Fiery costus or spiral flag, is a herbal plant from costaceae family native of Brazil. In India, it is known as “Insulin plant” because of its use in Ayurveda and siddha medicine to treat diabetes (1). The leaves of the plant are dark green and fleshy. The plant grows up to a height of about two feet with a number of broad lengthy leaves forming around the stem like a spiral.
The plant is mainly used for its anti-diabetic properties even though it contains many other medicinal properties. There are studies that suggest the usage of the plant in the treatment of Ascaris, asthma, and bronchitis.
The study on the contents of the insulin plant and its application in the modern medical field is in initial stages only. Only during recent years some authenticated studies and the observations have been revealed (2).
So far, the plant is known to contain many nutrients beneficial to health. The plant is rich in protein, iron, and anti-oxidants like orsorbic acid, a-tocopherol, beta-carotene, terpenoids, steroids, and flavonoids. The plant contains carbohydrates, interpinoids, alkaloids, tannins, and saponins. The leaves contain 21.2% fiber. The leaf extract contains petroleum ether, Cyclohexane, acetone, and ethanol. Significant amounts of potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, and zinc are available in the plant.
The phenolic substances in the plant are responsible for the antioxidant properties. The antioxidants quercetin and diosgenin in the plant are used in reducing stress in the liver, pancreas, and kidneys. It also stimulates glycolytic enzymes besides controlling gluconeogenesis in animals affected by diabetics (3).
When insulin leaves are consumed along with other modalities of diabetic treatment, it provides effective glycemic control(4) in diabetic patients. Even in cases where blood sugar level is not controlled by oral drugs, consumption of insulin plant might be effective. In addition to that, consumption of insulin plant regularly reduces the intake of other oral drugs by half the quantity.
Insulin plant can be made into a salad along with tomato and fenugreek seeds. This is also one of the effective remedies that treat and controls blood sugar levels.
Other health benefits of Insulin plant
Though this plant is widely used for treating diabetes, there are many other health benefits that the plant provides when used regularly. This humble plant can be easily grown in a home garden and can be used for regular consumption.
This plant and its leaves are probiotic, that helps to soothe the colon and intestines. It contains natural fructose which helps to smoothen the digestion process. It also reduces flatulence(5) and gas accumulation in the intestines.
The natural anti-bacterial property in it helps to eliminate bacterial infection in the internal systems. It helps to clean the kidneys and flush out toxins. Excretion process will also be smooth when the plant and its extract is consumed regularly.
Improves bowel movement
Since the plant contains plenty of fiber in it, it helps to digest food effectively. It also helps the body to absorb nutrients completely from the food consumed. Foods that are rich in dietary fiber(6), aids smooth bowel movements and empties the bowel completely.
Eliminates free radicals
Anti-oxidants present in insulin plant helps to prevent and eliminate free radicals from the internal system. It also slows down the aging process of the internal organs.
When the extract the plant is consumed regularly, it helps to reduce blood pressure. It also treats hypertension(7) and reduces stress. The extract of the leaves or the leaves can be directly consumed to treat hypertension.
It also contains immunity-boosting properties that strengthen immunity and improves resistance towards flu viruses and bacteria. It also cures a sore throat and flu symptoms.
Reduces cholesterol and aids weight loss
Regular consumption of the extract of the leaves can help you get rid of bad cholesterol in the body effectively. this also helps to use the energy and fat already accumulated internally.
Ethanolic extract of Costus igneus (insulin plant) has the ability to conduct antidiabetic effect. The study and research has proved that the diabetes level has reduced when tested in diabetic rats. This particular study had brought the plant to the notice of many scientists who are carrying researches in fining treatment options for diabetes mellitus from Costus igneus leaves. (8)
Studies show that when the insulin leaves from the insulin plant (Costus igeus) are consumed regularly, it reduces the fasting blood sugar level and postprandial blood sugar levels. This study has brought down the sugar levels to normal when tested in dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia rats.
These research evidence show that the regular consumption of the plant leaves and its extract can help you reduce blood sugar levels effectively. The extract of the leaves are available in powder form which can be used in making tea or can be mixed in warm water and consumed.
Follow the instructions in this simple recipe to know how to use insulin plant to treat diabetes mellitus.
Here is the recipe.