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 in the treatment of diabetes. 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 modern medical field is in initial stages only. Only during recent years some authenticated studies and the observations have been revealed.
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-tocophenol, beta-carotene, terpinoids, steroids and flavonoids. The plant contains carbohydrates, interpinoids, alkaloids, tannins and saponins. The leaves contain 21.2% fiber. The leaf extract contain 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 activities of the leaves. The antioxidants quercetin and diosgenin in the plant are used in reducing stress in the liver, pancreas and kidneys and stimulate glycolytic enzymes besides controlling gluconeogenesis in animals affected by diabetics.
When insulin leaves are consumed along with other modalities of diabetic treatment, it provides effective glycemic control in diabetic patients. Even in cases where blood sugar level is not controlled by oral drugs, consumption of insulin plant is able to control it. In addition to that, consumption of insulin plant regularly reduces the intake of other oral drugs by half the quantity.
We conclude that the Ethanolic extract of Costus igneus have potent antidiabetic effect in alloxan induced diabetic rats. The present investigation has also opened avenues for further research especially with reference to the development of potent formulation for diabetes mellitus from Costus igneus leaves. (Bhat, et al., 2010)
Bhat, V. et al., 2010. Antidiabetic activity of insulin plant (Costus igneus) leaf extract in diabetic rats. Journal of Pharmacy Research, pp. 608-611.
The leaves of insulin plant (Costus igeus) reduced the fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels, bringing them down towards normal, in dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia in rats. (Shetty, et al., 2010)
Shetty, A. J. et al., 2010. Effect of the insulin plant (Costus igneus) leaves on dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia. Int J Ayurveda Res, pp. 100-102.
Here is the recipe.