The potential of water extracts of the Amazon medicinal plant Chancapiedra (Phyllanthus niruri L.) from Ecuador and Peru for antimicrobial activity against Helicobacter pylori and different strains of lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum was investigated. H. pylori was inhibited by both water extracts in a dose dependent manner, whereas lactic acid bacterial growth was not affected. Both extracts contained ellagic acid and hydroxycinnamic acid derivatives and exhibited high free radical scavenging linked-antioxidant activities (89%). However, gallic acid was detected only in the Ecuadorian extract. Preliminary studies on the mode of action of Chancapiedra against H. pylori revealed that inhibition may not involve proline dehydrogenase-based oxidative phosphorylation inhibition associated with simple mono-phenolics and could involve ellagitannins or other non-phenolic compounds through a yet unknown mechanism. This study provides evidence about the potential of Chancapiedra for H. pylori inhibition without affecting beneficial lactic acid bacteria. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.