Chanca Piedra (Phyllanthus niruri)

Promotes optimal liver, kidney and gall bladder function.

Gall stones and kidney stones are a major health problem in the United States. In fact, 20,000,000 in the U.S.A. suffer from gall stones and 600,000 are treated by medical doctors each year for this condition. If all of the people in the U.S. who have gall bladder surgery or laser treatment for this condition each year were to use Chanca Piedra instead to eliminate their stones, $5 billion dollars per year would be saved!

Chanca Piedra is a composite name, "chanca" meaning "to break" in Quechua and "piedra" meaning "stone" in Spanish. It is the popular name given to several small shrub-like plants in the Phyllanthus genus (botanical family Euphorbiaceae) , including Phyllanthus niruri, and Phyllanthus stipulatis. These two species have the same medicinal effects and look identical, except for their seeds, by which the botanist can tell them apart.

A third species Phyllanthus amarus has been considered identical (perhaps not a different species at all) to Phyllanthus niruri. These species of Phyll anthus have been proven in scientific research to have antihepatotoxic, antispasmodic, antiviral, bactericidal, febrifugal, and hypoglycemic activity.

Traditional Uses:

Chanca Piedra got its name because one of the outstanding qualities of this herb, according to Peruvians is to break up and expell both kidney stones and gall stones. It is believed to help stimulate the production of bile and to promote healthy liver and gall bladder function. It is also traditionally used to clear obstruction throughout the various internal organs of the body by promoting the elimination of mucous and stones.
In South America, chanca piedra is used to treat many conditions. It is used to treat edema and excess uric acid, as well as to treat stones of the gall bladder, kidney, and bladder. In some areas it is used to treat malaria, typhoid fever, flu, colds, constipation, dysentery, or stomach ache. In Peru, the plant is shredded and boiled and then lemon juice is added as a tonic for the liver (taken in small amounts four times daily). It is also used there, for inflammation of the bowels (IBS), pimples, diabetes, and ulcers, in addition to its use for stones. In the United States, it has been found to be very effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome.

Chanca piedra has also traditionally been used for diabetes, prostate disorders, asthma, fever, tumors, bladder infections, as a diuretic, to remove excess uric acid (as in gout), for painful joints, jaundice, pimples, indigestion, constipation, vaginitis, viruses of the reproductive tract, proctitis, poor circulation, excessive phlegm, bronchitis, and coughs. It is also considered an anti-spasmodic and muscle relaxant, specific to the urinary tract system.

Traditionally it is also used as an anodyne (pain reliever), apertif (appetite stimulator), a digestive, carminative (helps gas to be expelled from stomach and intestines), and vermifuge (expels worms and other parasites from the intestinal tract), diuretic, and emmenagogue (stimulates menstrual flow).

Doctors' Experiences:

Nicole Maxwell, the author of the groundbreaking Witch Doctor's Apprentice, first published in 1961 and based on research done in the 1950's in the Peruvian rainforest, considers break stone (chanca piedra) one of the most important healing herbs which she encountered in the rainforest through her interactions with shamans and Amazonian Indians. She later met a German doctor who had been using chanca piedra in his medical practice in Germany who told her that 94% of all the cases he encountered among his patients of gall stones and kidney stones were "completely eliminated" within one or two weeks. For several hours during the actual process of elimination of the stones, some patients experienced stomach cramps. Another physician whom Maxwell interviewed about his use of chanca piedra for his patients said that the plant worked 100% of the time and without any side effects.

In France, chanca piedra has been used for some time to treat gall and kidney stones. It is part of a pharmaceutical product called Pilosuryl, which is sold as a diuretic.
Liver Detoxification

Modern life has stressed the liver of the average person. Chanca piedra can be used, cycling on and off throughout the year, to assist the liver in performing its normal function of detoxification of the body. Liver stressors include eating excessive dairy, meat, and sugar, fried fast foods, processed foods with preservatives, antibiotics, pesticides, chlorinated drinking water, drinking water containing parasites, the use of hormones in young women as contraception and in menopausal women as a means of preventing osteoporosis and heart disease, the use of steroid hormones to combat chronic inflammatory diseases, and the use of toxic chemotherapies to combat cancer.
Research Findings

Research done in Brazil at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in 1984 on chanca piedra revealed an alkaloid (phyllanthoside) in the leaves and stem with strong antispasmodic activity. It served as a relaxing agent for smooth muscles and they concluded that its spasmolytic action probably accounted for the efficacy of chanca piedra in expelling stones.

