Emerging Health Benefits of Insulin Plant


The insulin plant is popularly known as the spiral flag and fiery costus. It belongs to the family of Cactaceae. The native of this plant is central America. This herb is widely used in Ayurveda and herbal medicine. It is primarily used in the treatment of diabetes because it has anti-diabetic properties.

The leaves of this plant have corosolic acid that helps to generate insulin to treat diabetes. It strengthens the beta cells for the build-up of insulin in the human body; that’s why it is called an “insulin plant” in India.

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It is a perennial plant that reaches up to 2 ft with spirally arranged leaves. And the flowers of the insulin plant are very attractive.
Apart from the anti-diabetic property, some researchers have proved that this herb is boasted with various pharmacological activities, such as diuretic, hypolipidemic, anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-cancerous. In addition, the research also reveals the presence of various phytochemicals, such as triterpenoids, carbohydrates, alkaloids, proteins, saponins, tannins, steroid, flavonoids.

Common Names of Insulin Plant

  • The scientific name of the insulin plant is Costus Igneus. 
  • Most of the people in Tamil Nadu know it only as Insulin Plant, but it has several other names. 
  • Some people call it Kostum. It is called Keukand and Jarul in Hindi. 
  • It is also called fiery costus, spiral flag, step ladder in some other languages. 

Insulin Plant Cultivation

In Siddha, this herb is known as kostum. The botanical name of this herb is Chamaecostus cuspidatus, and it is mostly cultivated in the Himalayan regions and Kashmir for its root. The native of this herb is South and Central America. Now, it is widely sold in herb nurseries in India, so you can get this insulin plant easily from them. 

This upright perennial plant has spirally arranged long leaves and attractive flowers. It grows very quickly, and stem cutting is used for propagation. Insulin plants need sunlight to grow, but it also grows in slightly shady areas. 

This herb should be planted in fertile soil with ample moisture for good growth. Also, it is recommended to plant near water. In south India, this herb is grown for both ornamental and medicinal purposes. 

Insulin Plant Description

The Insulin plant is a spreading, perennial, and upright herb that can reach up to 2 ft in height. The tallest stems of this herb fall over and lay on the ground. The long leaves are arranged spirally around the stem, and the arching clumps rise from underground. The length of the leaves is 4-8 inches and is more attractive. 

The leaves look dark green on the upper side and light purple on the underneath. The insulin plant flowers are in beautiful orange color that blooms in warm months. The flowers’ dimension is 1.5 inches, which looks like a cone head at the tip of the branches. The fruits of this plant are inconspicuous, its size is less than 0.5 inches, and the color is green; that’s why it is not showy.

How to Grow an Insulin Plant at Home?

➝ The place you choose to grow the plant should balance both shade and sunlight.

➝ It does not need deep planting;  2-3 inch depth is good enough for planting and also for good growth.

➝ Add some peat moss or organic compost with the soil for better drainage.

➝ Keep the plant’s rhizome at 1-inch deep in soil with the oil cane facing an upward position. You should also cover the rhizome properly with the soil and press down the soil with the shovel for firmness.

➝ Fertilize the plant only during summer, and also do it once in a month.

➝ Your plant will grow smoothly by spreading wood chips, and organic mulch in the soil. 

➝ After the removal of leaf mold, you should fertilize it and water the plant.

➝ Some insects like caterpillars and mites may damage the plant, so apply insecticidal soap to avoid it.

Insulin Plant Medicinal Properties

Antioxidant Property

A study proves that the oral administration of ethanolic extract of the insulin plant rhizome at 200mg/kg body weight given to the diabetic rat for 30 days has shown notable results for the antioxidant properties.

The bioactive compound diosgenin and quercetin are antioxidants, which is good to treat oxidative stress in the pancreas, liver, and kidney. It has shown better results in diabetic rats. Moreover, it stimulates glycolytic enzymes and controls gluconeogenesis in diabetic rats.

Antimicrobial Property

The methanolic extract of the insulin plant has maximum anti-bacterial properties that will effectively react against Bacillus megaterium, gram-positive Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus luteus, Streptococcus lactis, Escherichia coli, gram-negative strains Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Enterobacter aerogenes, and Salmonella typhimurium.

