Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, and More

Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, and More

Chanca piedra (Phyllanthus niruri) is a plant that has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries. It is referred to by many different names, including gale of the wind, shatter stone, and carry-me-seed. 

Naturally found in tropical areas of the world, chanca piedra is a common ingredient in herbal remedies for kidney stones. The Spanish name chanca piedra translates to stone breaker.

Besides kidney stone treatment, people practicing Ayurvedic or folk medicine have historically used chanca piedra for its supposed antiviral, antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, and liver-protective properties. In those alternative medicine practices, chanca piedra has been used to treat various conditions, including hepatitis B, stomach disorders, and bladder infections.

However, modern evidence on the effectiveness of chanca piedra is lacking—even when it comes to the plant’s main use against kidney stones.

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There have been claims that chanca piedra can help treat a number of health conditions, including gonorrhea and diabetes. However, research is limited to support these claims. 

For most conditions, there isn’t enough reliable evidence to determine whether chanca piedra would be effective. Most studies on the potential benefits of the plant have been done in animals or cells; additional clinical research is needed to determine how well it works, if at all, in humans.

The one condition research suggests chanca piedra might help with is kidney stones. Kidney stones are solid pieces of material that can form in the kidneys when your urine has high levels of certain minerals, such as calcium. As the stone moves from your kidney and through the tubes that connect to your bladder, the stones can block the flow of urine. This blockage can cause pain in your abdomen or the side of your back.

While research is mixed, most studies have shown that taking chanca piedra might help you pass a kidney stone through your system, in part by decreasing the stone’s size. For instance, one small study that included 56 adults showed that 68% of people who took a “stonebreaker tea” twice a day for 12 weeks had fewer kidney stones. The stonebreaker tea was 250 milliliters (mL) of water infused with a tea bag that contained 4.5 grams of chanca piedra dry extract.

Whether chanca piedra can help treat kidney stones may depend on factors like how severe the stone is, its location, and the formula and dose of chanca piedra used.  

Because it is not a traditional medicine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved chanca piedra to treat kidney stones or any other condition. 

The chanca piedra plant grows 30-40 centimeters (cm) tall and has green, oblong leaves that are 7-12 cm long. Each stem has several tiny, off-white greenish seed flowers. The entire plant is used for its supposed medicinal benefits. The active ingredients are extracted from the plant and are available for use in the following forms:

  • Tea sachets/bags
  • Capsules
  • Tablets
  • Liquid concentrate

The tea sachets have been the most often used form in studies measuring the effectiveness of chanca piedra.


There are no standard dosages for chanca piedra. Different products offer different doses.

Researchers have used various dosages when testing the plant’s effectiveness. In one study of its effect on liver function, people took one 500-milligram capsule of chanca piedra twice a day for four weeks. In another clinical study of its effects on kidney stones, people infused a 4.5-gram tea sachet of chanca piedra in 250 mL of water and drank it twice daily for 12 weeks.

Follow the recommended dosage as listed on the labels unless your healthcare provider has instructed differently. 

Chanca piedra appears safe when taken orally in doses of up to 2 grams daily for up to three months. Further research is needed to determine if it’s safe to take on a daily schedule for longer than three months. 

It may not be safe to take chanca piedra before or during pregnancy, especially at high doses. Animal studies suggest the supplement may have contraceptive effects, making it harder to become pregnant if you are trying. Chanca piedra may also increase the risk of low birth weight or birth defects. 

There’s not enough information to support whether it is safe to take this supplement while breastfeeding, so it’s recommended you avoid it during that stage.

It’s important to follow the directions for use as listed on the label. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting chanca piedra or any other supplement. 

Potential Drug Interactions

If you’re currently taking medications for health conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension) or diabetes, you’ll want to talk with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before starting chanca piedra. 

Medications that can potentially interact with chanca piedra include: 

  • Anticoagulants: Chanca piedra is thought to have anti-clotting properties that could increase your risk of bleeding if you’re taking a blood thinner like warfarin (sold under brand names like Jantoven and Coumadin).
  • Diuretics: Chanca piedra may affect how your body rids itself of fluid. Taking water pills like Microzide (hydrochlorothiazide) can increase this effect.
  • Diabetes medications: Taking medications to help lower your blood sugar, such as Amaryl (glimepiride), with chanca piedra may increase your risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
  • High blood pressure medications: Taking medications to treat high blood pressure with chanca piedra may increase your risk of hypotension (low blood pressure).

This list does not include all medications that may interact with chanca piedra. If you’re not sure about potential interactions with your current medications, call your healthcare provider or pharmacist to discuss.

What To Look For 

Before you purchase chanca piedra, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure it’s the right supplement for you. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA like traditional medications, so here are a few tips to keep in mind when looking for chanca piedra supplements:

  • Supplements vary: Not all chanca piedra products have the same amount of active ingredient. Discuss with your provider which formulation would be best for you. 
  • Make sure your product has a quality seal: Look for a seal of quality from ConsumerLab, NSF International, or US Pharmacopeia. These are independent organizations that conduct quality testing. Quality testing of supplements is not mandatory, so a quality seal from a third party means the manufacturer puts the product through testing to make sure the ingredients on the label are the only ingredients in the product.
  • Read the label: Make sure you are getting the correct product. Check the list of ingredients on the label.

Can You Take Too Much?

There’s not enough information to determine how much chanca piedra is too much to take. Clinical research has only tested the effects of the supplement for three months. More studies are needed to determine a maximum dose. 

It’s important to read the label to determine how much and how often you should take chanca piedra. Follow the directions as noted by the manufacturer, unless your healthcare provider tells you differently.

Chanca piedra seems to be generally well-tolerated. 

In one small study, most people who took chanca piedra reported stomach pain. Other less common side effects that were reported included painful urination, blood in the urine, and nausea.

Another small study showed vomiting, fatigue, and visual impairment as side effects that some people experienced after taking the supplement.

Additional larger studies are needed to further evaluate the possible effects of taking chanca piedra.

Chanca piedra is a plant used to make an herbal supplement that may be effective in treating kidney stones. There have been other purported health benefits of chanca piedra over the years, including an ability to treat hepatitis B and diabetes, but no research has backed these claims. More research on humans is needed to confirm the health benefits of chanca piedra. 

If you are interested in trying chanca piedra, speak with a healthcare provider. The supplement appears relatively safe, but your provider can talk to you about how it might interact with any medications you are taking, whether there are any safety concerns to keep in mind, or what side effects you can expect. 

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