The Insulin Plant

The Insulin Plant

Currently, an estimated 537 million adults ages 20-79 years old suffer from diabetes according to the International Diabetes Federation. While many of these individuals seek out western medicine practices, others prefer a more holistic approach, one of which is using the Indian plant, Costus Igneus, as an herbal remedy. Called many names, including step ladder, spiral flag, fiery costus, and the insulin plant, it is this last nickname that gives the Costus Igneus its star value. Belonging to the family of Costaceae, which consists of nearly 150 species, what sets Costus Igneus apart from the rest of its family members is its powerful medicinal properties in regulating insulin in the human body.

Medicinal Benefits

While many parts of the insulin plant provide health benefits, it’s the leaves, specifically, that host its most impressive quality. Rich in Phyto-compound nutrients that simulate the metabolic action of insulin upon ingestion, consuming insulin plant leaves has the ability to lower blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes.

The diabetic marvels of the insulin plant continue to come to light as the findings from clinical studies grow momentum. At this time, more than 15 clinical studies have proven the benefits of consuming various forms of Costus Igneus on a daily basis. One study in particular published by the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research discovered the following significant findings when consuming the insulin plant daily:

-All patients saw a statistically significant improvement in blood sugar levels

-All patients were able to reduce their insulin dose by half

-Even patients that failed to control their blood sugar using oral hypoglycemic drugs and non-allopathic medications were able to control their glucose levels using Costus Igneus

The Insulin Plant 1

In addition to its diabetes management benefits, the insulin plant leaves are also rich in iron and several antioxidant components, like B-carotene and a-tocopherol.  These nutrients, among others, that are found in the insulin plant leaves have been shown to help boost immunity, aid sore throats, improve skin health, maintain kidney and bladder health, and reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure.

Where to Find The Insulin Plant

Thriving best in tropical climates, the insulin plant is native to south and central America. However, it is popularly cultivated in gardens of Southern India, specifically Kashmir and the Himalayan regions. The insulin plant stands 2-3 feet from the ground with a reddish-brown stalk. It displays wide leaves, which are 4-8 inches long, and range in color from a very dark green hue to lime green. Blooming among the leaves are vibrant orangish-red flowers that are packed with nutrients and are described as sweet in flavor.The Insulin Plant 2

If you are looking to buy the beneficial insulin plant to grow at home yourself, you may be able to find them at local nurseries and plant sellers that provide the full plant or the seeds. Many Ayurveda stores sell insulin plants, as well. If you’re unable to find a local seller that supplies insulin plants, you can purchase them through online stores.

How to Grow It At Home

When grown outside, the insulin plant is versatile and low maintenance. Due to its love of warmer, tropical-like climates, it grows best in 9b through 11 growing zones. For the United States, these zones typically encompass California, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and other southern areas. Insulin plants are best planted in the early spring and typically blossom in temperatures ranging from 35 to 45 degrees.

  1. Choose a Planting Location: The insulin plant can adjust to growing in various textures and qualities of soil but prefers rich and well-draining soil. It can grow in full sun in milder climates or partial shade in hotter climates. The insulin plant enjoys moisture from soil and air and is often planted near water.
  2. Dig a Planting Hole: Insulin plants do not require deep planting. Dig beds 2 to 3 inches deep, and 2 to 3 feet apart from one another to allow room for growth.
  3. Add Compost for Optimum Foliage: This will improve drainage of the soil.
  4. Add Fertilizer: Use a general-purpose fertilizer in the spring to double the potency of the soil, and then monthly during the summer months.
  5. Use Organic Mulch: Scatter woodchips and other forms of organic mulch around the herb, especially to help insulate the plant during the winter months. Mulch should not be in contact with the plant stem. Refrain from over-watering the plant in the winter months.The Insulin Plant 4

For growing indoors, the following things should be considered:

  1. The insulin plant grows as a container plant.
  2. Mulch of the plant should be removed at the time of fertilizing but should be replaced immediately after that.
  3. The insulin plant grows best when placed in an area that gets both sun and shade. It needs at least 3 to 4 hours of sunlight.
  4. It is best suited in fertile and moist soil. There should not be water logging and the soil should be well-drained.
  5. The soil of this plant should be kept moist but not soggy. Avoid overwatering.