The ethanolic extract isolated from the insulin plant has an average amount of antifungal and antibacterial properties that can react against Escherichia Coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans. Among the extract of various parts of the insulin plant, methanolic extract of the flower and stem has maximum inhibitory activity on the growth of tested microbes.

Anti-cancer Property

Researchers have found that the ethanolic extract of the insulin plant leaves has anti-cancer and anti-proliferative properties, which have the potential to reach in-vitro mammalian fibrosarcoma cells. The extract from the insulin plant bark has a strong anti-cancer property that effectively reacts against A549 and HT 29 cells.

Anodyne Property

Research proves that the insulin plant has anodyne property, which helps to reduce the sensitivity of the nervous system. The anodyne components of this plant will reduce pain. The paste of the insulin plant leaves is used to get better relief from pain.

Proven Health Benefits of Insulin Plant

The Bogor Agriculture Institute has conducted several types of research in insulin plants. That research proves that the insulin leaves have a high level of fructose which is necessary for the digestive system. The human digestive enzyme absorbs and filters exorbitant fructose; this process will normalize the blood sugar level in the body. Here we’ve mentioned some major health benefits of insulin leaves. 

Insulin Plant for Diabetes

The name of this herb itself reveals that insulin plants are most popular to treat diabetes by reducing the blood sugar level effectively. The fructose present in the insulin plant leaves regulates the increased blood sugar level. High levels of blood sugar are very dangerous, which can cause some organs to malfunction and also resist the nutrient flow in the body.

Regular consumption of insulin leaves can avoid these health issues and also prevent chronic diseases. Usually, taking one insulin plant leaves will effectively treat diabetes and it was proved by more than 15 clinical studies. Preparing decoction using the insulin leaves is the best way to treat diabetes. Boil a few insulin plant leaves for 10 minutes. Strain and drink that water two times per day to get good results. Here is a study to prove the use of Insulin plant leaves.

Also Read: Herbs for Diabetes

Reduce Cholesterol Level

The insulin plant leaves not only reduce the blood sugar level but also make a great impact on the blood sugar level. When the diabetic patient intakes these leaves, it induces the cholesterol level down. This is because the insulin plant has a high amount of water and water-soluble content that slows down the glucose absorption into the blood from the digestive system. It will give better assimilation and fat absorption for reducing the blood cholesterol level in the body. 

High blood cholesterol levels may lead to the risk of stroke, heart attack, or cancer. Cholesterol is a major problem for human health and the best way to avoid cholesterol is intaking the insulin plant. Regular consumption of insulin plant leaves will break down the food cholesterol level.

Also Read: Herbs & Spices To Lower Cholesterol

Natural Prebiotic for Better Digestion

The insulin plant has several vitamins and complex components. The working of those components is good for E-Coli bacteria which is good bacteria that grow in the gut. It helps in the smooth functioning of the human digestive system. And also, it leads to the proper absorption of nutrients from the food.

Moreover, the insulin plant leaves have a high level of fructose, which helps to improve the function of the colon system. Consumption of insulin plant leaves will ease out the excretion process.

It is recommended to chew one or two insulin plant leaves or drink decoction after the meal continuously for a month.

Also Read: Herbs Naturally Boost Digestion

Antioxidant Property of Insulin Plant

We all know that oxidation is a natural chemical reaction that produces free radicals. Those free radicals may cause some serious health issues such as cancer due to the breakdown of radicals into the body cells. For this reason, people are trying to get rid of free radicals because it is harmful to human health and affects skin health. 

The insulin plant has a moderate level of antioxidant property, which is more helpful for diabetic patients. It can reverse the oxidative stress of the kidney, liver, and pancreas that is caused by diabetes. The antioxidant property found in the insulin plant is around 90%. By regular consumption of the insulin plant leaves, our body will fight against the oxidation and beat the oxidation process that is present in the body cells.

