Chanca piedra (Phyllanthus niruri), also known as the "gale of the wind," is a plant that grows in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical regions. It is commonly used as herbal medicine, especially for kidney stones and various kidney-related ailments. However, Chanca piedra has other medicinal benefits as well. In this article, we'll discuss chanca piedra and its health benefits.
What Is Chanca Piedra?
Chanca piedra is a tropical plant commonly used as an herbal remedy for kidney stones and urinary tract ailments. Because of its effectiveness in dissolving kidney stones, it is also widely referred to as a "stonebreaker."
The whole plant is used as herbal medicine, including the leaves, stems, and flowers. While it is most commonly used for its effects on kidney stones, chanca piedra has many other medicinal uses. Traditionally, it has been used for treating:
- Kidney stones
- Urinary tract infections
- Sore throat
- High blood pressure
- Upset stomach
- Fluid retention
Today, people most commonly use chanca piedra for kidney stones and gallstones.
What Are the Health Benefits of Chanca Piedra?
Chanca piedra's most impressive health benefit is its unique ability to help remove stone deposits from the kidneys and gallbladder. However, there are many other chanca piedra benefits. Some of the top chanca piedra health benefits include:
Chanca Piedra May Help Prevent and Remove Kidney Stones
Chanca piedra wasn't given the name "stonebreaker" for nothing. No other herb works as well at dissolving kidney stones as this incredible plant. Chanca piedra helps reduce kidney stones in several ways. For one thing, it is a very alkaline herb that can help prevent the formation of acidic kidney stones and may help reduce kidney stones' size.
Additionally, studies on chanca piedra have found that it helps to relax the ureters and increase urine flow, which may also support the passing of kidney stones.
In one study of over 50 participants, it was observed that chanca piedra reduced the size and number of kidney stones in two-thirds of participants. In addition, Chanca piedra has also been shown to lower levels of uric acid and urinary oxalate. These waste products play a role in the development of kidney stones. Therefore, by reducing the stores of these compounds, chanca piedra may interfere with the stone formation and help prevent and remove kidney stones.
Chanca Piedra May Help Prevent and Remove Gallstones
Gallstones are small stones in the gallbladder, usually made of cholesterol or bilirubin. The alkalizing properties of chanca piedra may play a role in preventing the formation of gallstones. In addition to preventing and dissolving kidney stones, preventing and removing gallstones is another common traditional use of chanca piedra.
However, there have not been many studies on chanca piedra and gallbladder health as there have been on its effects on kidney health.
Chanca Piedra May Prevent Gout Attacks
Gout is a general term for conditions characterized by a buildup of uric acid. This buildup commonly affects the feet but can also affect other body areas. Chanca piedra can lower uric acid levels in the body. Because of these properties, it may play a role in treating gout and preventing gout attacks characterized by severe pain and swelling in the affected area.
Chanca Piedra Is High in Antioxidants
Chanca piedra is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are compounds that fight free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause chemical reactions in the body known as "oxidation." However, too much free radical activity creates oxidative stress, damaging cells and negatively affecting your health.
Antioxidants work by donating electrons to free radical molecules. This makes the molecules more stable and prevents oxidation and oxidative stress. So, by consuming foods and herbs rich in antioxidants, you can prevent the cell damage caused by free radical exposure.
While something happening on a molecular level like oxidation may seem a bit removed from us, we are exposed to over 10,000 free radicals a day—all impacting our cellular health unless antioxidants stabilize them. This process is why consuming antioxidant-rich foods and herbs is so important.
Chanca Piedra May Have Anti-Obesity Effects
Chanca piedra may also have anti-obesity effects. These effects are attributed to a compound found in chanca piedra called gallic acid. A review examining the anti-obesity activities of gallic acid found that it protected against the inflammation and oxidative stress that commonly occur among people with obesity.
Studies on gallic acid suggest that it also reduces excessive fat storage in individuals with obesity by suppressing lipogenesis, which is the synthesis of fat from compounds like sugars in your body. Additionally, gallic acid may enhance insulin signaling.
