What Is Phyllanthus Niruri and How Is It Used?

Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on October 5, 2017Written by Annette McDermott on October 5, 2017

What is it?

Phyllanthus niruri is a weed found in coastal areas. It’s also known as gale of the wind or stonebreaker. Its leaves and fruit are used as herbal medicine.

Phyllanthus niruri is known for protecting the liver. It may also combat kidney stones, hence the “stonebreaker” moniker. Keep reading to learn more about how this plant may improve your health.

1. It has antioxidant properties

According to a 2014 in vitro study, an extract made from phyllanthus niruri leaves showed strong antioxidant activity. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body that may cause cell damage and disease.

2. It has antimicrobial properties

According to a 2012 study, phyllanthus niruri extract has antimicrobial abilities against H. pylori bacteria. H. pylori bacteria are common in the digestive tract and are usually harmless. But in some cases, they can lead to peptic ulcers, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Researchers also found that the extract didn’t harm any beneficial strains of lactic acid bacteria.

3. It has anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation can cause many problems throughout the body, including skin conditions like psoriasis and chronic pain. According to a 2017 animal study, phyllanthus niruri may help reduce inflammation.

For the study, researchers injected carrageenan into the left hind paws of rats to cause inflammation. The rats were then treated with phyllanthus niruri extract, which was found to significantly reduce the inflammation.

4. It may help protect against ulcers

Findings from the same 2017 animal study also suggest that phyllanthus niruri extract can help prevent ulcers. It’s thought to reduce gastric acid secretion and protect the stomach. It also showed potent anti-inflammatory effects against gastric ulcers.

5. It may help lower blood sugar

Phyllanthus niruri may also have antidiabetic properties. According to a 2011 study, the plant’s aerial parts may help prevent glucose absorption and improve glucose storage. This may help maintain blood sugar levels.

6. It may help prevent kidney stones

Phyllanthus niruri may be best known as a kidney stone remedy. According to 2010 research, many studies have shown that it’s a powerful kidney stone deterrent.

Phyllanthus niruri can help relax the ureter after lithotripsy to help stones pass. Lithotripsy is a procedure used to break up stones in the urinary tract. It may also prevent stones from forming in the first place by stopping the crystals that form them from clumping together.

7. It may improve liver health

According to a 2017 study on rats, phyllanthus niruri may help treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis. Both conditions may cause insulin resistance. The study found phyllanthus niruri decreased insulin resistance and reduced the amount of fatty acids in the liver.

A 2006 study on mice also found that the antioxidants in phyllanthus niruri may help protect the liver from acetaminophen toxicity.

8. It may help treat acute hepatitis B

Phyllanthus niruri may help treat acute hepatitis B infections due to its anti-viral and liver-protecting abilities.

In a 2010 study, 60 people with the condition received either a placebo or a product made of seven herbal medicines including 100 milligrams of phyllanthus niruri. The herbal medicine group experienced faster recovery than the placebo group. However, they reported side effects like upper abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Phyllanthus niruri may not help chronic hepatitis B, though. A 2011 review of 16 randomized trials on people with chronic hepatitis B didn’t find any significant evidence in support of the treatment.

9. It may be anti-cancerous

Phyllanthus niruri and other phyllanthus species may help prevent the metastasis of some lung and breast cancers. A 2011 study showed the polyphenols in the herb help prevent the invasion, migration, and adhesion of cancer cells.

A 2012 study on human colorectal and liver cancer cell lines also found that phyllanthus niruri helped slow cancer cell growth and encouraged cancer cell death.

How to use

Herbal remedies aren’t regulated by the federal government. It’s hard to know if you’re getting what’s advertised on the label. You should only buy from brands you’ve researched and know to be trustworthy.

Before you buy, read customer reviews and do research on the manufacturer. Make sure they use high-quality ingredients and follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

Phyllanthus niruri is commonly used in capsule, tea, or extract forms, and there’s no standardized dosing recommendation.

An average dose is one 500-milligram capsule per day or 1 milliliter extract up to four times daily. For specific dosing guidelines, see your doctor or natural health professional.

Potential side effects and risks

Phyllanthus niruri showed few negative side effects in human and animal studies, but you should still use caution. It may cause stomach upset or diarrhea. Because it hasn’t been studied, there’s no proven safe dose for children. This herb is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Talk to your doctor before use if you:

  • have diabetes
  • have a blood clotting disorder
  • take blood-thinning medications
  • have a scheduled surgery within two weeks
  • take several different medications

The bottom line

Phyllanthus niruri is a popular folk remedy with powerful medicinal properties. Some research supports its use for kidney stones, gallstones, liver health, and diabetes. Still, much of the research is inconclusive. There’s not enough evidence to recommend the herb for most conditions.

You shouldn’t use phyllanthus niruri without first consulting with your doctor. They can provide you with more information about your individual risks and the potential benefits it may offer.

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