What Is Chanca Piedra?

Traditional Remedy for Kidney Stones

Chanca Piedra tea, capsules, tablets, and liquid extract

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Chanca piedra is a tropical herb known as a traditional cure for potential kidney stones. It has also been used for liver issues, ulcers, diabetes control, blood pressure, gallstones, and gout.

Also known as stone breaker, gale-of-the-wind, and seed-under-leaf, chanca piedra is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat any condition. Research is limited. It has few known side effects but may interact with several common medications.

This article looks at the research behind chanca piedra, its benefits, and its side effects. It also details drug interactions, who should not take chanca piedra, and what to look for when buying it.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredients(s): alkaloids, coumarins, flavonoids, lignans, tannins
  • Alternate name(s): Holy Friday, gale of the wind, stone breaker, seed in the leaf, carry me seed, Creole senna, Daun marisan, herb of San Pablo, chickweed
  • Legal status: Herbal supplement
  • Suggested dose: 10-20 mL three times per day, 10 g powder, 45-50 mL juice of the plant, 4.5 g in a sachet for tea
  • Safety considerations: Diabetes, potassium levels/heart conditions, blood clotting disorders

Uses of Chanca Piedra

Chanca piedra is used for kidney stones, gallstones, hepatitis B, peptic ulcers, gout, and digestive problems.

Here's a closer look at the research behind the health benefits and uses of chanca piedra. Keep in mind supplement use should be vetted by your healthcare provider.

Kidney Stones

The most studied use of chanca piedra is for kidney stones. Here is where it gets its name "stone breaker."

A 2018 clinical study of 56 people with kidney stones showed that the use of chanca piedra contributed to the elimination of small (<10mm) kidney stones.

Kidney stones are more prone to form when oxalate or uric acid levels become too high. Chanca piedra lowered urinary oxalate and uric acid (waste products that exit your body via urine). Further research is needed to validate this effect.

In a 2010 study, chanca piedra "interfered with different stages of [kidney] stone formation." The study showed that chanca piedra might work by relaxing the ureters (tubules through which urine and kidney stones pass). This helps to expel the stone and its fragments after lithotripsy, a treatment that breaks up kidney stones using shock waves.

Gallstones

In traditional medicine, chanca piedra is used to treat gallstones. It appears to work on gallstones, much in the same way it helps break up kidney stones. Chanca piedra has alkalizing properties that may prevent and treat gallstones. 

However, no current scientific research supports Chanca piedra’s use for gallstones. 

Gout

Gout occurs when an excess of uric acid in the blood pools in joints, causing painful crystals to form. Chanca piedra may help to lower uric acid levels and prevent gout. 

In animal studies, Chandra piedra supplements can lower uric acid levels. However, human studies are limited, and there is no evidence to support that it actually works in people.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a serious liver disease. Only a licensed healthcare provider should manage it.

Studies have shown the potential for chanca piedra to help treat liver disorders, including hepatitis B, a viral liver infection.

According to a 2016 review, in lab studies, chanca piedra showed reduced hepatitis B antigen, a sign of infection. Study authors said that the chanca piedra might be effective against hepatitis B by slowing the replication (growth) of the hepatitis B virus.

More research in humans is needed to support these claims.

Digestive Health

A 2014 study found that chanca piedra had antimicrobial activity (the ability to kill or prevent microbes) against Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). H. pylori is an organism that plays a significant role in developing digestive disorders, such as ulcers. It's also thought to increase the risk for stomach cancer.

The study also found that chanca piedra didn't inhibit the growth of good bacteria in the gut (such as Lactobacillus acidophilus).

In addition to the uses listed above, other traditional uses for chanca piedra include:

However, studies haven't produced the kind of high-quality evidence needed to validate any digestive health claims at this time.

Diabetes

Chanca piedra contains antioxidants and other beneficial compounds for people with diabetes. Animal studies found the herb can lower fasting blood glucose levels, a common problem in people with diabetes. 

Human studies are needed before it can be recommended to manage blood sugar. However, researchers warn that it may cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It can also interact with diabetes medications. People with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar when taking chanca piedra.

Other Uses

Chanca piedra's additional traditional uses include:

However, studies haven't produced high-quality evidence to validate uses for these health conditions.

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Treating Kidney Stones

What Are the Side Effects of Chanca Piedra?

