Costus spp.

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

  • C. afar, C. afer, C. albus, C. allenii, C. amazonicus, C. amazonicus subsp. Krukovii, C. anachiri, C. ananassae, C. anomocalyx, C. arabica, C. arabicus, C. arabicus ‘Variegatus’, C. araneosus, C. argenteus, C. asplundii, C. asteranthus, C. bakeri, C. barbatus (Red Velvet Ginger), C. beckii, C. bicolor, C. bingervillensis, C. bracteatus, C. brasiliensis, C. cava, C. cernuus, C. chartaceus, C. chinensis, C. chrysocephalus, C. ciliatus, C. claviger, C. clemensae, C. comosus, C. comosus var. bakeri, C. congestiflorus, C. congestus, C. conicus, C. cordatus, C. cupreifolius, C. curcumoides, C. curvibracteatus (Dwarf Orange Ginger), C. curvibracteatus ‘Green Mountain’ (Green Mountain Spiral Flag), C. cuspidatus (Spiral Ginger), C. cylindricus, C. deistelii, C. dendrophilus, C. dewevrei, C. dinklagei, C. dirzoi, C. discolor, C. dubius, C. dussii, C. edulis, C. elegans, C. engleranus, C. englerianus, C. eryterophyllus, C. erythrocoryne, C. erythrophyllus (Blood Red Spiral Costus), C. erythrothyrsus, C. fimbriatus, C. fissiligulatus, C. foliaceus, C. formosanus, C. formosus, C. fragilis, C. friedrichsenii, C. fusiformis, C. gabonensis, C. geothyrsus, C. giganteus, C. glaber, C. glabratus, C. glaucus, C. globosus, C. guanaiense, C. guanaiensis (Cana De India), C. guanaiensis Rusby var. macrostrobilus (K.Schum.) Maas (Cana De India), C. guanaiensis var. asplundii, C. guanaiensis var. macrostrobilus (Cana De India), C. guanaiensis var. tarmicus, C. guianensis, C. guianicus, C. hasseltii, C. hirsutus, C. ‘Hot Lips’, C. igneus, C. insularis, C. juruanus, C. kingii, C. lacerus, C. laevis, C. lanceolatus, C. lasius, C. lateriflorus, C. laterifolius, C. latifolius, C. laxus, C. ledermannii, C. letestui, C. le-testui, C. leucanthus, C. ligularis, C. lima, C. lima var. scabremarginatus, C. lima var. scabrimarginatus, C. littoralis, C. longebracteolatus, C. longibracteolatus, C. lucanusianus, C. lucanusianus ‘Yellow Form’, C. luteus, C. maboumiensis, C. macranthus, C. macrostrobilus, C. macrostrobilus var. macrostrobilus, C. maculates, C. malaccensis, C. malorticanus, C. malortieanus (Stepladder Plant), C. ‘Maroon Chalice’, C. maximus, C. megalobractea, C. megalobracteata, C. mexicanus, C. micranthus, C. microcephalus, C. montanus, C. mooreanus, C. mosaicus, C. nemotrichus, C. nepalensis, C. ngouniensis, C. nitidus, C. niveopurpureus, C. niveus, C. nov, C. nudicaulis, C. nutans, C. oblitterans, C. oblongus, C. oligophyllus, C. osae (Costus), C. paradoxus, C. pauciflorus, C. paucifolius, C. phaeotrichus, C. phlociflorus, C. phyllocephalus, C. pictus, C. pilgeri, C. pisonis, C. pistiifolius, C. plicatus, C. plowmanii, C. podocephalus, C. potierae, C. productus, C. productus var. strigosus, C. pterometra, C. pubescens, C. pulcherrimus, C. pulchriflorus, C. pulverulentus (Spiral Ginger), C. pulverulentus ‘serena’, C. pumilus, C. pungens, C. quasi-appendiculatus, C. radicans, C. ramosus, C. registrator, C. ricus, C. rubber, C. rumphianus, C. sanguineus, C. sarmentosus, C. scaber, C. scaberulus, C. schlechteri, C. sepacuitensis, C. sericeus, C. skutchii, C. speciosus (Spiral Ginger), C. speciosus ‘Foster Variegated’ (Variegated Spiral Ginger), C. speciosus ‘Variegatus’ (Cane Reed), C. speciosus tetraploid, C. spectabilis, C. spicatus (Spiked Spiral-Flag), C. spiralis (Spiral Ginger), C. spiralis (Jacq.) Roscoe var. spiralis, C. spiralis var. hirsutus, C. spiralis var. villosus, C. splendens, C. sprucei, C. steinbachii, C. stenophyllus, C. subbiflorus, C. subsessilis, C. talbotii, C. talbottii, C. tappenbeckianus, C. tarapotensis, C. tatei, C. tonkinensis, C. trachyphyllus, C. tumphiana, C. ubangiensis, C. ulei, C. uniflorus, C. unifolius, C. vargasii, C. varzearum, C. verschaffeltianus, C. villosissimus, C. vinosus, C. violaceus, C. viridis, C. warmingii, C. wilsonii, C. woodsonii (Dwarf French Kiss), C. zamoranus, C. zerumbet, C. zingiberoides, cana-do-brejo (Portuguese – Brazil), Christmas costus, Costaceae (Zingiberales) (family), costunolide, Costus acanthocephalus, Costus acaulis, Costus acreanus, Costus adolphi-friderici, Costus cuspidatus (Nees & Mart.) Maas, Costus fragilis Maas, Costus fusiformis Maas, Costus lucanusianus J.Braun (Costaceae), Costus potierae F.Muell., Costus speciosus (crape ginger), Costus speciosus (Koen.) Sm., Costus speciosus (Koen. ex. Retz.) Sm., Costus speciosus (Koenig) Sm., Costus speciosus Sim, Costus spicatus (spiked spiralflag ginger), Costus spicatus Swartz (Costaceae), crape ginger, giant ginger, insulin plant, insulina plant, spiral ginger, Zingiberaceae (related family).