At-Home Remedies

The home remedies using the insulin plant are typically derived from the plant’s leaves. The fructose that is present in the leaves has been found to help regulate increased blood sugar levels and effectively treat diabetes. The beneficial properties of the insulin plant leaves can be extracted and used for medicinal purposes in the following three ways:

Insulin Plant - remedies

  1. Chew on a raw leaf of the plant.
  2. Dry the leaves and grind them into a powder, then combine the powder with water and drink.
  3. Create a decoction by boiling a few leaves for 10 minutes, straining the mixture, and then drinking the water.

Recommended Dosage

While some sources indicate specific dosage recommendations (i.e., consuming one raw leaf per day, or consuming one tablespoon of powder per day), the appropriate dose of the insulin plant depends on several factors such as the user’s age, state of health, and several other conditions. At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for the insulin plant. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages are important.

The Insulin Plant 5

Be sure to consult your pharmacist, physician, and/or another healthcare professional before using Costus Igneus as herbal medicine.

Precautions and warnings

Certain herbal medicines can interact with other medications that you are using. This may increase the risk of toxicity and/or drug reactions. Before taking herbal medication, always discuss it with your doctor. In addition, certain populations may be at greater risk of negative side effects from using the insulin plant as an herbal medication.

The Insulin Plant 3

It is important to check with your healthcare provider before taking insulin plant remedies if you fall into any of the following categories:

-Individuals that use hypoglycemic agents or insulin for diabetes management

-Have any known allergies to medications, foods, and/or substances

-Have any known health problems, such as liver or kidney damage

-Are pregnant or breastfeeding

-Have an allergy to ragweed and related plants: C. igneus may cause an allergic reaction in individuals that are allergic to the Asteraceae/Compositae plant family, which include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many other plants.

Aristolochic Acid Warning

Insulin plant oil, root powder, raw leaf, leaf powder, or tincture is likely safe for most people when taken by mouth in amounts found in foods. However, insulin plant often contains aristolochic acid, a contaminant that can cause damage to the kidneys. Insulin plant products that contain aristolochic acid are UNSAFE. Under the law, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can confiscate any plant product that is believed to contain aristolochic acid.

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  • john Posted April 7, 2022 10:05 AM

    No where in the article did I see the proper name of the plant.

    • Niccole Posted April 7, 2022 10:21 AM

      At the beginning of the article it states the name, Indian Plant, or Costus Igneus.

    • CC Posted April 7, 2022 10:32 AM

      What is the proper name?

      • Cheryl Schriver Posted April 7, 2022 11:14 AM

        Where can I locate this plant in Oregon

    • Kathy Posted April 7, 2022 10:36 AM

      Costus Igneus. Belonging to the family of Costaceae, which consists of nearly 150 species. It is in the first paragraph.

    • Yolene Posted April 7, 2022 10:40 AM

      Costus Igneus, I think is the name

    • Dianne Posted April 7, 2022 10:43 AM

      Costus Igneus, in the first paragrah

    • Donna Crider Posted April 7, 2022 11:01 AM

      Costus igneus, it’s in the last line under Recommended Dosage

    • Rhonda Posted April 7, 2022 11:08 AM

      Costus Igneus

    • Brandon Banker Posted April 8, 2022 6:26 AM

      Costus Igneus

    • D Posted July 21, 2022 11:47 AM

      Up at the top in the first paragraph it told the name. Costus Igneus,

    • Tina Posted January 1, 2023 7:01 PM

      You need to click on the link…
      Chamaecostus cuspidatus, common name fiery costus or spiral flag, is a species of herbaceous plant in the family Costaceae native to eastern Brazil (States of Bahia and Espirito Santo).[1][2][3] In India, it is known as insulin plant for its purported anti-diabetic properties.[4][5]

  • Gerdus Bothma Posted April 7, 2022 10:28 AM

    Which of the varients contains aristolochic acid and which does not contain it? You state that the insulin plant “often” aristolochic acid, is this because of a generic defect; impromptu development during the growing phase? Is it only possible to determine this with a lab test?

  • Yargew Posted April 7, 2022 10:54 AM

    Can you recommend a lab that can test for aristolochic acid? Can you quantify wht percentage of plants contain it? Is it caused by malnutrition of the plant?

