Phyllanthus niruri is a plant with possible health benefits. It may play a role in treating ulcers and urinary tract stones, for example. However, due to a lack of research, there is insufficient evidence of its safety and effectiveness.
The Phyllanthus niruri plant originated in India, and it is native to tropical coastal areas. In herbal medicine, it has long played a role in treating several conditions, including:
- urinary tract stones
- diseases that mainly affect the genitals, particularly the urinary tract
However, little research supports any of these uses.
In this article, we describe potential health benefits of Phyllanthus niruri and the evidence behind them.
Phyllanthus niruri may help treat the following medical problems:
Urinary tract stones
Phyllanthus niruri may help break up or reduce the size of stones that form in the urinary tract.
In a 2018 study with 56 participants, researchers found that Phyllanthus niruri helped reduce the size of these stones. They also found that it improved the removal of magnesium and potassium from the body through the urine.
Another study found that Phyllanthus niruri helped reduce the formation of urinary tract stones.
Confirming these promising results will require more clinical trials of a higher quality.
Issues requiring diuretics
Diuretics remove water and sodium from the body. They can help treat high blood pressure and a range of other conditions.
Some practitioners of herbal medicine use Phyllanthus niruri as a diuretic.
In a 2018 study, researchers found that Phyllanthus niruri has a diuretic effect in rats, boosting the excretion of sodium in the urine. Further research can confirm whether the plant has this effect in humans.
A 2013 study examined the effects of four Phyllanthus species on the herpes simplex virus in cell cultures. While Phyllanthus niruri was the least effective species, it did appear to combat the infection.
Other studies suggest that Phyllanthus niruri could help treat other infections, such as hepatitis B and HIV. However, researchers will need to further explore the effects in live animals and humans before drawing conclusions.
In a 2017 study in rats, researchers found that Phyllanthus niruri appeared to reduce inflammation about as well as ibuprofen.
A 2013 study in rats and mice also found that an extract of the plant could combat inflammation.
A 2017 study in rats showed that Phyllanthus niruri could reduce the size of ulcers.
However, research in humans is crucial in determining whether the plant extract can be an effective component of ulcer treatment.
A 2010 study in rats found that Phyllanthus niruri has the potential to help in the treatment of diabetes. The researchers concluded that extracts of the plant could help lower fasting blood sugar and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Another study, in mice with diabetes, showed that a different Phyllanthus species could reduce blood sugar levels and weight.
Phyllanthus niruri leaves and extracts are available in teas and supplement tablets.
Before using Phyllanthus niruri, discuss it with a doctor or another healthcare provider. Supplements can cause adverse effects and interfere with ongoing treatments.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate Phyllanthus niruri or other supplements. The contents and quality of these products can vary.
Before purchasing supplements, read reviews carefully and check labels for any additional ingredients.
There is limited information about adverse effects of Phyllanthus niruri. This is due to a lack of research in humans — so far, nearly all the relevant studies have been in rodents or cell cultures.
A study from 2011 investigated the toxicity of Phyllanthus niruri in rats. The researchers found no abnormalities in internal organs or other signs of toxicity.
However, humans have larger, more complex bodies than rodents, of course, and it is difficult to anticipate whether the effects in rodents will resemble the effects in humans.
Before using any product that contains Phyllanthus niruri, consult a doctor. The ingredients in any supplement may interact with medications or cause other adverse effects.
Phyllanthus niruri has long played a role in herbal medicine, particularly in treatments for urinary tract stones and ulcers.
However, little scientific evidence currently supports the use of Phyllanthus niruri.
The scant research that exists has largely involved animals or cell cultures. It is not possible to guarantee the effectiveness or safety of Phyllanthus niruri until scientists conduct more research in humans.