Brazilian researchers have also discovered powerful, long-lasting pain-blocking activity in the roots, stems and leaves of several different species of Phyllanthus, including Phyllanthus niruri. In a book called Cat's Claw: Healing Vine of Peru, the author Kenneth Jones states in a section of the book devoted to chanca piedra:

In the test system used, 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 by the Brazilians as gallic acid ethyl ester and the steroidal compounds Beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol.

Since the 1960’s there has been growing body of published information is on Chanca Piedra. Indian and Brazilian research groups were the first to conduct these studies since the plant was indigenous to their areas with a long history of use by its inhabitants. In some of the published research, scientists make little or no distinction between P. niruri and P. amarus because of the very similar phytochemical make up of both plants. In fact, some reference are found in which scientists believe that it is one species of plant with two botanical names, but there are botanists who would argue this point. The antispasmodic activity of alkaloids in Chanca Piedra were documented by Brazilian researchers in the mid 1980’s which explains the popular use of the plant for kidney and bladder stones. The alkaloid extract demonstrated smooth muscle relaxation specific to the urinary and biliary tract which the researchers surmised facilitates the expulsion of kidney or bladder calculi.

Research in Japan and India in the 1980’s has demonstrated the liver -healing properties of chanca piedra. The primary compounds responsible are phyllanthin, hypophyllanthin and triacontanal. Glycosides found in Chanca Piedra demonstrated Aldose reductase (AR) inhibitory activity in studies conducted by a Japanese research group in 1988 and 1989.

The analgesic activity of Chanca Piedra was demonstrated in 1994 and 1995 by another research group in Brazil. The diuretic, hypotensive and hypoglycemic effects of Chanca Piedra were documented in a 1995 human study which showed a significant diuretic effect, a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure in non-diabetic hypertensives and female subjects. Blood glucose was also significantly reduced in diabetic patients taking Chanca Piedra for 10 days. It is also considered an immune system stimulator.

Of particular note, Chanca Piedra gained world-wide attention in the late 1980’s due to the plant’s antiviral activity against Hepatitis B. Preliminary clinical trials with P. niruri on children with infective hepatitis using an Indian drug containing Phyllanthus niruri as the main ingredient showed promising results which fueled the subsequent in vitro and in vivo studies. The in vitro inactivation of Hepatitis B by Chanca Piedra was reported in India in 1982. A study that followed indicated that in vivo, Chanca Piedra eliminated hepatitis B in mammals within 3-6 weeks. The subsequent clinical results concerning the use of Chanca Piedra for hepatitis has been conflicting and this may have much to do with the extract standardization, species used and location harvested and resulting levels of active constituents in samples used. Several subsequent studies in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s failed to produce any effect against hepatitis but other research conducted from 1990 to 1995 has indicated that Chanca Piedra does demonstrate antiviral activity against Hepatitis B.

Phyllanthus niruri is considered, based on accumulated research, as the most effective natural, non-toxic remedy for the Hepatitis B virus, a pathogen now carried by 300 to 500 million people in the world. Hepatitis B is not only disabling in its acute phase, but it can remain in the body and contribute decades later to the development of liver cancer.
The most recent research on Chanca Piedra reveals that its antiviral activity extends to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A Japanese research group discovered Phyllanthus niruri's HIV-1 reverse transcriptase inhibition properties in 1992 with a simple water extract of the plant. Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute isolated at least one of the constituents in the plant responsible for this activity--a novel compound which they named “niruside" and described in a 1996 study.

Toxicity, Side Effects:

There has been no toxicity reported in any of the clinical studies, nor have there been any side effects reported, except for an occasional case of cramps during the expulsion of stones.


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Extract Capsules

(Chanca Piedra) Phyllanthus niruri
(60 500mg capsules)

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Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, nor is this information meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary.