Phyllanthus niruri, a plant commonly known as stonebreaker or seed-under-leaf, has been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years. In areas where it is endemic, this plant has been used to treat a variety of different ailments, including venereal disease, gastrointestinal disorders, infections and conditions that affect the internal organs. Though many of the potential medicinal effects of this plant haven't been studied, scientists have examined Phyllanthus niruri for its potential ability to prevent calcium stones from forming in the kidneys and the gallbladder.
The common name of the Phyllanthus niruri, stonebreaker, was given to this plant because of its use in the treatment of kidney and gallbladder stones. Historically, healers in areas where this plant grows naturally have prescribed it to help patients break down and eliminate these stones. Medical studies conducted on animals suggest that Phyllanthus niruri may be useful in preventing more calcium stones from forming when patients are already suffering from one of these disorders. It does not, however, seem to help disintegrate stones that are already present, nor does it seem to shorten the length of time it take for the stones to be eliminated.
Aside from this primary use, Phyllanthus niruri has also been given to patients for the treatment of liver diseases. It is often given to patients who have jaundice, hepatitis, anemia, and cancer of the liver. Though it does seem to have properties that promote the health of the liver, its effectiveness in the treatment of these disorders has not been thoroughly examined. Early research has shown it may be useful in the treatment of hepatitis, though it may not be effective against this disease in human patients.
Traditional healers also prescribe Phyllanthus niruri for gastrointestinal problems. It is commonly used as a digestive aid and as an anti-flatulent medication. Patients with inflammation or pain in the stomach may be treated with this plant as well. It also has laxative properties which has led to its use in the treatment of intestinal parasites, though with many parasites, simply expelling the contents of the digestive system may not be enough to stop the infection.
Stonebreaker has also been used to treat a variety of other disorders. It may be given to patients with fevers, colds, flu, malaria, venereal disease, diabetes, cancer, or tuberculosis. Though Phyllanthus niruri may have some properties that allow it to boost the immune system, it is unlikely that this plant is an effective cure against such a wide variety of conditions.