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Khella

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Created June 02, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Khella is a plant long used for medicinal purposes. Sourced from a flowering plant in the carrot family, it's also known as Ammi visnaga. 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.

Uses for Khella

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

When applied topically (i.e., 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.

Benefits of Khella

Despite its long history of medicinal use, khella and its health effects haven't been explored in many scientific studies. Here's a look at the available research on the potential health benefits of khella:

1)  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.

2)  Diabetes

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 treatment of either diabetes or kidney stones.

Is Khella Safe? 

Khella is known to trigger a range of side effects, including constipationheadacheinsomnia, and nausea.

There's also some concern that long-term use of khella may lead to certain health issues, including liver damage. For this reason, anyone with a history of liver problems should avoid use of khella.

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

Alternatives to Khella

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.

For help in controlling diabetes, there's some evidence that natural substances like alpha-lipoic acid and omega-3 fatty acids 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.

Where to Find Khella 

Many natural-foods stores and other stores specializing in natural products sell khella in dietary supplement form. You can also purchase khella online.

 

Sources

Freitas AM, Schor N, Boim MA. "The effect of Phyllanthus niruri on urinary inhibitors of calcium oxalate crystallization and other factors associated with renal stone formation." BJU Int. 2002 Jun;89(9):829-34.

Jouad H1, 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.

McNally MA1, Pyzik PL, Rubenstein JE, Hamdy RF, Kossoff EH. "Empiric use of potassium citrate reduces kidney-stone incidence with the ketogenic diet." Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e300-4.

Singh U1, Jialal I. "Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation and diabetes." Nutr Rev. 2008 Nov;66(11):646-57.

Vanachayangkul P1, Byer K, Khan S, Butterweck V. "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 Jul;17(8-9):653-8. 

Vanachayangkul P1, Chow N, Khan SR, Butterweck V. "Prevention of renal crystal deposition by an extract of Ammi visnaga L. and its constituents khellin and visnagin in hyperoxaluric rats." Urol Res. 2011 Jun;39(3):189-95.

Wu JH1, Micha R, Imamura F, Pan A, Biggs ML, Ajaz O, Djousse L, Hu FB, Mozaffarian D. "Omega-3 fatty acids and incident type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Br J Nutr. 2012 Jun;107 Suppl 2:S214-27.

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