What is Insulin Plant?

Insulin plant, Step ladder, and Spiral flag are some of the names that were awarded to Costus Igneus Nak, also known by its botanical name as Chamaecostus cuspidatus. A plant native to South and Central America, Costus Igneus Nak comes in the plant family Costaceae and is one of the genus Costus. Consisting of almost 150 species, Costus is the biggest in the group, and found mostly in tropical climates. Though native to the Americas, this plant can be seen growing fast and furious in the gardens of Southern India, where has obtained the nickname "Insulin Plant."

Insulin Plant health benefits for Type 2 Diabetes

As you may have guessed correctly, Insulin Plant got its name in the anti-hyperglycemic properties which the leaves of the plant have. A 2012 research study was done in Southern India of the plants traditionally used by the tribals to treat diabetes. An interesting find was the use of leaves of Keukand (Hindi) for the anti-diabetic effects of the plant. [1]

See: Control blood glucose in normal range for diabetes

A number of studies have been completed to assess the anti-diabetic properties of Insulin Plant.  a number of researches have been carried out to assess the anti-diabetic potential of the plant. Besides, it's been demonstrated to have various pharmacological activities like hypolipidemic, diuretic, antioxidant, anti inflammatory, anti-cancerous. Further, various phytochemical investigations show the existence of carbohydrates, triterpenoids, proteins, alkaloids, tannins, saponins, flavonoids, steroid, and considerable quantities of trace elements. Researchers have compiled and explored the unique pharmacological and phytochemical research reported in this 2014 report. These studies have shown that extracts from the leaves of the insulin successfully decreased blood glucose levels. [2]

See: Ayurvedic treatment for Diabetes Type 2

In another cross-sectional human research, published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, found that regular use of Insulin leaves by diabetic subjects led to a "statistically significant decrease in the fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels in most of the patients who consumed the leaves."[3]

See: Lower blood sugar with homeopathy

There have been a collection of studies published describing the positive correlations between the leaves of the Insulin Plant and people with diabetes. The leaves are full of iron, protein and a range of antioxidant components like B-carotene and a-tocopherol. These properties, in conjunction with its own "natural insulin" material (phyto-compounds that mimic the metabolic activity of insulin when ingested), aids in C. igneus' ability to reduce blood glucose in people who have diabetes.

Research in Insulin Plant for Diabetes

Study: Effect Of The Leaves of the Insulin Plant On Blood Glucose Levels In Diabetic Patients: [3]


Background: The complications of Diabetes mellitus are related to glycaemic control. Normoglycaemia or near normoglycaemia is the desirable, but often elusive, goal for most patients. Irrespective of the amount of hyperglycaemia, improvement in glycaemic control will diminish the chance of diabetes complications. Consumption of the leaves of the insulin plant was claimed to attain glycaemic control and hence, we've proposed the present cross sectional study in diabetic patients.

Aim Of The Study: Analysis of glycaemic control in diabetic patients that were consuming the leaves of the insulin plant and also to understand the adverse effects/ benefits of insulin plant foliage consumption.

Materials And Techniques / Statistical Analysis: A cross Sectional analysis was conducted after taking informed consent from the patients. Retrospective data was gathered from diabetic patients who consumed the leaves of the insulin plant. Wilcoxson's paired test was that the statistical method that was used for evaluation of the data.

Results & Conclusion: Statistically significant reduction in the fasting and postprandial blood glucose levels in all the patients who consumed the leaves.

Precautions & Side Effects


Objective: Costus pictus commonly known as spiral Ginger or insulin plant has been grown in gardens as ornamental plant particularly in Kerala and utilized to control sugar levels. The aim of the present survey was to collect information on the usage of the plant as a control measure for diabetes mellitus in a community in central Kerala.

Methods: The study was conducted with the support of a semi-structured questionnaire. The questionnaire commonly included questions regarding knowledge of insulin plant, its usage, frequency and quantity of usage, compared to plant material consumption with food ingestion, effects associated with blood glucose level along with other symptoms, any distress or complications after usage among diabetic and normal men and women. The information obtained was quantitatively transferred to an excel sheet and statistical evaluation was completed.

Results: From the survey, it can be inferred that Costus Pictus is widely utilized to normalise their glucose level. Individuals that are using insulin plant haven't done any species identification scientifically. Because of lack of knowledge and difficulty in diagnosis (particularly in the non-flowering season), lots of individuals are using Costus speciosus without understanding its adverse effects and allergies.

Conclusion: From the survey, it can be concluded that Costus pictus is widely utilized in some portion of the community in Kerala, to normalize their glucose level. It's justified to increase the awareness in the community about different species of Costus plant and negative effects related to similar species

Therefore, more research is required that affirms the insulin Plant's favorable effects on blood glucose, aside from ensuring it is safe for humans. Until then, it's best to wait till more scientific research has been done for this miracle plant.


Another research study of the leaves of the insulin plant revealed they contain high amounts of palmitic acid. This material is known to have harmful consequences, such as damaging of heart muscle cells in rats and raising the "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in people. So, the researchers of the study suggest against the long and constant use of the insulin plant. (5)


Although the principal interest surrounding this Insulin Plant includes the therapy and control of those suffering with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, there also has been research centered on the antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties of the insulin plant also. With the promise shown in these recent studies, and a really daunting outbreak of diabetes globally, C. Igneus seems to be of great advantage to our planet.

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