The Benefits of Ivy Gourd

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 alternative medicine proponents suggest ivy gourd for the following conditions:

Ivy gourd is also purported to reduce inflammation. In addition, ivy gourd leaves are sometimes applied to the 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.)


Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of regular use of ivy gourd supplements. 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.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. 

Where to Find It

Available for purchase online, ivy gourd supplements are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Using Ivy Gourd for Health 

Due to a lack of scientific support, it's too soon to recommend ivy gourd for 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.

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