Chanca Piedra: What is it, the benefits, and how to take it?

Eu Natural
September 18, 2020
Fact checked
Dr. Stephanie Nichols, ND

Chanca Piedra is used in traditional medicine and is believed to have a positive impact on reducing symptoms of various conditions.

We’ll be deep-diving into the origins of Chanca Piedra, the claimed benefits, and importantly, what science has to say about it! 

So, what exactly is Chanca Piedra?

phyllanthus niruri

Chanca Piedra is a stone breaker, otherwise known as an herb used to reduce kidney stones.

The scientific name for the plant is Phyllanthus Niruri.

Other names it is known as include:

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  • Seed-under-leaf
  • Gale of the Wind
  • Carry-me-seed
  • Casse-Pierre
  • Shatter stone 
  • Turi Hutan
  • Sasha Foster
  • Quebra Pedra

And that’s just to name a few! 

The plant is native to the Amazon rainforest and is also found in tropical climates around the world. Appearance-wise, the plant can grow up to two feet tall and has thin branches. Each branch is covered in lots of small, oval-shaped leaves, and small, green flowers bloom underneath.

The herb has been part of traditional medicine commonly used in India, Brazil, China, and Southeast Asian countries.

Each of the countries above use the herb to treat very different illnesses. In India, it is used to treat digestive, genitourinary, respiratory, and skin diseases. In China, they use the herb to treat hepatitis B, hypertension, edema, and sore throat. In Thailand, Latin America, and Africa it is used to cure jaundice, renal calculus, and malaria.

The whole plant can be used to make medicine, and it is commonly available as a capsule, tea, or liquid extract.

What are the benefits of Chanca Piedra?

As well as the uses above, Chance Piedra has strong antioxidant properties, and many suggest that it can help with:

  • Bladder infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Painful or heavy menstrual Bleeding
  • High blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Jaundice

More studies are needed to confirm just how effective Chanca Piedra is on the above. However, research does conclude that the herb has a positive effect on flushing out kidney stones.

Some studies suggest that the herb is a Hepatoprotective agent and, therefore, useful in treating liver disorders like chronic viral hepatitis.

Chanca Piedra, kidney stones and studies

kidney stones

So, what does science have to say about the effects Chanca Piedra has on the kidney stones?

There have been several studies on the impact of Chanca Piedra on kidney stones. One of the most critical studies found that kidney stones decreased in 67.8% of the 56 study participants.  The study was divided into three stages. The first stage consisted of ingesting an infused tea with the chanca piedra extract for 12 weeks. The second stage was a week of rest without using the plant after each week it was consumed. The final step included 12 weeks without ingesting chanca piedra; this is known as the washout stage.

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Another study, undertaken by the Faculty of Sciences at the University of the Republic of Uruguay has shown how Chanca Piedra breaks down kidney stones.

The steps include:

  • Reducing the joining of crystals (those stone-forming substances in your urine)
  • Reducing the substances that produce those crystals in the first place (like calcium oxalate)
  • Modifying the structure of the kidney stone
  • Interfering with the kidney stone as it forms
  • Relaxing the ureter (for an easier, less painful passing)

The effects of Chanca Piedra and the liver

man with liver pain

Several studies have also been undertaken to understand the effects of Chanca Piedra on the liver.

One study used rats to investigate the effects Chance Piedra has on liver damage caused by paracetamol (acetaminophen).

The results indicated that the herb could be useful in treating liver damage; however, further studies are necessary to confirm this would also be the result in humans.

The effects of Chanca Piedra and lowering high blood pressure

blood pressure check

Chance Piedra was traditionally used for its effects on hypotension*, otherwise known as low blood pressure. One study in 1995 gave human hypertensive subjects Chanca Piedra leaf powder in capsules and reported a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure, a substantial increase in urine volume, and urine and serum sodium excretion.

While there have been multiple health-related studies on Chanca Piedra, they have predominantly used animals. This means, we cannot conclude whether the positive effects would be the same for the human body.

How to take Chanca Piedra

There is currently no singular recommended daily dosage of Chanca Piedra. Instead, different dosages are used depending on what health condition it is helping with.

Capsules are typically available in 400-1000mg quantities, and liquid extracts are also becoming more popular sold in 30ml quantities to dilute with water.

From one of the studies we explored earlier, It is suggested that 2g daily of a specific Chanca Piedra product for at least three months has been used to resolve kidney stones.

Also, a Chanca Piedra tea containing 4.5g of dried extract dissolved in 250mL of water, twice daily for 12 weeks has been used.

Consult a healthcare professional or herbalist to get an idea of the dosage that is best for you. 

There have also been no studies to imply that there are withdrawal issues upon discontinuing the herb. 

What should I look for in Chanca Piedra?

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate herbal supplements, so make sure to look for products that are certified by reputable third party agencies. U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF International, or are well-known third-party agencies that evaluate herbal and natural products.

How should I store Chanca Piedra?

Chanca Piedra is available as a tea, capsule, or liquid. Store any of the three varieties in a cool and dry place.

Make sure to check the expiry date on the chanca piedra supplement and consume it before this time.

Are there any side effects of Chanca Piedra?

The most commonly reported side effect is stomach pain.

There have also been reports of headaches, dizziness, and diarrhea in some cases.

Some reports state that pregnant women should not consume Chanca Piedra, women trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding women.

As Chanca Piedra has also can lead to lower blood sugar levels, if you are already taking medication for this, then take the supplement with caution. 

If you have any health conditions, do consult your healthcare provider before consuming the extract in any form. 

Alternative remedies and pain relief for kidney stones

Alongside using Chanca Piedra to help flush out kidney stones, there are several other things you might also want to consider to help relieve pain and avoid developing more stones in the future.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), acetaminophen (Tylenol), or naproxen (Aleve) are commonly used as pain relief for kidney stones until they pass. These are available over-the-counter.

Natural recommendations to help kidney stones pass include

  • Drink enough water - the recommended intake is eight standard 8-ounce cups. Drinking extra water dilutes the substances in urine that leads to a stone forming.
  • Watch sodium intake - a high sodium intake increases the amount of calcium in your urine, leading to kidney stones.
  • Avoid fizzy drinks - A study has found a link between carbonated beverages and the development of kidney stones.
  • Include citrus in your diet - citric acid from fruit helps prevent small stones from developing into a bigger problem. It coats the stones, so another material is unable to attach and build onto them. Drinking half a cup of lemon juice helps your kidneys release oxalate build up painlessly.
  • Avoid high-oxalate foods - oxalates can lead to the development of kidney stones. Many foods contain oxalate, so it’s difficult to avoid it altogether. Some foods that are higher in oxalate include:
    • Spinach,
    • Almonds and Cashews,
    • Beetroot,
    • Black beans,
    • Potatoes,
    • Cacao Powder,
    • Bran cereals,
    • Raspberries

If you suffer from kidney stones, it’s good to avoid or limit your intake of the foods above.

The takeaway

While Chanca Piedra is used to help alleviate many different types of illnesses worldwide. Current studies suggest that it is scientifically most effective in decreasing kidney stones. If you want to discuss the benefit it has on a specific health issue, consult your healthcare provider or an approved medical herbalist.

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