Chanca piedra (Phyllanthus niruri) is a plant from the Amazon rainforest that has provided naturopaths with a powerful, plant-based ally for supporting bladder, kidney, gallbladder, and liver health. Traditionally, chanca piedra is viewed as a health supplement that promotes the liver’s normal function by aiding its detoxification efforts to purge harmful substances.
Chanca Piedra, Gallstones, and Kidney Stones
Chanca Piedra has been used by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon for generations to support the elimination of gallstones and kidney stones. In Ayurvedic medicine, chanca piedra is thought to hold the most promise against kidney stone formation. Although long-term randomized clinical trials are necessary to confirm therapeutic properties, some preliminary studies suggest chanca piedra may discourage stones in the gallbladder and kidneys and, indeed, have potential to provide defense against kidney stones. A 2002 study found that chanca piedra stimulates bile secretion of the liver. Extra bile helps the digestion process, this benefits nutrient absorption, as well as waste elimination.
Chanca Piedra and the Liver
Traditional Chinese medicine has always cited chanca piedra as a herb that supports liver health. The Department of Chemistry at Bose Institute in India conducted an animal study that investigated the liver protecting action of chanca piedra against acetaminophen toxicity. The results showed that a protein in chanca piedra protects liver tissues against oxidative stress, probably by increasing antioxidant defenses. Study results from the Patel Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research suggest compounds in chanca piedra may be a valuable component to a multi-herb, liver-support formulation.
Antioxidant Activity of Chanca Piedra
Chanca piedra has been evaluated for antioxidant activity and its response to high blood pressure and high blood sugar. The high phenolic content of chanca piedra has shown antioxidant activity, which has been found to support balanced blood sugar and normal blood pressure.[6, 7, 8] This has created excitement about the potential of chanca piedra during times of distress. In one study researchers noted that chanca piedra engages an enhanced antioxidant defense system.
Action Against Harmful Organisms
Water extracts of chanca piedra are selectively toxic to some types of harmful organisms, without affecting beneficial organisms. The Universidad de la República studied 28 plant and algae species for activity against harmful organisms. Researchers noted that the most interesting activity was observed in chanca piedra. This observation and conclusion was duplicated by researchers at the University of Malaysia.
- Kieley S, et al. Ayurvedic medicine and renal calculi. J Endourol. 2008 Aug;22(8):1613-6. doi: 10.1089/end.2008.0020.
- Boim MA, et al. Phyllanthus niruri as a promising alternative treatment for nephrolithiasis. Int Braz J Urol. 2010 Nov-Dec;36(6):657-64; discussion 664. Review.
- Wang BE. Treatment of chronic liver diseases with traditional Chinese medicine. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2000 May;15 Suppl:E67-70.
- Bhattacharjee R, Sil PC. The protein fraction of Phyllanthus niruri plays a protective role against acetaminophen induced hepatic disorder via its antioxidant properties. Phytother Res. 2006 Jul;20(7):595-601.
- Tatiya AU, et al. Hepatoprotective effect of poly herbal formulation against various hepatotoxic agents in rats. Pharmacognosy Res. 2012 Jan;4(1):50-6. doi: 10.4103/0974-8490.91040.
- Ranilla LG, et al. Phenolic compounds, antioxidant activity and in vitro inhibitory potential against key enzymes relevant for hyperglycemia and hypertension of commonly used medicinal plants, herbs and spices in Latin America. Bioresour Technol. 2010 Jun;101(12):4676-89. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2010.01.093. Epub 2010 Feb 25.
- Srividya N, Periwal S. Diuretic, hypotensive and hypoglycaemic effect of Phyllanthus amarus. Indian J Exp Biol. 1995 Nov;33(11):861-4.
- Okoli CO, et al. Studies on the possible mechanisms of antidiabetic activity of extract of aerial parts of Phyllanthus niruri. Pharm Biol. 2011 Mar;49(3):248-55. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2010.501456.
- Sharma P, et al. Modulatory influence of Phyllanthus niruri on oxidative stress, antioxidant defense and chemically induced skin tumors. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2011;30(1):43-53.
- Ranilla LG, et al. Antimicrobial activity of an Amazon medicinal plant (Chancapiedra) (Phyllanthus niruri L.) against Helicobacter pylori and lactic acid bacteria. Phytother Res. 2012 Jun;26(6):791-9. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3646. Epub 2011 Oct 28.
- Faral-Tello P, et al. Cytotoxic, virucidal, and antiviral activity of South American plant and algae extracts. ScientificWorldJournal. 2012;2012:174837. doi: 10.1100/2012/174837. Epub 2012 Apr 24.
- Amin ZA, et al. Assessment of in vitro antioxidant, antibacterial and immune activation potentials of aqueous and ethanol extracts of Phyllanthus niruri. J Sci Food Agric. 2012 Jul;92(9):1874-7. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.5554. Epub 2012 Jan 9.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.