The Benefits of Ivy Gourd

Ivy Gourd

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Ivy gourd is a tropical plant used in herbal medicine and in a variety of recipes. Available in supplement form, ivy gourd's roots, fruit, and leaves are said to offer a range of health benefits. Proponents claim that ivy gourd can help regulate blood sugar levels and, in turn, prevent or treat diabetes.

Ivy gourd is sometimes referred to as Coccinia indica, Coccinia cordifolia, Coccinia grandis, or tindora.

Uses for Ivy Gourd

Proponents suggest that ivy gourd may help 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

Despite the long history of use of ivy gourd as a remedy, research on its potential health benefits are very limited and dated. Here's a look at some findings from the available research:

A 2003 research review from Diabetes Care indicates that ivy gourd may be effective in the treatment of diabetes. For the review, investigators sized up 108 trials examining a total of 36 herbs and nine 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 examining the effectiveness of ivy gourd for diabetes control have been published in recent years.

One of the few more recently published trials is a 2008 study from Diabetes Care. The study involved 60 people 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 those in the placebo group).

What's more, a study published in Experimental Diabetes Research in 2011 found that blood sugar levels one and two hours after a meal were significantly lower in healthy participants who took ivy gourd compared to those who took a placebo, suggesting a blood-sugar-lowering effect.

Although a later report concluded that there is good evidence supporting the use of ivy gourd in the management of hyperglycemia, the authors of another review of herbs (including ivy gourd) frequently promoted to manage diabetes concluded "it is premature to actively recommend the use of any particular herb to treat either glucose or other risk factors."

Side Effects

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of regular use of ivy gourd capsules or other supplement forms. However, since ivy gourd may lower blood sugar levels, there's some concern that using ivy gourd in combination with diabetes medications may have harmful effects. In addition, many medical experts recommend discontinuing the use of ivy gourd supplements at least two weeks before 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 during pregnancy and by nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

It's important to note that self-treating a condition with ivy gourd and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Where to Find It

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

The Takeaway

Due to a lack of scientific support, it's too soon to recommend ivy gourd supplements for any health condition. If you're still considering the use of ivy gourd in the treatment of diabetes (or any other condition), make sure to consult your physician to discuss whether it is right for you.

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