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Consult with your diabetes care team before starting any nutritional supplement. Blood glucose levels should be checked more often to determine the effectiveness of the supplement or if a medication change is needed.
Ivy gourd (Coccinia indica) is a unique tropical plant that is a member of the family of Cucurbitaceae. It grows well in India and Thailand as well as in tropical areas such as Hawaii.
Ivy gourd has been classified as a medicinal herb in traditional Thai and ayurvedic medicine. The parts used in diabetes treatment are the leaves, but the primary use of ivy gourd is culinary, and it is considered a vegetable.
Ivy gourd contains beta-carotene, a major vitamin A precursor from plant sources. It is also considered a good source of protein and fiber.
Offers Diabetes Benefits
According to a study published in a 1998 issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, the mechanism for diabetes control is that ivy gourd may suppress the activity of certain enzymes involved in glucose production, such as G-6-phosphatase.
In 1979, one small trial was done in 32 middle-aged people with type 2. Patients took three tablets of the 300 mg leaf extract or three tablets of a placebo twice daily for six weeks. Participants were taken off all medications during the study.
Ten of the 16 in the ivy gourd group showed marked improvement in oral glucose tolerance tests, but none of the placebo group showed improvement. Average fasting glucose declined from 179 mg/dl to 122 mg/dl at six weeks in the ivy gourd group. In the placebo group, average fasting glucose decreased from 195 mg/dl at baseline to 181 mg/d at six weeks.
The researchers reported that there were no side effects and no adverse effects on liver or kidney function.
Another trial compared 70 patients for 12 weeks. One group was given 6 gm daily of dried pellets made from fresh ivy gourd leaves; one group was given sulfonylureas; and one group was given a placebo.
The decline in blood glucose for those on ivy gourd was similar to those on the sulfonylurea, an oral type 2 diabetes medication that stimulates the beta cells in the pancreas to produce more insulin.
Advice for Patients
No adverse side effects or drug interactions have been reported in people taking ivy gourd. The dose used has been 300 mg of the ground leaves, three tablets twice daily.
There are no reported cases of drug interactions involving ivy gourd. Any supplement that may lower blood glucose levels can cause hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) if taken by individuals with insulin-treated diabetes or individuals on insulin secretagogues such as glyburide, glipizide, Glucotrol XL, Amaryl, Prandin or Starlix. Consult your healthcare provider before starting to take ivy gourd if you have diabetes. Be sure to monitor your blood glucose levels more frequently if you take ivy gourd.
May 1, 2005
Diabetes Health is the essential resource for people living with diabetes- both newly diagnosed and experienced as well as the professionals who care for them. We provide balanced expert news and information on living healthfully with diabetes. Each issue includes cutting-edge editorial coverage of new products, research, treatment options, and meaningful lifestyle issues.