Chanca Piedra May Reduce Inflammation
Chanca piedra may also help lower inflammation levels in the body. Inflammation is a natural immune response of the body. However, when inflammation occurs for prolonged periods, it can be destructive to your health. Chronic, low-grade inflammation is the root cause of many significant illnesses. Phytochemical compounds in chanca piedra are responsible for this herb's anti-inflammatory effects.
Chanca Piedra May Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is considered a primary risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. However, research on chanca piedra suggests that it may help lower blood pressure. This is because chanca piedra contains compounds that help relax blood vessels, which may increase blood flow, reducing blood pressure.
Chanca Piedra May Improve Liver Health
Because chanca piedra is high in potent antioxidant compounds, it may also benefit the liver. The antioxidants in chanca piedra may improve liver function by protecting the liver from cellular damage caused by free radicals. Animal and test-tube studies on chanca piedra also suggest that it may help treat hepatitis B, an inflammatory viral infection of the liver.
Chanca Piedra May Help Treat Stomach Ulcers
Stomach ulcers are most often caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. Pylori). Research on chanca piedra has revealed that it has antimicrobial activity that may help kill the H. pylori bacteria. Interestingly, the study that observed the effects of chanca piedra on H. pylori bacteria found that it did not inhibit the growth of good bacteria in the gut. This means that chanca piedra has antimicrobial effects that have the unique property of getting rid of harmful bacteria without affecting beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Chanca Piedra May Help with Pain Relief
Interestingly, studies on chanca piedra benefits have shown that this plant also possesses powerful pain-relieving qualities. So powerful that its effects were found to be several times more potent than modern pain-relief medication without causing any of the same harmful side effects.
The pain-blocking activity of this plant is attributed to a compound found in the roots, stems, and leaves of several species of Phyllanthus, including chanca piedra (Phyllanthus niruri). Author and researcher Kenneth Jones stated that:
"the extract of Phyllanthus urinaria showed about four times more potent activity than indomethacin and three times the strength of morphine against the second phase of pain, which models the stage of "inflammatory" pain. The pain model used in these tests (formalin-induced persistent pain) appears to provide a state similar to that of post-operative pain in people; the pain blockers in Phyllanthus have been identified as gallic acid, ethyl ester, and the steroidal compounds as beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol."
What Are the Active Compounds in Chanca Piedra?
The medicinal properties of plants are primarily attributed to the active compounds found within them. The primary active compounds in chanca piedra include gallic acid, ethyl ester, beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol, quercetin, rutin, geraniin, furosin, ethyl gallate, methyl gallate, and phytosterols.
Chanca Piedra Side Effects
Chanca piedra has been a traditional medicine in the Amazon rainforest for many centuries. It is considered to be a very safe and effective herb. Still, there have been some reports of side effects. Some of the chanca piedra side effects that have been reported include:
- Painful urination
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal pain
Suppose you notice any of these side effects when taking chanca piedra. In that case, it is recommended to discontinue use and consult your doctor.
The most common side effect reported is mild abdominal pain, with the others being much rarer. The side effects of painful urination or blood in the urine are related to its impact on removing kidney stones passed through the urinary tract.
Because chanca piedra may reduce blood sugar and blood pressure levels, it is also recommended to consult your doctor before use if you take blood pressure or blood sugar-lowering medication.
It is also not recommended to supplement with chanca piedra if pregnant or breastfeeding due to a lack of safety information for these groups.
How to Take Chanca Piedra
There are many ways to supplement with chanca piedra. Chanca piedra tea is a standard method, as are taking chanca piedra supplements in the form of powders, capsules, or tinctures. In addition, we include chanca piedra as one of the primary ingredients in our Kidney and Gallbladder Cleanse Tonic.
Chanca piedra is an incredible medicinal herb with many unique benefits. Some of the top chanca piedra benefits include:
- Preventing and removing kidney stones and gallstones
- Preventing gout attacks
- Providing antioxidants
- Reducing obesity and supporting weight loss
- Lowering inflammation
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving liver health
- Helping treat stomach ulcers
- Providing pain relief
Chanca piedra is considered to be a very safe herb. However, some people have experienced mild side effects from taking this herb. As with any new supplement, it is recommended to discuss with your healthcare provider whether chanca piedra is right for you.