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Family Costaceae
Insulin plant
Chamaecostus cuspidatus (Nees. & Martin( C.D Specht & D.W. Stev.

Scientific names Common names
Chamaecostus cuspidatus (Nees & Mart.) C.D.Specht & D.W.Stev. Fiery costus (Engl.)
Costus cuspidatus (Nees & Mart.) Maas Insulin plant (Engl.)
Costus igneus N.E.Br. Spiral flag (Engl.)
Globba cuspidata Nees & Mart.  
Costus igneus N.E.Br. is a synonyms of Chamaecostus cuspidatuss (Nees & Mart.) C. Specht & D.W.Stev. The Plant List
Chamaecostus cuspidatus (Nees & Mart.) C.Specht & D.W.Stev. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
BENGALI: Piasal..
HINDI: BAanda, Bija-sal, Peisar, Jarul, Keukand.
GUJARATI: Pakarmula.
KANNADA: Kemou honne.
MALAYALAM: Honne, Karintakara, Vengai, Venna-maram.
MARATHI: Honi, Pushkarmula.
ODISHA: Vengis.
SANSKRIT: Asana, Bandhukapushpa.
TAMIL: Neyccarikamaram, Venkal-c-ciray, Kostam.
URDU: Bijasar, Bam al akhwain.
OTHERS: Kostum (Siddha).

Costus igneus is a perennial, upright, spreading plant growing to a height of 2 feet, with the tallest stems falling and lying on the ground. Leaves are simple, alternate, entire, oblong, 4-8 inches long with parallel venation, spirally arranged around the stems. Large, fleshy, smooth, and dark green leaves have a light purple underside. Flowers are orange, 1.5 inches in diameter, on cone-like head at the tips of branches. Fruits are green colored, less than 0.5 inch.

- Introduced.
- Native to South and Central America.
- Widely cultivated in India.

- Leaves are rich in protein, iron, ad antioxidant components such as ascorbic acid, a-tocopherol, ß-carotene, terpenoids, steroids, and flavonoids.
- Ethanol extract of leaves yielded tannins, phlobatannins, saponin, flavonoids, terpenoids, and cardiac glycosides. (9)

- Study for essential oil yielded the following major constituents in %: (Stem) hexadecanoic acid (28.3), 9,12-octadecadienoic acid (18.33), dodecanoic acid (5.62), linalyl propanoate (6.03), tetradecanoic acid (4.82), A-eudesmol (3.55), y-eudesmost (3.21) 4-ethoxy phenol (3.06); (Leaf) hexadecanoic acid (24.51), 2.pentanol (22.41), dodecanoic acid (3.96), ß-ionone (8.69), farnesyl acetone (7.04), a-ionone (8.01; (Rhizome) hexadecanoic acid (25.26), 9,12-octadecadienoic acid (7.74), dodecanoic acid (16.56), tetradecanoic acid (10.20), linalool (8.48), a-terpinol (4.44). (14)

- Studies have suggest antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antiproliferative, hepatoprotective properties.

Parts used


- In Siddha medicine, used for diabetes; leaves chewed twice daily, or dried powder of leaves taken 1/2 to 1 gram twice daily.
- Used by tribal people of Kolli hills of Tamilnadu for diabetes. (14)

Anti-Hyperglycemic / Dexamethasone Induced Hyperglycemia / Leaves:
Study evaluated the effect of Costus igneus leaves on dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia in male Wistar rats showed reduction in fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels. 250 mg and 500 mg/kg/day of powdered leaves was comparable to Glibenclamide 500. (3)
• Antidiabetic / Acute Oral Toxicity Study / Leaves: Study evaluated the antidiabetic activity of C. igneus in alloxan induced diabetic albino rats. The ethanolic extract showed significant (p<0.001) antidiabetic activity. (4)
• Effect of Prediabetes and Diabetes in Neonatal STZ Rats: Study evaluated the effect of pre-treatment and post-treatment with isolated fraction of C. igneus on prediabetes and diabetes in neonatal streptozotocin induced T2DM. Treatment with CIF is beneficial in diabetic rats and can reduce the changes of progression of pre-diabetes into T2DM. Effect may be due to increase in peripheral utilization of glucose and insulin mimetic effect. (5)
• Acute Oral Toxicity Study: Acute oral toxicity studies of CIF fraction of chloroform extract showed no abnormal or toxic symptoms in mice treated with 5, 50, 500, 2000 mg/kg. LD 50 value is above 2 g/kg.  (5)
• Anti-Proliferative / Apoptotic / Leaves: Study evaluated the anti-proliferative and apoptotic potential of ME of Costus igneus on in vitro MCF-7 Breast cancer cell line. Results showed reduction of tumor size without affecting the normal cells. (6)
• Antidiabetic / Hypolipidemic / Rhizomes: Study evaluated the antihyperglyceic and hypolipidemic activities of methanol extract of rhizomes in STZ induced diabetic albino rats. Results showed significant (p<0.05) decrease in FBS, TC, TG, LDL, and VLDL levels, with significant (p<0.05) increase in HDL levels. (7)
• Antimicrobial / Rhizome: Study evaluated the rhizome extract of three Costus species (C. speciosus, C. pictus, and C. igneus) for antimicrobial activity. The rhizome extract of the three species inhibited the growth of all the test fungi. The C. igneus extract showed higher activity against S. aureus, followed by P. aeruginosa, E. coli, and B subtilis. (8)
• Amylase Inhibitory Activity / Leaves: Study evaluated the amylase inhibitory activity of methanol leaf extract of C. igneus by Chromogenic DNSA assay. The extract showed dose dependent α-amylase inhibition of 65.48, 35.72, and 3.57% at 500, 250, and 100 µg concentration. (10)
• Silver Nanoparticles / Antidiabetic: Study reports on the simple and cost-effective synthesis of silver nanoparticles using C. igneus extract. The C. igneus mediated nanoparticles showed high antidiabetic activity and maximum amylase inhibition concentration of 87% at 100 µg. The AgNPs showed good antidiabetic activity than the plant extracts. (11)
• Hepatoprotectiive / Paracetamol Induced Liver Damage: Study evaluated the hepatoprotective activity of C. igneus in paracetamol induced hepatic damage. Administration of C. igneus extract prior to acetaminophen effectively (p<0.05) prevented the induction of damage by acetaminophen. The 400 mg/kg dose of C. igneus was comparable to the standard drug silymarin. (12)
• Potential Anticancer Source: Study evaluated the cytotoxicity activities of crude ethanolic extracts from Chaemaecostus subsessilis and C. cuspidatus and six fractions against a panel of six human cancer cell lineages (HL60, Jurkat, MDA-MB231, MCF-7, HCT, THP-1). Cytotoxic effects in the HL60, Jurkat and THP-1 lineages were mediated via an apoptotic mechanism. (13)

