The Health Benefits of Khella

Khella plant

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Khella is a flowering plant (Ammi visnaga) that produces fruit used to make medicine. When taken in dietary supplement form, khella is said to help treat a number of health problems, including kidney stones and diabetes.

Medicinal use of khella dates back to ancient Egypt, when it was used to treat urinary tract disorders and other health problems. In addition, khella was used as a diuretic in the Middle Ages.

Also Known As

Khella may go by other names, including:

  • Khellin
  • Toothpick plant
  • Ammi visnaga

Health Benefits

Despite its long history of medicinal use, the health benefits of khella haven't been explored in many scientific studies. Most research so far has been performed in vitro (in a test tube) or on rodents.

Kidney Stones

Khella shows promise in the prevention of kidney stones, suggests an animal-based study published in the journal Urological Research in 2011. In tests on rats with hyperoxaluria (a condition known to promote kidney-stone formation), the study's authors observed that treatment with khella helped reduce the incidence of kidney stones.

In an earlier study published in Phytomedicine in 2010, laboratory tests on kidney cells demonstrated that khella could help prevent the cell damage known to contribute to kidney-stone formation.


Khella may aid in the treatment of diabetes, according to a preliminary study published in the Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy in 2002. Analyzing findings from an experiment involving diabetic rats, researchers found that khella extract may help manage diabetes by regulating blood sugar levels.

It's important to note that, due to lack of research testing khella's effects on human health, it's too soon to recommend this remedy in the treatment of either diabetes or kidney stones.

Khella is also used as a natural remedy for the following health conditions:

  • Angina
  • Asthma 
  • Atherosclerosis 
  • Bronchitis 
  • Cough
  • Cramps
  • Diabetes 
  • Heart disease 
  • High blood pressure 
  • High cholesterol 
  • Kidney stones
  • Menstrual pain 
  • Premenstrual syndrome 

When applied directly to the skin, khella is said to aid in the treatment of a number of skin disorders (including alopecia areatapsoriasis, and vitiligo). Topical use of khella is also thought to promote healing from wounds and poisonous bites.

There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of khella for the treatment of any of these conditions.

Possible Side Effects

Prolonged or high doses of khella may cause side effects, including lack of appetite, constipation, headache, insomnia, itching, or nausea. While it may elevate liver enzymes in some people, khella is not known to cause liver damage.

When applied topically, khella may increase your skin's sensitivity to sunlight and raise your risk of skin cancer.

Khella may have effects on uterine muscle contraction and should be avoided during pregnancy. Not enough is known about khella to determine if it is safe during breastfeeding.

Selection, Preparation, and Storage

Many natural-foods stores and other stores specializing in natural products sell khella in dietary supplement form. You can also purchase khella online. There is not enough evidence to establish a standard dose of the supplement.

Many consumers look for organic products to help ensure purity. Keep in mind, however, that supplements are largely unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the amount specified on the label. There have also been published reports of supplements containing ingredients not disclosed on the label. In addition, it is it illegal to market a dietary supplement product as a treatment or cure for a disease or to reduce symptoms of a disease.

When choosing a supplement, try to buy from a familiar seller, such as your local pharmacy. Ask questions if you are not sure which product to choose. Look for products that have been certified by ConsumerLabs, The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention, or NSF International. These organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but do provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

Common Questions

Are there other natural remedies for the prevention of kidney stones?

Although research on the use of natural treatments for prevention of kidney stones is very limited, there's some evidence that certain remedies (including potassium citrate and Phyllanthus niruri) may help fight kidney-stone formation.

Are there any other natural substances that may help in the management of diabetes?

For help in controlling diabetes, there's some evidence that natural substances, such as alpha-lipoic acid and some herbal and other supplements, may be of some benefit to diabetes patients. However, it's important to note that self-treating diabetes with these remedies and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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  1. Vanachayangkul P, Chow N, Khan SR, et al. Prevention of renal crystal deposition by an extract of Ammi visnaga L. and its constituents khellin and visnagin in hyperoxaluric rats. Urol Res. 2011;39:189–195. doi:10.1007/s00240-010-0333-y

  2. Vanachayangkul P, Byer K, Khan S, et al. An aqueous extract of Ammi visnaga fruits and its constituents khellin and visnagin prevent cell damage caused by oxalate in renal epithelial cells. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(0): 653–658. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2009.10.011

  3. Jouad H, Maghrani M, Eddouks M. Hypoglycemic effect of aqueous extract of Ammi visnaga in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Herb Pharmacother. 2002;2(4):19-29.

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