There are few side effects of chanca piedra. As with all supplements, there is the risk of an allergic reaction.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects of chanca piedra are:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Blood in the urine

A clinical study of people with kidney stones noted these side effects. It was pointed out that these are also symptoms of kidney stones. It remains uncertain if these side effects directly resulted from using chanca piedra.

Severe Side Effects

Chanca piedra may increase the excretion of electrolytes like potassium. Excessive excretion of potassium can decrease potassium to unsafe levels, causing an electrolyte imbalance. This could impact heart rhythm.

Precautions

It's essential to use chanca piedra supplements with caution. Talk to your healthcare provider before using it if you have any health conditions, including:

  • Blood-clotting disorders: Chanca piedra may slow down blood clotting, increasing the risk of bleeding in those with clotting disorders.
  • Diabetes: Chanca piedra may lower blood sugar.
  • Potassium levels: Chanca piedra may decrease potassium levels through excretion.

Little is known about the effects of chanca piedra on pregnancy, children, and people over 65. Speak with a healthcare professional before taking chanca piedra or any supplement or plant medicine, especially if you are taking any prescription medications.

Chanca piedra capsules

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak 

Dosage: How Much Chanca Piedra Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

There isn't enough evidence from clinical research to show a precise, safe, and effective dose of chanca piedra. However, there are recorded doses in traditional use.

In the use of treating specific ailments, the traditional dosage varies. Dosages for chanca piedra plant juice range from 10-20 milliliters three times per day to 45-50 mL every morning. Another suggests 10 grams of powder from the roots to be mixed with fresh milk and drunk every morning. The use of 4.5 g in a sachet steeped in boiling water for tea has also been suggested.

No clinical study validates these doses. The right dose of any supplement depends on many factors, including age, body weight, and overall health. For this reason, it's difficult for researchers to recommend one proper dosage to ensure safety and effectiveness.

What Happens If I Take too Much Chanca Piedra?

Taking too much chanca piedra has unknown effects. Few clinical studies have been completed on chanca piedra. As a result, there is little known about any upper dosage limit. There may be a disruption in electrolyte balance if too much chanca piedra is taken.

A clinical study about chanca piedra and its effects on kidney stones showed an increase in potassium excretion when taking it. The risk of decreased potassium levels in the body exists if too much chanca piedra is taken.

Speak with a healthcare professional about taking chanca piedra if you are using diuretics or have any concerns about your potassium levels.

Interactions

Chanca piedra can interact with some prescription medications. Specific drug indications include medications that treat heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and other conditions.

Note: This is not a complete list of interactions. If you take any medications, talk to your pharmacist before using chanca piedra.

Anticoagulants

Chanca piedra may slow blood clotting. When taken with anticoagulants, which prevent blood clots, there may be an increased risk of bleeding.

Anticoagulants include:

  • Aspirin
  • Warfarin
  • Ticlopidine
  • Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate)

Antidiabetic Medications

Chanca piedra is thought to lower blood sugar levels. When taking antidiabetic medications, blood sugar levels may be too low.

Some diabetes medications that may interact with chanca piedra include:

  • Insulin
  • DiaBeta (glyburide)
  • Diabinese (chlorpropamide)
  • Other blood-sugar-lowering medication

Antihypertensives

Chanca piedra may lower blood pressure. Taking medications that lower blood pressure and chanca piedra may cause your blood pressure to be too low.

Examples of blood pressure medications that may interact with chanca piedra include:

  • Vasotec (enalapril)
  • Norvasc (amlodipine)
  • HydroDIURIL (hydrochlorothiazide)

Diuretics

Chanca piedra causes the body to lose water and excrete potassium. When taken with water pills, chanca piedra could cause your blood pressure to be too low.

Diuretics include:

  • Lasix (furosemide)
  • Diuril (chlorothiazide)
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Stimulant laxatives such as sennosides and bisacodyl

Lithium

Chanca piedra may act as a diuretic (water pill), impacting how efficiently the body gets rid of lithium. This could adversely affect the therapeutic levels of lithium. Ask your healthcare provider if your lithium dosage should be adjusted.

Supplements

Chanca piedra may have interactions with herbal supplements for the same reasons as the above medication. Herbal interactions with chanca piedra include:

  • Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and Hawthorn (Crataegus species) decrease blood pressure.
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) and ginger interfere with blood clotting.
  • Aloe can lower potassium levels.

