Whole World Botanicals

CHANCA PIEDRA (BREAK-STONE):
&GALL BLADDER PAIN

For centuries native Peruvians have relieved their gall bladder pain and expelled their gall stones by drinking Chanca Piedra (Break-Stone) tea.  This herb (botanical name Phyllanthus niruri) grows in the Amazon rainforest. Related species with the same properties also grow in India and in China.

Gallstones are a major health problem in the United States.  In fact, more than half a million people in the U.S. have their gall bladders removed every year for this condition. Medical doctors practicing natural medicine and other holistic health care practitioners consider much of this surgery unnecessary.  With the recent introduction of this popular Amazon rainforest plant, consumers and health care practitioners have acquired a powerful plant ally for helping to maintain optimal gall bladder, liver, kidney, and bladder health. 

Chanca Piedrais 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, most notably, Phyllanthus niruri. 

Break Stone

Traditional Uses
Chanca Piedra is a “premier” herb in the therapeutic herbal tradition of Peru, where knowledge of rainforest remedies spread to Andean civilizations, including the Incas. It is believed to break up and expel both kidney stones, and gall stones, to help stimulate the production of bile and to promote healthy liver and gall bladder function. It is also traditionally used to clear obstructions throughout the various internal organs of the body by promoting the elimination of mucous, phlegm and stones.

Relieving the Pain produced by Kidney Stones and Gall Bladder Stones
The analgesic activity of Chanca Piedra was demonstrated in 1994 and 1995 by another research group in Brazil who 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 as Beta-sitosterol and stigmasterol.

Research from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil) 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.  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. 

Doctors' Experiences with Phyllanthus niruri
Nicole Maxwell, the author of the groundbreaking Witch Doctor's Apprentice, first published in 1961, and based on research done in the 1950s in the Peruvian rainforest, considers 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 gallstones 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.  However, I have come across a few people with kidney stones the size of golf balls. Clearly stones of this size are not going to make it out of the body at that size.  One man reported to me that he was using Chanca Piedra for his huge stone and that it was breaking down little by little over the period of a year. His doctor did not object since he was symptom-free.

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

Traditional Preparation and Usage: The whole plant, including leaves, stems and root are shredded and simmered for 10 – 15 minutes (about one gram or one tsp. per cup of tea). For gall stones, it is taken in small amounts 3 or 4 times daily if there is an immediate and urgent need.  Otherwise a cup of tea is taken once or twice a day or several times a week as a maintenance dose.  Lemon juice can be added as a tonic for the liver. 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Barros, M. E., Schor, N. Boim, M.A., “Effects of an aqueous extract from Phyllanthus niruri on calcium oxalate crystallization in vitro,” Urological Research, 2003, Feb. (6), 374-9,

Brazilian Journal of Medical Biological Research, 1984, Vol. 17, (2-4): 313-21, “Antispasmodic effects of an alkaloid extracted from Phyllanthus sellowianus: a comparative study with papaverine.”

Gorski, Franco, Correa, Clovis R., Filho, Valdir C., Yunes, Rosendo A.. Calixto, Joao B., “Potent Antinociceptive Activity of a Hydroalcoholic Extract of Phyllanthus corcovadensis,” Department of Pharmacology and Department of Chemistry, Universidad Federal de Santa Catarina 80049, Florionopolis, Brazil.

Khanna, A.K., Rizvi, F., Chander, R., “Lipid lowering activity of Phyllanthus niruri in hyperlipemic rats,” Journal of Ethhn
Santos, Adair, Filho, V. C., Yunes, R.A., Calixto, J. B., “Analysis of the mechanisms underlying the antinociceptive effect of the extracts of plants from the genus Phyllanthus,” General Pharmacology, 1995,Nov., Vol. 26 (7), 1499-1506.

Santos, Adair, R. S. Rosendo, Waldir C., Yunes, Rosendo A. Calixto, Joao B. “Further Studies on the Antinociceptive Action of the Hydroalcoholic Extracts from Plants of the Genus Phyllanthus,” Ibid.

Santos, Adair, Filho, Valdir C., Niero, Rivaldo, Vianna, Ana M., Moreno, Fabio N., Campos, Maria M., Yunes, Rosendo A., Calixto, Joao B., “Analgesic Effects of Callus Culture Extracts from Selected Species of Phyllanthus in Mice,” Ibid.

Wang, B. E., “Treatment of Chronic Liver Diseases  with traditional Chinese medicine,” Journal of Gastroenterol Hepatology, 2000, May: 15.  Suppl  E 67-70/