Background

  • Costus is from the Costaceae family, a group of tropical herblike plants. Costus is used in Guinean, Brazilian, and Trinidadian traditional medicine for various uses, as well as in the Dominican Republic and parts of the United States for diabetes.

  • Although several Costus species have a history of use, human studies showing the safety or efficacy of Costus species are lacking.

  • Note: The focus of this monograph is Costus spp. and not the herb with the common name costus.

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.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*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.

  • Abortion inducing, anemia, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antivenom, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, burns, cancer, contraception, cough (suppression or loosening of mucus), diabetes, diarrhea, diuretic, estrogen-like activity, fever, high cholesterol, inflammation, intestinal parasites, kidney stones, laxative, leprosy, pain relief, sexual arousal, skin diseases, tonic.

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)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for Costus in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for Costus 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 with known allergy or sensitivity to Costus spp., its parts, or members of the Zingiberaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Use cautiously due to a lack of safety evidence.

  • Avoid in children and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • Avoid in people with known allergy or sensitivity to Costus spp., its constituents, or members of the Zingiberaceae family.

  • Costus 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, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Costus may cause uterine contractions, have abortion-inducing effects, or increase insulin.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Although it has not been well studied in humans, Costus may have abortion-inducing effects or cause uterine contractions.

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of Costus 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

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

  • Because Costus contains estrogen-like chemicals, the effects of other agents believed to have estrogen-like properties may be altered.

  • Costus may also interact with agents for arthritis, cancer, inflammation, or pain relief; agents for bladder, kidney, or urinary stones; agents that may induce abortion; agents that promote urination; agents to treat disorders of the stomach or intestines; antibiotics; cholesterol-lowering agents; or oxytocin (a hormone for uterine contraction during childbirth).

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Costus 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.

  • Because Costus contains estrogen-like chemicals, the effects of other agents believed to have estrogen-like properties may be altered.

  • Costus may also interact with antibiotics; antioxidants; cholesterol-lowering herbs and supplements; herbs and supplements for arthritis, cancer, inflammation, or pain relief; herbs and supplements for bladder, kidney, or urinary stones; herbs and supplements that may induce abortion; herbs and supplements that promote urination; or herbs and supplements to treat disorders of the stomach or intestines.

