About Chanca Piedra
Chanca piedra, or quebra pedra in Portuguese, is a small annual plant that grows in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical areas. It is a member of the genus Phyllanthus, with some confusion among various species: P. niruri, P. amarus, P. sellowianus, and P. urinaria. Some of its phytochemicals are found only in the phyllanthus genus.
It has a strong history of use in indigenous communities for kidney stones and gallstones, in fact its name means “stone breaker” or “shatter stone”. The herb is available as a tablet, tincture, capsule, decoction, or tea. Pills may be found with the ayurvedic name Phyllanthus.
Benefits of Chanca Piedra
Kidney Stones & Gallstones
Chanca piedra is a very effective treatment for kidney stones and gall stones in people and animals. One study showed that 94% of human patients eliminated their stones in a week with no side effects. It is used for kidney problems in animals such as hamsters and guinea pigs.
It also prevents stone formation, both by blocking formation of calcium crystals such as calcium oxalate and by preventing them from entering kidney cells.
Chanca piedra can heal and protect the liver, detoxify it, and balance liver enzymes. One study of children with acute hepatitis demonstrated a return to normal liver function within 5 days. It can also help in liver cancer and fatty liver, as well as jaundice. The substances phyllanthin and hypophyllanthin are believed to help protect the liver from alcohol-induced damage.
It can be beneficial for diabetes through its ability to lower blood sugar. It also shows the ability to prevent long-term problems of the nervous system and eyes related to diabetes. This may be because it contains aldose reductase inhibitors to stop the process of nerve damage.
Chanca piedra shows general ability to reduce pain. It specifically provides relief from pain of kidney stones before they are passed, possibly due to the substance geraniin.
Chanca piedra is active against Hepatitis A, B and C, as well as HIV and herpes virus. In Hepatitis B, which is the primary cause of liver cancer, it can clear up the chronic carrier state and reduce surface antigen. It also acts as a reverse transcriptase inhibitor for HIV-1.
Anti-tumor action includes both preventing and slowing tumor growth, as well as preventing mutations in the presence of known mutagens.
Other uses for chanca piedra include relief from malaria, worms and other parasites, cold and flu, digestive problems, high blood pressure, prostatitis, high cholesterol, anemia, and tuberculosis.
It also shows antibacterial properties, ability to strengthen the immune system and support the spleen, and ability to protect cells from toxins.
Individuals in the following situations should consult with a physician and/or herbalist:
- Heart condition
- Using prescription diabetes medicines, high blood pressure medicines, diuretic drugs, or heart medications
- Hypoglycemic or diabetic
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Sources & Resources
Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phyllis A. Balch, Robert Rister
Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary, James A. Duke, Rodolfo Vásquez & Vásquez Martínez Vásquez
The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs, Leslie Taylor, ND
Amazon Herbs A-Z: Herbal Recipes & Remedies, V. Osalina Berman
This post is part of the series: Amazon Rainforest Herbs
Learn about the health benefits of a series of Amazon Rainforest Herbs, based on traditional use in indigenous communities and on research studies.