It is essential to read the labels of supplements. Carefully read the ingredient list and the nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients are present and how much of each is included in the supplement. Please review the supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Chanca Piedra

When storing herbal supplements, it is best to refer to package instructions. Follow the package instructions for when to discard the supplement as well.

One clinical study did note that chanca piedra had been stored in a dry space at 59-95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Similar Supplements

  • Potassium citrate
  • Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus species)
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
  • Ginger
  • Aloe
  • Nettle (Urtica dioica)

A traditional use of chanca piedra is to lower blood pressure. Supplements with similar effects are black cohosh and hawthorn. Both of these supplements have been shown to lower blood pressure. It is not recommended to take these supplements together as the combination may decrease your blood pressure to unsafe levels.

Chanca piedra is also believed to impact the coagulation of platelets in the blood. That is to say, it decreases the body's ability to clot. Feverfew and ginger also affect the body's ability to clot blood. Using chanca piedra with other herbs that may cause anticoagulation, such as feverfew and ginger, should be avoided. Speak with your healthcare provider about taking these supplements if you have a clotting issue or are already taking any of these supplements.

Aloe, when taken orally, can decrease potassium levels in the body. In a clinical trial involving kidney stones, chanca piedra demonstrated the same effect. Using aloe with chana piedra is not recommended.

This same study showed that chanca piedra may decrease the size and formation of kidney stones. The herbal supplement nettle is believed to fight kidney stones as well.

Sources of Chanca Piedra and What to Look For

There are several ways to take chanca piedra. It can be taken by drinking the juice of the plant, powdered root, or by taking it as tea. Chanca piedra is readily available in many forms. These include:

  • Herbal tea
  • Extracts (in liquid)
  • Capsules
  • Tablets

The FDA regulates supplements as food, not as drugs. While the FDA doesn't have the authority to approve dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness or to approve their labels before they're sold to the public, the FDA does evaluate supplement labels for any health claims after they're on the market. It also inspects supplement manufacturers.

Because of this lack of regulation, you must use caution when looking for a safe and effective product.

Look for products certified by third-party agencies such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia, NSF, or ConsumerLab.com. These agencies evaluate products and report on herbal and natural products' safety, purity, and potency.

Supplements

Chanca piedra supplements are available in powder, juice, or tea form. Other formats also include tablets and capsules.

Dietary supplements are not regulated in the United States, meaning the FDA does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLab.com, or NSF International. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn't mean they are safe for all or effective in general. You must talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about any potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Summary

Chanca piedra is a supplement that's thought to be a natural remedy for kidney stones, digestive problems, and other health conditions.

Some research has found it can reduce kidney stones, reduce bacteria that cause ulcers, and slow hepatitis B infections. However, research is still limited, and more data is needed to support health claims.

As with all supplements and plant medicines, it's essential to discuss the use of chanca piedra with your healthcare provider before taking it. This conversation is especially important if you have a health condition or are taking any medications, other plant medicines, or dietary supplements.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it possible to reduce the risk of getting calcium oxalate stones?

    There are various diets for the prevention of different types of kidney stones. The National Institutes of Health notes that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can reduce the risk of kidney stones. Here are some basic guidelines:

    • Drink plenty of water (and other fluids).
    • Limit caffeinated beverages.
    • Lower the level of salt intake in the diet.
    • Limit animal protein intake.
    • Eliminate refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

    To prevent oxalate stones, restrict concentrated fruit juices, beets, spinach, rhubarb, tea, dark green vegetables, beer, and chocolate (foods high in oxalates).

    When eating oxalate-rich foods, eat or drink those rich in calcium. When oxalate and calcium combine in the stomach, there is a lower incidence of forming oxalate stones.

  • What should I eat to lower the 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 vegetable sources. Consider working with a team that includes a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN) to help with exploring and changing your diet.

  • Why do animal sources of protein increase the risk of kidney stones?

    Eating too much animal protein increases levels of uric acid and lowers citrate in the urine. Citrate is a chemical that helps prevent kidney stones from developing.

  • Does chanca piedra cause weight loss?

    There is no evidence to support the use of chanca piedra for weight loss. However, the herb has diuretic and laxative properties, which can cause the number on the scale to drop. However, it does not appear to boost metabolism or promote fat loss.

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Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Dawn Sheldon, RN
Dawn Sheldon, RN, is a registered nurse and health writer. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and empowering others.