Ivy Gourd

Ivy gourd (Coccinia indica) is a uniquetropical plant that is a member of the familyof Cucurbitaceae. It grows well in India andThailand as well as in tropical areas such asHawaii.

Ivy gourd has been classified as a medicinalherb in traditional Thai and ayurvedicmedicine. The parts used in diabetestreatment are the leaves, but the primary useof ivy gourd is culinary, and it is considered avegetable.

Ivy gourd contains beta-carotene, a majorvitamin A precursor from plant sources. Itis also considered a good source of proteinand fiber.

Offers Diabetes Benefits

According to a study published in a 1998issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences,the mechanism for diabetes control isthat ivy gourd may suppress the activityof certain enzymes involved in glucoseproduction, such as G-6-phosphatase.

In 1979, one small trial was done in 32middle-aged people with type 2. Patientstook three tablets of the 300 mg leaf extractor three tablets of a placebo twice daily forsix weeks. Participants were taken off allmedications during the study.

Ten of the 16 in the ivy gourd group showedmarked improvement in oral glucosetolerance tests, but none of the placebogroup showed improvement. Averagefasting glucose declined from 179 mg/dlto 122 mg/dl at six weeks in the ivy gourdgroup. In the placebo group, averagefasting glucose decreased from 195 mg/dl atbaseline to 181 mg/d at six weeks.

The researchers reported that there were noside effects and no adverse effects on liver orkidney function.

Another trial compared 70 patients for 12weeks. One group was given 6 gm daily ofdried pellets made from fresh ivy gourdleaves; one group was given sulfonylureas;and one group was given a placebo.

The decline in blood glucose for thoseon ivy gourd was similar to those on thesulfonylurea, an oral type 2 diabetesmedication that stimulates the beta cells inthe pancreas to produce more insulin.

Advice for Patients

No adverse side effects or drug interactionshave been reported in people taking ivygourd. The dose used has been 300 mg ofthe ground leaves, three tablets twice daily.

Drug Interactions

There are no reported cases of druginteractions involving ivy gourd. Anysupplement that may lower blood glucoselevels can cause hypoglycemia (low bloodglucose) if taken by individuals withinsulin-treated diabetes or individuals oninsulin secretagogues such as glyburide,glipizide, Glucotrol XL, Amaryl, Prandin orStarlix. Consult your healthcare providerbefore starting to take ivy gourd if youhave diabetes. Be sure to monitor yourblood glucose levels more frequently ifyou take ivy gourd.

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