Chankapiedra (pearl grass.) is an herbal supplement derived from the tropical plant of the yelan family. The plant grows in the Amazon rainforest and other tropical regions of the world. It is often called a “lithotripter” because it is said to be a natural remedy for kidney stones.
There are many other touted benefits of chanca piedra. This includes treating hepatitis B, diabetes, malaria, pain relief and digestive problems. However, it has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of any disease.
This article discusses the uses and possible side effects of chanca piedra. It also covers who shouldn’t take it and what to look for when buying it.
also known as
Other names for chanca piedra include:
- gale of wind
- stone breaker
- seed under leaf
- Bouma Malaki
- carry seeds with you
- chancapie de la blanca
- Chance Pierre
- Creole Senna
- Dawn Marysan
In traditional medicine, some believe that chanca piedra is beneficial for various ailments, such as:
- Sore throat/swollen tonsils
- upset stomach
- kidney stones
- Infections (including sexually transmitted infections)
- fluid retention
Several studies have looked at the effects of chanca piedra on different health conditions. However, these studies have not yet produced the evidence needed to validate any health claims.
Chanca piedra is sold as a herbal supplement. The FDA does not allow manufacturers to make claims for the treatment of any health condition.
Several studies have looked at the effects of chanca piedra on kidney stones.
A 2018 study involved 56 patients with kidney stones who received chanca piedra. After 12 weeks, an ultrasound assessment was performed to assess the effect of chanca piedra in reducing stones.
Chanca piedra has been found to reduce urinary oxalic acid and uric acid (wastes excreted from the body through urine). When oxalate or uric acid levels are too high, these high levels can lead to the development of kidney stones.
In a 2010 study, it was found that chanca piedra “interfered with [kidney] Stonehenge. “
Research shows that chanca piedra works by relaxing the ureter (the small tube through which urine and kidney stones pass).This helps to expel the stone and its fragments later lithotripsyusing shock waves to break down kidney stones.
A 2014 study found that chanca piedra has antimicrobial activity (the ability to kill or prevent microbes) Helicobacter pylori (Helicobacter pylori). Helicobacter pylori is an organism thought to play a major role in the development of digestive diseases such as ulcers. It is also thought to increase the risk of stomach cancer.
The study also found that chanca piedra did not inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut (such as Lactobacillus acidophilus).
Helicobacter pylori infection
Research suggests that chanca piedra has the potential to help treat liver diseases, including hepatitis B, a viral liver infection.
In a 2016 review, 50 to 60 percent of hepatitis B patients taking chanca piedra showed a reduction in hepatitis B antigen, a sign of infection. According to the study authors, chanca piedra may be effective against hepatitis B by slowing the replication (growth) of the hepatitis B virus.
More clinical research data are needed to definitively support these claims.
The study looked at the effects of chanca piedra on different health conditions. There is some evidence that it may help reduce kidney stones, fight ulcer-causing bacteria and slow the growth of the hepatitis B virus. However, more research is needed to support these medical claims.
possible side effects
No known serious side effects have been found with chanca piedra. There may be some minor side effects such as diarrhea or upset stomach.
However, chanca piedra has not been shown to be safe for children or breastfeeding or pregnant women.
Contraindications are specific situations in which a supplement should not be used because it may be harmful to humans. It may also mean that caution should be used when two specific drugs or supplements are used together.
It is important to use chanca piedra supplements with caution. Consult your healthcare provider before using herbal supplements if you have any medical conditions, including:
- Diabetes: Chanca piedra is thought to lower blood sugar.
- Clotting disorders: Chanca piedra might slow blood clotting, increasing the risk of bleeding in people with clotting disorders.
- Upcoming scheduled surgery: Chanca piedra may increase the risk of bleeding after surgery. Stop using chanca piedra at least two weeks before a planned surgical procedure.
If you are taking prescription medication, be sure to consult your healthcare provider before taking chanca piedra. Specific contraindications involving prescription drugs and chanca piedra include:
- Lithium: Chanca piedra may act as a diuretic (water pill), which may affect how efficiently the body gets rid of lithium. This may adversely affect therapeutic levels of lithium. Ask your healthcare provider if your lithium dose should be adjusted.
- Antidiabetic medications (including insulin and oral medications such as DiaBeta and Diabinese Orinase): Chanca piedra is thought to lower blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels may be too low when taking antidiabetic medicines.
- Antihypertensive drugs (such as Vasotec, Norvasc, or HydroDIURIL): Chanca piedra may also lower blood pressure. Taking blood pressure medicines and chanca piedra may cause your blood pressure to go too low.
- Anticoagulant drugs (such as aspirin, coumarin, Ticlid, or Plavix): Chanca piedra might slow blood clotting. There may be an increased risk of bleeding when taken with anticoagulants that prevent blood clots.
- Diuretics (water pills, such as Lasix or Diuril): Chanca piedra causes the body to lose water. When taken with a water pill, chanca piedra may cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Consult your doctor before using chanca piedra if you have a medical condition or are taking any medications. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid chanca piedra if you have diabetes, a blood clotting disorder, or any upcoming scheduled surgery.
Dosage and Preparation
There is not enough definitive research evidence to show a precise, safe and effective dose of chanca piedra. However, the doses used in the study ranged from 900 to 2,700 mg per day.
The correct dose of any supplement depends on many factors, including age, weight, and overall health. Therefore, it is difficult for researchers to recommend an appropriate dose to ensure safety and efficacy.
Chanca piedra comes in many forms. These include:
- herbal tea
- extract (liquid)
What to look for when buying
Herbal supplements are not regulated by government agencies such as the FDA. The FDA oversees the safety and effectiveness of prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
Due to the lack of regulation, consumers must be cautious when looking for safe and effective products. When possible, choose wild-harvested, natural, and certified organic herbal supplements.
Look for products certified by third-party agencies, such as USP, NSF International, or ConsumerLab.com. These agencies are responsible for evaluating products and reporting on the safety, purity and potency of herbal and natural products.
Preventing kidney stones through diet and nutrition
Chanca piedra is a supplement that is considered a natural remedy for kidney stones, digestive problems and other health conditions.
Some research suggests that it may help reduce kidney stones, fight ulcer-causing bacteria, and slow hepatitis B infection. However, research is still limited and more data are needed to support health claims.
As with all herbal supplements, it is important to discuss the use of chanca piedra with your healthcare provider before taking it. This is especially true if you have a medical condition or are taking any medications or other natural herbs or supplements.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible to reduce the risk of calcium oxalate stones?
There are a variety of diets that can prevent different types of kidney stones. The National Institutes of Health states that the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet may reduce the risk of kidney stones. Here are some basic guidelines:
- Drink plenty of water (and other fluids).
- Limit caffeinated beverages.
- Reduce salt intake in your diet.
- Limit animal protein intake.
- Eliminate refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup.
- Men should avoid vitamin C supplements.
To prevent oxalate stones, limit fruit juice concentrates, beets, spinach, rhubarb, tea, dark green vegetables, beer, and chocolate (these are all foods high in oxalate).
When eating oxalate-rich foods, eat or drink calcium-rich foods. When oxalate and calcium combine in the stomach, oxalate stones are less likely to form.
What should I eat to reduce my risk of uric acid stones?
To prevent uric acid kidney stones, reduce the amount of meat, eggs, fish and poultry you eat. Try to get more of your daily protein from plant sources.
Why does animal-derived protein increase the risk of kidney stones?
Eating too much animal protein can increase uric acid levels and lower citrate in the urine. Citrate is a chemical that helps prevent kidney stones from developing.