Insulin Plant has Antibacterial Property

The insulin plant has a good level of anti-bacterial properties that can effectively fight against several gram-positive species. People who have a problem with their urination process can regularly consume these leaves for positive results. The insulin leaves extract will effectively kill the bad bacterias in the urinary pipe. Furthermore, it automatically smoothens the excretory function and gives better relief, but you have to drink a lot of water to extract it.

Maintains Kidney Health

The kidney problem starts from a kidney infection to kidney stones and finally leads to kidney malfunction. Once you’ve suffered from a kidney malfunction, you can never get back to normal. So you have to do blood-washing to sustain for the rest of your life. 

The insulin plant leaves and rhizomes have a diuretic effect, which influences the potassium and sodium clearance for regulating the diuresis. With the proper diuresis and automatic excretory balanced rate, you can improve your kidney health. People who are suffering from a kidney infection or kidney stones can drink the insulin leaves tea every day, it will improve kidney function.

Cures Liver Illness

Mostly, liver diseases are caused because of fat settling in the liver, which leads to some chronic illnesses. Having too much fat leads to an unhealthy lifestyle and so you can get affected easily by some health problems like cancer. The insulin plant leaves have several vital components, which help to break down the settlement of fatty acid in the liver and improves liver function.

Also Read: Herbs For Healthy Liver Function

People suffering from liver problems can consume insulin leaf drink at least 2-3 times per day. This will dissolve the poison in the liver.

Maintains Bladder Health

The problems in the bladder may be caused due to many reasons, such as lack of water or virus infection in the urinary tract. The diuretic compounds in the insulin plant help to improve bladder health. Keeping the bladder healthy is very important; otherwise, it causes some serious infections. 

The leafy extract of an insulin plant regulates the urination process. It is good to take before going to sleep because it maintains the proper work of the bladder at night and healthily eliminates it every morning.

Boosts Immunity

Insulin plant leaves naturally have antioxidant property, which automatically encourages the immune system by eliminating the free radicals from the body. By having a well-maintained immune system, you can live a healthy lifestyle. 

You can start your day by drinking insulin plant leaves extract with honey. Drinking it at least two times a day will slightly increase the immune system and protect your body from illness.

Also Read: Herbs to Boost Immune System

Prevents Cancer

“Prevention is better than cure”. A study on the ethanolic extract of the insulin plant proves that it has a maximal amount of anti-proliferative and anti-cancer properties. This study proves the anti-cancer property of this plant effectively and fights against A549 and HT 29 cells. 

Consuming the extract regularly will prevent the growth of cancer cells in the body. The free radical is one of the main reasons for cancer, the antioxidant property of these leaves will eliminate the poisoning of free radicals from the body.

Also Read: Herbs to Treat Cancer

Cures Asthma

Studies have proved that the insulin plant has the anti-inflammation property and so it has the ability to control the inflammation in the airway. Moreover, it helps to soothe the lung muscles that remain tight during an asthma attack.
Consumption of insulin plant leaves gives a great benefit to people suffering from asthma attacks.

Also Read: Herbs for Asthma

Reduces Blood Pressure

The result of high blood pressure is very dangerous. Hypertension may lead people to death; it makes your heart work fast and pushes your brain to get a stroke. Consuming the leaves of this herb will reduce blood pressure levels. Drinking the insulin leaves potion is good therapy for high blood pressure. Drinking insulin leaves potion is good therapy for high blood pressure.

Also Read: Herbal Remedies For Blood Pressure

Helps To Reduce Bronchitis Symptoms

Bronchitis is caused when the airway is very narrow. This is because of the inflammation and the excessive mucus present in the air passage. The essential compounds present in the insulin leaves have anti-inflammatory properties that work well with inflammation. It reduces the swellings in the airway and allows airflow freely.

Consuming the tea every day will help to reduce the inflammation and gradually cure bronchitis.

Used as a Sore Throat Therapy

People who have a sore throat will feel pain at first, and then it will be itchy inside the throat. Sore throat is caused by throat inflammation, and it leads to influenza. The impact of sore throat is very painful and is hard to eat, drink, swallow, and talk to. Consuming the hot insulin leaves every morning and night will gradually heal the sore throat.