    The plant sounds tantalizing, but “often” risking my kidneys and developing cancer are a mite off-putting.


  • Michael Evans Posted April 7, 2022 11:57 AM

    Can you send me something on prostrate cancer??

  • J Posted April 7, 2022 12:06 PM

    Nature’s Costus Igneus Shield

    Live Plant Cuttings – Insulin Plant

    1 Live Insulin Plant Bulb

  • Lisa Posted April 7, 2022 2:15 PM

    This is very interesting. It is possible to find capsules, while i’m hunting for the plant. I already have Moringa and use 1+teas (air dried) a day, think I’d like to add this to the mix. Thank you for so much information. Many Blessings.

  • Pauline Posted April 7, 2022 6:58 PM

    So how do I know whether an insulin plant actually DOES or DOES NOT contain aristolochic acid?

  • Naomi Gobits Posted April 7, 2022 8:00 PM

    I live in Australia were can I buy this ???

  • Leo Posted April 7, 2022 8:33 PM

    Ditto on where I can I find this in Oregon. I would like to be able to purchase the leaves to grind myself and encapsulate.

    • Char Posted July 25, 2022 5:21 PM

      Etsy. I purchased 6 plants and they are doing well!

  • Gerald George Posted April 8, 2022 10:42 AM

    great article especially for a diabetic that has farming as a hobby and has the space and time

  • Noreen Posted April 8, 2022 12:13 PM

    Regarding the aristolochic acid, how do we know if the plant is making this? Are there species in this family which don’t have it? I could not find a reply to the questions posed above on this.

  • Alan Posted April 10, 2022 7:51 PM

    Is the insulin plant also safe for TYPE 1 diabetes? For which most people are insulin dependent, and the pancreas cells are permanently damaged?

  • Pauline Posted April 11, 2022 10:20 PM

    I have looked both in my regular nurseries where I source unusual or uncommon plants, but can’t find this one anywhere. I am in Australia, so can’t go to either Etsy or Amazon for the plant as our quarantine laws are (rightfully) very strict. Anyone know where in Australia I could source these plants?

  • K Posted April 17, 2022 11:07 AM

    Regarding the aristolochic acid
    I guess because of the multiple requests for information about aristolochic acid & all of the replies saying purchase supplements from a reputable company & NEVER actually addressing the question of “HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR PLANT THAT YOU’RE GROWING AT HOME IS CONTAMINATED OR NOT OR WHAT VARIETY IS SAFE”, you have to determine, there is no way to tell if the plant you’re growing at home is toxic or not, you just have to try it & if you start seeing signs of cancer or kidney failure, stop using it. That’s all I can gather from all the questions & answers I have read. I was very interested in this plant until discovering this.

  • Susan Posted April 18, 2022 1:21 AM

    Clarification is still needed on the aristolochic acid. Please do not give the same automated reply to the aristolochic acid questions. The article says the plants can have aristolochic acid. But the reply refers to purchased products maybe containing aristolochic acid. May we please hear from Nicole who will clarify for us. Please not another repeat of the same unhelpful reply. Thank you

  • Lisa Posted July 3, 2022 8:10 PM

    I mentioned Cortisolic acid. That is found in Costus Igneus, also called the Insulin Plant. I just finished 60 days. I’m still tapering to the “maintenance” one dose a day. I purchased the capsules from a company in Texas, pills made in an FDA facility. I expect to buy the plant in the fall. I’ll grow then process my own. I used the capsules to be sure they will work for me.
    Another plant whose leaves also produce Cortisolic acid is the Mango tree. Expect to plant that this fall. Look up both plants on the internet, check the facts, I did. BTW, The Insulin Plant is used in the Ayurvedic system and has been known in India for hundreds of years.

  • Karen Goodwin Posted November 25, 2022 7:10 PM

    I live in Queensland Australia and I would like know where I can purchase a Costus Igneus here in Australia or am I able to purchase it from America?

  • Vadelia Posted January 22, 2023 10:27 PM

    I live in New Zealand where can I buy this plant.

  • Vadelia Posted January 22, 2023 10:42 PM

    New Zealand laws security do not allow foreign plants into the country. Is there a New Zealand plant that has the simular or same nutrients. Or where can I source this in New Zealand.

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