By Christian Drapeau, BSc., MSc.
Indigenous people in India, China, and the Amazon, have long revered the wild plant Chanca Piedra for its medicinal properties. Research Scientist and Wild Foods Expert, Christian Drapeau, herein explains the traditional use and scientific studies on Chanca piedra, along with practical knowledge how we, too, can benefit from this powerful botanical.
Chanca Piedra - Phyllanthus Niruri
Common names include: Quebra pedra, Stone Breaker, Shatter Stone, Feuilles La Fievre.
Chanca piedra is a small plant growing 12-18 inches in height, proliferating like a weed in the Amazon Basin rainforest. It is also indigenous to other tropical areas including southern India and China. Chanca piedra is a good example of morphism, the relationship between the shape of a plant and its application. It has stone-like berries under its leaves and is specifically indicated for the release of gall bladder and kidney stones.
Indigenous Traditional Use
In Spanish, chanca piedra means “stone breaker” or “shatter stone.” It has been used for generations by indigenous peoples of the Amazon as an effective remedy to eliminate gall stones, kidney stones and other kidney problems. This plant is also utilized for various conditions related to viral infections such as flu, fever, hepatitis and pulmonary infections.
Its name “feuille la fievre” means “fever leaf.” In India, where it is called Budhatri, chanca piedra is a common household remedy for asthma, bronchitis and coughing. In South America, India and China, it is also used as a digestive aid and to help eliminate colitis and intestinal parasites.
Scientific Studies Mechanism of Action
Chanca piedra has been the subject of much research to determine its active constituents and effect on human health. Its traditional uses for kidney stones and gallstones have been validated in various studies in which a chanca piedra extract exhibited a potent inhibitory effect on kidney stone formation.
More specifically, chanca piedra extract was shown to reduce the size of calcium crystals and to prevent aggregation of calcium crystals. By doing so, chanca piedra acts at the initial stage of crystal formation, keeping it to a size that promotes easy and painless elimination. Furthermore, alkaloids were also identified that had the property of specifically relaxing the smooth muscles around urinary and biliary tracts, facilitating the expulsion of stones without pain. One European study suggested up to 94% effectiveness in eliminating kidney and gall bladder stones.
In animals that were fed cholesterol, chanca piedra reduced blood cholesterol and both LDL (low density lipoprotein) and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), the two forms of cholesterol susceptible to oxidation. Chanca piedra acts by reducing the ability of the liver to synthesize cholesterol and by increasing faecal bile acid excretion. This effect on the blood and the protective effect of chanca piedra on the liver were attributed to two compounds in the plant called phyllanthin, and hypophyllanthin.
Much attention was drawn on chanca peidra in the early 1980’s after the report of its beneficial effect on hepatitis B. Subsequent studies provided mitigated results, probably due to variations in strains, origin and process of extraction.
However, in 1992 a Japanese group discovered that a simple water extract of chanca piedra contained a compound able to inhibit an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. Reverse transcriptase is an enzyme involved in the process of virus replication. During a viral infection, viruses penetrate cells and then take over the “manufacturing center” of the cell. When this happens, the cell begins making thousands of copies of the virus which are later released and spread to neighboring cells.
Reverse transcriptase is an enzyme involved in this process of virus duplication. By blocking this enzyme, chanca piedra is an exceptional antiviral natural component.
Chanca piedra was also shown in a 1995 human study to have significant diuretic and hypotensive properties, and to reduce and help normalize blood glucose in diabetic patients.
Chanca piedra has been used traditionally in tea form to facilitate the expulsion of kidney stones and to help support good liver function and healthy cholesterol metabolism.
For a free sample of Rainforest Tea with chanca piedra, please call (800) 835-0850, or e-mail: sample@AmazonProsperity.com
Amazon John is coming
to Southern California!
You are invited to our Rainforest Alive event where you’ll have the opportunity to take a visual tour of the Amazon, sample Rainforest Teas and Herbal Cocktails, and see how Eco-commerce partnerships are benefiting the Indigenous people of the Amazon Basin. Free educational event. Wed., May 12, Encinitas Community Center, doors open at 6:30 pm, program starts at 7:30 pm. Thurs., May 13, Westin Hotel, LA, doors open at 6:30 pm, program starts at 7:30 pm. Please see Calendar of Events for complete address and registration info.
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