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Phyllanthus niruri as a Promising Alternative Treatment for Nephrolithiasis

In spite of considerable efforts to identify effective treatments for urolithiasis, this is a goal yet to be achieved. This review summarizes experimental and clinical data evaluating the effect of the plant Phyllanthus niruri, a plant with worldwide distribution, as a potential agent to prevent and/or to treat urolithiasis. The review is based on data from the literature and on the results obtained by our group from either in vivo/in vitro experiments or clinical studies. Phyllanthus niruri has been shown to interfere with many stages of stone formation, reducing crystals aggregation, modifying their structure and composition as well as altering the interaction of the crystals with tubular cells leading to reduced subsequent endocytosis. The clinical beneficial effects of Phyllanthus niruri may be related to ureteral relaxation, helping to eliminate calculi or to clear fragments following lithotripsy, or also to a putative reduction of the excretion of urinary crystallization promoters such as calcium. No adverse renal, cardiovascular, neurological or toxic effects have been detected in either of these studies. Altogether, these studies suggest a preventive effect of Phyllanthus niruri in stone formation or elimination, but still longer-term randomized clinical trials are necessary to confirm its therapeutic properties.

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