Treats Fever

In Ayurveda, the insulin plant leaves are good medicine for fever. Chewing one leaf in the morning will give instant relief from fever. Some studies have proved that insulin plants have antipyretic properties, which control fever and the patients can recover from it easily.

Also Read: Natural Herbs to Cure Fever

Insulin Plant For Skin diseases

The insulin plant has an excellent protective action for the skin and can be used for treating skin problems. Apply the insulin plant leaves paste and allow it to dry. Then wash your face. Do this process for two weeks; you can see that your skin gets tightened and glows. This increases the elasticity of the skin.

Benefits of Insulin Plant Flower

1. The flowers of the insulin plant also have more benefits, just like the leaves. Here we described some of the ways that flowers are used.

2. The petals of the insulin flower are very sweet and have certain nutritive values.

3. Apart from medicinal use, the flowers of the insulin plants look like the garden’s attractive cover. This plant is a low grower, and it looks so attractive with its pretty red color spikes.

4. Sometimes the insulin flowers are cultivated for ornamental and decorative use.

Insulin Plant Side Effects

It is common that every herb has some side effects, but the insulin plant does not have any strong side effects. People can consume the insulin plant leaves on a daily basis. A moderate level of insulin leaves consumption is completely safe, but it is better to avoid direct consumption of leaves because it has a strong taste. People can intake this herb as a potion, tea prepared with insulin leaves, and extract fresh insulin leaves. You can also consume it with honey for taste.

The only thing we should consider in the insulin leaves is, this herb is not safe for pregnant or lactating women. It may affect the hormonal balance and lead to further complications, so they should not consume this leaf.

The side effects caused by the overdose of insulin leaves are skin irritation, gastrointestinal discomfort, and hypoglycemia.

What should I consider before using Insulin Plant?

Despite the food supplements being advertised as “safe” or “all-nature”, we should treat them as conventional medicine. Certain herbal medicines can interact with other medicines that you are using and it increases the risk of toxicity and drug reactions.

Before getting the herbal medicine, you should inform your doctor:

1. If you are using medicines in hypoglycemic agents or insulin.

2. If you have any allergy issues due to the use of some other medicines, foods, or substances.

3. If you have some fundamental health problem, such as liver or kidney damage.

Insulin Plant Dosage: How to Use

The insulin plant dosage varies from one person to another based on their physical condition. Normally, it is recommended to take two times a day. The insulin leaves are not recommended for children. People should consult with a pharmacist or doctor for an alternative option.

Different Process of taking Insulin Plant leaves: 
The insulin plant supplements are available in the following dosage forms.

  • Dried powder
  • Liquid Extract
  • Capsule
  • Tea

Insulin Plant Leaf

Take one fresh insulin plant leaf and chew it, which helps to reduce the blood sugar level.

Insulin Plant Powder

You can also use powder of the insulin leaves. The process of making the insulin plant powder is very simple. Collect the leaves, leave them to dry in the shade, and then powder the dried leaves using a dry mixer. You’ll get a fine powder of insulin leaf. Usually, doctors recommend 1/2 tsp of powder per day.

Insulin Plant Tea

If you can’t chew the fresh insulin leaves, you can prepare a decoction for the best result.

The process of preparing insulin plant tea is:

1. Take 5-7 slices of fresh insulin plant leaves.

2. Wash the leaves underwater and let it dry for some time.

3. Set a pot to boil 3-5 cups of water.

4. Wait until the water starts to boil, then put the leaves in the pot and allow it to boil until the water reduces to one cup.

5. Then filter the leaves before pouring them into the cup.

6. You can add some honey for taste.

7. Regularly drinking this tea once a day will give a great result.

Final Words

Diabetes is one of the dangerous health problems. In Ayurveda, the insulin plant is an effective medicine for that. In this article, we have provided the list of health benefits of the insulin plant and the way you have to take it. Moreover, we have provided some other information about this herb and hope it will help you. If you like to take the insulin plant for improving your physical health, you should keep in mind that if you immediately discontinue the consumption of this herb, it may cause some health issues. So consult your doctor before using it.

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