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. Anaga, A. O., Njoku, C. J., Ekejiuba, E. S., Esiaka, M. N., and Asuzu, I. U. Investigations of the methanolic leaf extract of Costus afer. Ker for pharmacological activities in vitro and in vivo. Phytomedicine. 2004;11(2-3):242-248. View Abstract
  2. Bavarva, J. H. and Narasimhacharya, A. V. Antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of Costus speciosus in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Phytother.Res 2008;22(5):620-626. View Abstract
  3. Devi, V. D. and Urooj, A. Hypoglycemic potential of Morus indica. L and Costus igneus. Nak.–a preliminary study. Indian J Exp.Biol. 2008;46(8):614-616. View Abstract
  4. Eliza, J., Daisy, P., Ignacimuthu, S., and Duraipandiyan, V. Antidiabetic and antilipidemic effect of eremanthin from Costus speciosus (Koen.)Sm., in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Chem Biol.Interact. 11-10-2009;182(1):67-72. View Abstract
  5. Eliza, J., Daisy, P., Ignacimuthu, S., and Duraipandiyan, V. Normo-glycemic and hypolipidemic effect of costunolide isolated from Costus speciosus (Koen ex. Retz.)Sm. in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Chem Biol.Interact. 5-15-2009;179(2-3):329-334. View Abstract
  6. Gireesh, G., Thomas, S. K., Joseph, B., and Paulose, C. S. Antihyperglycemic and insulin secretory activity of Costus pictus leaf extract in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats and in in vitro pancreatic islet culture. J Ethnopharmacol. 6-25-2009;123(3):470-474. View Abstract
  7. Keller, A. C., Vandebroek, I., Liu, Y., Balick, M. J., Kronenberg, F., Kennelly, E. J., and Brillantes, A. M. Costus spicatus tea failed to improve diabetic progression in C57BLKS/J db/db mice, a model of type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Ethnopharmacol. 1-21-2009;121(2):248-254. View Abstract
  8. Lans, C., Harper, T., Georges, K., and Bridgewater, E. Medicinal and ethnoveterinary remedies of hunters in Trinidad. BMC.Complement Altern.Med 2001;1:10. View Abstract
  9. Magassouba, F. B., Diallo, A., Kouyate, M., Mara, F., Mara, O., Bangoura, O., Camara, A., Traore, S., Diallo, A. K., Zaoro, M., Lamah, K., Diallo, S., Camara, G., Traore, S., Keita, A., Camara, M. K., Barry, R., Keita, S., Oulare, K., Barry, M. S., Donzo, M., Camara, K., Tote, K., Berghe, D. V., Totte, J., Pieters, L., Vlietinck, A. J., and Balde, A. M. Ethnobotanical survey and antibacterial activity of some plants used in Guinean traditional medicine. J Ethnopharmacol. 10-8-2007;114(1):44-53. View Abstract
  10. Mosihuzzaman, M., Nahar, N., Ali, L., Rokeya, B., Khan, A. K., Nur-E-Alam, and Nandi, R. P. Hypoglycemic effects of three plants from eastern Himalayan belt. Diabetes Res 1994;26(3):127-138. View Abstract
  11. Owolabi, O. J., Omogbai, E. K., and Falodun, A. Oxytocic effects of the aqueous leaf extract of Costus lucanusianus – family Costaceae on isolated non-pregnant rat uterus. Pak.J Pharm.Sci. 2010;23(2):207-211. View Abstract
  12. Quintans Junior, L. J., Santana, M. T., Melo, M. S., de Sousa, D. P., Santos, I. S., Siqueira, R. S., Lima, T. C., Silveira, G. O., Antoniolli, A. R., Ribeiro, L. A., and Santos, M. R. Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of Costus spicatus in experimental animals. Pharm.Biol. 2010;48(10):1097-1102. View Abstract
  13. Shetty, A. J., Choudhury, D., Rejeesh, Nair, V., Kuruvilla, M., and Kotian, S. Effect of the insulin plant (Costus igneus) leaves on dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia. Int.J Ayurveda.Res 2010;1(2):100-102. View Abstract
  14. Shilpa, K., Sangeetha, K. N., Muthusamy, V. S., Sujatha, S., and Lakshmi, B. S. Probing key targets in insulin signaling and adipogenesis using a methanolic extract of Costus pictus and its bioactive molecule, methyl tetracosanoate. Biotechnol.Lett. 2009;31(12):1837-1841. View Abstract
  15. Vijayalakshmi, M. A. and Sarada, N. C. Screening of Costus speciosus extracts for antioxidant activity. Fitoterapia 2008;79(3):197-198. 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.