Ivy gourd (Coccinia indica)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Chitooligosaccharide-specific lectin, Coccinia cordifolia, Coccinia grandis Voigt, Coccinia indica, Coccinia indica agglutinin (CIA), Coccinia indica Wight & Arn., Cucurbitaceae (family), ivy gourd, lectin, pectins, telakucha.

  • Select combination products: MTEC consists of an aqueous-methanol extract of Coccinia indica, Eugenia jambolana, Musa paradisiaca, and Tamarindus indica.

Background

  • Coccinia indica, also known as ivy gourd, is a tropical plant in the Cucurbitaceae family. It is an aggressive climbing vine that can spread quickly over trees, shrubs, and fences. The flower is large and white and contains five long, tubular petals. Ivy gourd grows well in India and Thailand, as well as in tropical areas such as Hawaii.

  • The roots, fruit, and leaves of Coccinia indica have been used for many medical conditions, including inflammation, asthma, cardiovascular disease (heart disease), and high cholesterol. Coccinia indica has mainly been studied as an antidiabetic agent. It has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels in humans and in animals.

  • There is a lack of high-quality studies of Coccinia indica for any other purpose besides managing diabetes.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Diabetes

Coccinia indica has been shown to improve blood sugar levels in diabetics. However, more studies are needed before conclusions can be made.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Appetite stimulant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, asthma, cardiovascular disease (heart disease), cold, cough, expectorant (thins mucus), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), insecticide (pesticide), laxative, wound healing.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • To manage diabetes, one gram of Coccinia indica has been taken daily for 90 days, three tablets made from freeze-dried leaves has been taken twice daily for six weeks, and a dried extract of 500 micrograms per kilogram of body weight has been taken daily for six weeks.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for Coccinia indica in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in people with allergy or sensitivity to Coccinia indica, any of its parts, or members of the Cucurbitaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Coccinia indica is considered safe when used in people with diabetes for up to six weeks.

  • Coccinia indica may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Coccinia indica may cause constipation, flatulence (gas), abdominal distention (increased pressure in the stomach), gastritis (inflammation in the stomach lining), and lower blood levels of vitamin E.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is currently a lack of scientific evidence on the use of Coccinia indica during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Coccinia indica may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Coccinia indica may also interact with drugs that lower cholesterol.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Coccinia indica may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Coccinia indica may also interact with antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Azad Khan, A. K., AKhtar, S., and Mahtab, H. Coccinia indica in the treatment of patients with diabetes mellitus. Bangladesh Med Res Counc Bull 1979;5(2):60-66. View Abstract
  2. Chandrasekar, B., Mukherjee, B., and Mukherjee, S. K. Blood sugar lowering potentiality of selected Cucurbitaceae plants of Indian origin. Indian J Med Res 1989;90:300-305. View Abstract
  3. GUPTA, S. S. and VARIYAR, M. C. Experimental studies on pituitary diabetes. IV. Effect of Gymnema sylvestre and Coccinia indica against the hyperglycaemic response of somatotropin and corticotropin hormones. Indian J Med Res 1964;52:200-207. View Abstract
  4. Hossain, M. Z., Shibib, B. A., and Rahman, R. Hypoglycemic effects of Coccinia indica: inhibition of key gluconeogenic enzyme, glucose-6-phosphatase. Indian J Exp Biol 1992;30(5):418-420. View Abstract
  5. Kamble, S. M., Kamlakar, P. L., Vaidya, S., and Bambole, V. D. Influence of Coccinia indica on certain enzymes in glycolytic and lipolytic pathway in human diabetes. Indian J Med Sci 1998;52(4):143-146. View Abstract
  6. Khan, A. K., AKhtar, S., and Mahtab, H. Treatment of diabetes mellitus with Coccinia indica. Br Med J 4-12-1980;280(6220):1044. View Abstract
  7. Kumar, G. P., Sudheesh, S., and Vijayalakshmi, N. R. Hypoglycaemic effect of Coccinia indica: mechanism of action. Planta Med 1993;59(4):330-332. View Abstract
  8. Kuriyan, R., Rajendran, R., Bantwal, G., and Kurpad, A. V. Effect of supplementation of Coccinia cordifolia extract on newly detected diabetic patients. Diabetes Care 2008;31(2):216-220. View Abstract
  9. Mallick C, Chatterjee K, Mandal U, and Ghosh D. Protective effects of MTEC, a formulated herbal drug on glycemic indices and testicular dysfunctions in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat. J Herbs Spices Med Plant 2007;13(4):69-91.
  10. Mallick, C., Mandal, S., Barik, B., Bhattacharya, A., and Ghosh, D. Protection of testicular dysfunctions by MTEC, a formulated herbal drug, in streptozotocin induced diabetic rat. Biol Pharm Bull 2007;30(1):84-90. View Abstract
  11. Pari, L. and Venkateswaran, S. Protective effect of Coccinia indica on changes in the fatty acid composition in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Pharmazie 2003;58(6):409-412. View Abstract
  12. Shibib, B. A., Khan, L. A., and Rahman, R. Hypoglycaemic activity of Coccinia indica and Momordica charantia in diabetic rats: depression of the hepatic gluconeogenic enzymes glucose-6-phosphatase and fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase and elevation of both liver and red-cell shunt enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. Biochem J 5-15-1993;292 ( Pt 1):267-270. View Abstract
  13. Singh, N., Singh, S. P., Vrat, S., Misra, N., Dixit, K. S., and Kohli, R. P. A study on the anti-diabetic activity of Coccinia indica in dogs. Indian J Med Sci 1985;39(2):27-9, 42. View Abstract
  14. Venkateswaran, S. and Pari, L. Effect of Coccinia indica on blood glucose, insulin and key hepatic enzymes in experimental diabetes. Pharm Biol 2002;40(3):165-170.
  15. Wasantwisut, E. and Viriyapanich, T. Ivy gourd (Coccinia grandis Voigt, Coccinia cordifolia, (Coccinia indica) in human nutrition and traditional applications. World Rev Nutr Diet 2003;91:60-66. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.