Ivy gourd is a tropical plant used in herbal medicine. Available in supplement form, extracts of the ivy gourd's roots, fruit, and leaves are said to offer a range of health benefits. Many proponents claim that ivy ground can help regulate blood sugar levels and, in turn, prevent or treat diabetes.
Ivy gourd is sometimes referred to as Coccinia indica, Coccinia cordifolia, or Coccinia grandis.
Uses for Ivy Gourd
Although ivy gourd is most commonly used as a natural remedy for diabetes, some people use ivy gourd for the following conditions:
Ivy gourd is also purported to reduce inflammation.
In addition, ivy gourd leaves are sometimes applied to skin to help promote wound healing.
Benefits of Ivy Gourd
To date, research on the potential health benefits of ivy gourd is very limited and dated. However, some studies suggest that ivy gourd may help fight diabetes.
For instance, a 2003 research review from Diabetes Care indicates that ivy gourd may be effective in the treatment of diabetes. For the review, investigators looked at 108 trials examining a total of 36 herbs and 9 vitamin/mineral supplements for their effectiveness in the treatment of diabetes. Although the review's authors concluded that American ginseng and ivy gourd had the strongest scientific support for their efficacy, it's important to note that very few clinical trials on the use of ivy gourd for diabetes control have been published in recent years.
One of the few recently published trials is a 2008 study from Diabetes Care. The study involved 60 patients with mild diabetes, each of whom took either a placebo or ivy gourd extract every day for 90 days. Study results showed that members of the ivy gourd group experienced a significantly greater improvement in blood sugar levels (compared to members of the placebo group).
What's more, a small study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences in 2008 found that six weeks of treatment with ivy gourd supplements helped regulate blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. The authors of the study (which involved 30 people with diabetes) suggest that ivy gourd may aid in blood sugar control by having an insulin-like effect on patients.
Additionally, a number of animal-based studies have found that ivy gourd shows promise in the treatment of diabetes. For example, a 2003 study published in Phytotherapy Research demonstrated that treating diabetic rats with ivy gourd helped alter their levels of an antioxidant called glutathione. (Studies show that abnormal glutathione status may contribute to the development of diabetes-related complications.)
Is Ivy Gourd Safe?
Little is known about the safety of taking ivy gourd supplements in the long term. However, since ivy gourd may lower blood sugar levels, there's some concern that using ivy gourd in combination with anti-diabetes drugs may have harmful effects. In addition, many medical experts recommend discontinuing use of ivy gourd supplements at least two weeks before undergoing surgery.
Where to Find Ivy Gourd
Available for purchase online, ivy gourd supplements are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.
Should You Use Ivy Gourd for Health Purposes?
Due to a lack of scientific support, it's too soon to recommend ivy gourd for treatment of any health condition. If you're considering the use of ivy gourd in the treatment of diabetes (or any other health condition), make sure to consult your physician. It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with ivy gourd and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.
Kamble SM, Kamlakar PL, Vaidya S, Bambole VD. "Influence of Coccinia indica on certain enzymes in glycolytic and lipolytic pathway in human diabetes." Indian J Med Sci. 1998 Apr;52(4):143-6.
Kuriyan R, Rajendran R, Bantwal G, Kurpad AV. "Effect of supplementation of Coccinia cordifolia extract on newly detected diabetic patients." Diabetes Care. 2008 Feb;31(2):216-20.
Niazi J, Singh P, Bansal Y, Goel RK. "Anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activity of aqueous extract of fresh leaves of Coccinia indica." Inflammopharmacology. 2009 Aug;17(4):239-44.
Venkateswaran S, Pari L. "Effect of Coccinia indica leaf extract on plasma antioxidants in streptozotocin- induced experimental diabetes in rats." Phytother Res. 2003 Jun;17(6):605-8.
Venkateswaran S, Pari L. "Effect of Coccinia indica leaves on antioxidant status in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats." J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 Feb;84(2-3):163-8.
Venkateswaran S, Pari L, Suguna L, Chandrakasan G. "Modulatory effect of Coccinia indica on aortic collagen in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats." Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2003 Mar;30(3):157-63.
Yeh GY, Eisenberg DM, Kaptchuk TJ, Phillips RS. "Systematic review of herbs and dietary supplements for glycemic control in diabetes." Diabetes Care. 2003 Apr;26(4):1277-94.