Chanca Piedra Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects
Chanca piedra is a tropical Amazonian plant that has long been revered in traditional medicine. Though the use of chanca piedra for kidney stones is well-known, it can do far more for your health including protecting your liver, reducing inflammation, and improving heart function. But does it really help? Keep reading to learn more.
Ahead, we’ll explore the potential chanca piedra benefits according to scientific studies. But before we get into how chanca piedra can help with human health, it’s worth knowing the basics of this medicinal herb a little bit more. So, let’s get started.
What is chanca piedra?
Chanca piedra is a member of the large plant genus Phyllanthus that grows in the vast rainforests of the Amazon and other tropical regions worldwide. Mainly two different species of this plant family - Phyllanthus amarus and Phyllanthus niruri are referred to as chanca piedra which, in Spanish, literally means “stone breaker”, alluding to its potential to dissolve stones such as kidney stones and gall stones.
Chanca piedra has long been used in several traditional and folk medicines in various cultures, especially by indigenous people of the Amazon, India, and China. Today, various parts of the plant including its flowers, leaves, and stems are widely used to prepare different supplementary forms such as chanca piedra pills, chanca piedra extracts, chanca piedra teas, and so on.
In supplementary use, chanca piedra has been reported to be useful in a range of maladies, especially those related to the urinary tract, liver, and digestive system. Let’s take a bit look at what bioactive compounds and medicinal actions are found in chanca piedra.
Bioactive compounds and medicinal properties of chanca piedra
Chanca piedra is rich in a wide variety of biologically active plant compounds, all of which have been shown to possess significant pharmacological properties. Some of the most prevalent ones may include:
- Flavonoids - such as quercetin, astragalin, nirunin, rutin, gallocatechin, and kaempferol. These components have noticeable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
- Lignans - such as hinokinin, hypophyllanthin, niranthin, and phyllanthin with significant health-promoting properties, especially related to the heart and menopause.
- Tannins - like corilagin, repandusinic acid, and geraniin. These components possess significant antioxidant and antimicrobial properties that can help stave off free radicals from causing damage and fight against bacteria and viruses respectively.
In addition, chanca piedra also contains considerable amounts of polyphenols, alkaloids, coumarins, saponins, and terpenoids, all of which synergistically produce several therapeutic benefits in the body.
Potential chanca piedra benefits
Chanca piedra has been found to produce several favorable effects on different bodily systems ranging from urinary health to digestive health to cardiovascular health. Although a large number of potential benefits of chanca piedra have been claimed through traditional uses, modern research is still working in order to understand its full potential and many benefits are yet to be explored.
However, here are some benefits of chanca piedra that are deemed to be possibly effective so far:
Chanca piedra for kidney stones
Chanca piedra is best known as a safe natural cure for kidney stones, which is how it got its name “stone breaker”. Multiple studies, including human clinical trials and lab research, suggest that this herb seems to be a promising agent to dissolve kidney stones naturally.
A 2018 clinical trial investigating the effects of chanca piedra on patients with kidney stones concluded that the consumption of chanca piedra is effective in eliminating urinary calculi by promoting urination and decreasing stone-forming ingredients such as oxalate and uric acid in the body.
Chanca piedra for gallstones
Chanca piedra has traditionally been used to treat and prevent gallstones for ages. The benefits of chanca piedra for gallstones seem to come from the same mechanism of action how it works on kidney stones. However, more scientific evidence is needed to confirm this effect.
Chanca piedra for liver health
Chanca piedra has been shown to have noticeable hepatoprotective properties that can help with liver health in many different ways. The health benefits of chanca piedra for liver health appear to come from its tremendous antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Chanca piedra can help reduce and prevent liver damage caused by harmful toxins, alcohol, and drugs by reducing oxidative stress, and helps keep the liver functioning optimally. Moreover, It can also help with managing various liver conditions such as jaundice and viral hepatitis like hepatitis B and C.
According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, chanca piedra has significant pharmacological potential to improve and protect liver function due to its novel hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant compounds.
Chanca piedra for cardiovascular health
Chanca piedra and the biologically active components it contains appear to be highly beneficial for cardiovascular health. It can help protect the heart and blood vessels in a number of ways such as:
- Reducing high blood pressure
- Balancing cholesterol levels by reducing bad cholesterols such as triglycerides, LDL, and VLDL and enhancing good cholesterols like HDL
- Reducing excessive platelet clumping
- Keeping blood vessels relaxed
- Reducing oxidative stress
- Improving heart function
A 1995 clinical study in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology showed that chanca piedra has positive effects in reducing high blood pressure and blood glucose and increasing urine volume and therefore, could be useful as a potential hypotensive, hypoglycemic, and diuretic natural agent for humans.
Another 2002 animal study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology indicated that chanca piedra has a lipid-lowering activity that significantly reduced LDL and VLDL levels in experimental animals.
Chanca piedra in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, the Indian traditional system of medicine, the use of chanca piedra in various forms is well-documented and has been found beneficial for a range of reasons, including:
- Improving vata dosha (air) in the body
- Enhancing the healing capacity
- Improving the health of blood
- Fighting against viruses and bacteria
- Improving respiratory function
- Improving digestive health
How to use chanca piedra and possible dosage
There are various forms of chanca piedra available out there in the market including chanca piedra powders, chanca piedra pills, chanca piedra extract, and more. A dose of supplementary pills, capsules, and liquid extract often contains anywhere from 500 mg to 1500 mg of the standardized extract of the herb.
Chanca piedra can be recommended on both an empty stomach and with food. The exact dose and method of use depends on the specific health needs and goals and may widely vary from person to person.
Therefore, always work with a licensed naturopathic doctor or healthcare provider to determine what dosage and method of use would be the best for your specific health condition.
Side effects of chanca piedra and precautions
Chanca piedra is likely safe and well-tolerable when taken as recommended. Side effects are rare and easily reversible such as nausea, and stomach pain.
Besides, chanca piedra may slow down blood clotting and may increase the risk of bleeding in people with such conditions. It may also cause an electrolyte imbalance in some people by reducing potassium levels.
Moreover, chanca piedra may interact with certain medications such as anticoagulants, antihypertensives, diuretics, and antidiabetic medications. Finally, there’s not enough data available on whether this herb is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Therefore, it’s always best to ask for direct medical supervision from a licensed healthcare professional prior to using chanca piedra supplements, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or on medications for any underlying health issues.
Chanca piedra is a tropical medicinal herb that has a long history of medicinal use to manage and prevent various health conditions. It has been found to be a safe and effective natural remedy for kidney stones, gallstones, liver problems, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and digestive complaints, just to name a few. Consider working with a professional naturopathic doctor to determine how much chanca piedra would be the best for your specific health condition.