, which isn’t how oral chanca piedra supplements would work.
Although chanca piedra is an herb, it may pose some health risks. Side effects reported in one human study using a chanca piedra infusion included:
Additional health risks of chanca piedra may include:
Chanca piedra may lower blood sugar levels, which means it might affect blood sugar control during and after surgery. It may also slow blood clotting and increase your risk of bleeding. Stop using chanca piedra at least two weeks before a planned surgery.
While chanca piedra may reduce blood sugar and blood pressure levels, it should be used with caution if you’re already on medication for lowering blood pressure or blood sugar.
Chanca piedra may be unsafe for pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant. In large amounts, chanca piedra may prevent pregnancy, increase your risk of congenital disabilities, or cause low birth weight.
For breastfeeding women, it’s best to avoid using the herb due to a lack of safety information.
Since chanca piedra may slow blood clotting, it may cause bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.
Chanca piedra may influence blood sugar levels, which most affects people with diabetes. When using it, monitor your blood sugar regularly if you have diabetes. You should also watch for signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Amounts and Dosage
Based on results from a human study, a daily dose of 4.5 grams of powdered chanca piedra for 12 weeks may be recommended to treat kidney stones.
Since there is no research on the long-term effects of chanca piedra, it may best to limit your intake of the herbal supplement to 12 weeks or fewer.