- Cultivated.
- Powdered leaves in the cybermarket.

© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D.

November 2017

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Kostum-Herbal Remedy for Diabetes / Siddham

Chamaecostus cuspidatus (Nees & Mart.) / Synonyms / The Plant List
Effect of the insulin plant (Costus igneus) leaves on dexamethasone-induced hyperglycemia / Akhila J Shetty, Divya Choudhury, Rejeesh, Vinod Nair, Maria Kuruvilla, and  Shashidhar Kotian / Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010 Apr-Jun; 1(2): 100–102. / doi:  10.4103/0974-7788.64396
Antidiabetic activity of insulin plant (Costus igneus) leaf extract in diabetic rats / Bhat Vishnu, Asuti Naveen,Kamat Akshay, Patil M B /
Journal of Pharmacy Research 201s0, 3(3),608-611
Effect of Costus igneus: The insulin plant, on prediabetes and diabetes in neonatal streptozotocin rats
/ Murthy EGK Talasila, Hemalatha Bavirisetti, Jithendra Chimakurthy, Mayuren Candasamy / Journal of Health Sciences, Vol 4, No 3 (2014) / DOI: https://doi.org/10.17532/jhsci.2014.163
In Vitro Anti-Proliferative Potential of Leaves of Costus Igneus / Prof. S. Dhanasekaran, M. Akshaya, S. Preethi / International Journal of Innovations in Engineering and Technology (IJIET) Vol 4, Issue 4, December 2014
Efficacy of Methanolic Extract of Costus Igneus Rhizome on Hypoglycemic, Hypolipidimic Activity in Streptozotocin (STZ) Diabetic Rats and HPTLC Analysis of Its Active Constituents / Pazhanichamy Kalailingam, Rajendran and Eevera Tamilmani / 2011 International Conference on Bioscience, Biochemistry and Bioinformatics IPCBEE Vol 5 (2011)
Evaluation of antibacterial activity in three species of Costus / G.Sulakshana*, A. Sabitha Rani and B.Saidulu / Int. J. Curr. Microbiol. App. Sci (2013) 2(10): pp 26-30
Pharmacognostical and Phytochemical study of Costus igneus NE Br leaf / Meena S. Deogade , Anita Wanjari, Seema C. Lohakare / J-ISM, V2 (4), Oct-Dec 2014, pp 174-178
AMYLASE INHIBITORY ACTIVITY OF COSTUS IGNEUS LEAF EXTRACT / ND Satyanarayan *, Mohammedsiraj Mirji, Anantacharya and Sanjeevkumar Giri / International Research Journal of Pharmaceutical and Applied Sciences, Vol 5, Issue 1, 2015 / pp 12-15
Bio synthesis, characterization and activity studies of Ag nano- particals, by (Costus ingneus) insulin plant extract / Sanjeevaraddi R Sataraddi, Sharanappa T Nandibewoor* / Der Pharmacia Lettre, 2012, 4 (1):152-158
Hepatoprotective activity of Costus igneus against Paracetamol induced liver damage / Nimmy Chacko* and CS Shastry / International Journal of Advances in Pharmacy, Biology and Chemistry, IJAPBC, Vol. 1(2), Apr- Jun 2012
Chamaecostus subsessilis and Chamaecostus cuspidatus (NNees & Mart)) C..SSpecht and D..WW..SStev as Potential Sources of Anticancer Agents / Ezequias Pessoa de Siqueira, Jonas Pereira Ramos, Carlos Leomar Zani, Albina Carvalho de Oliveira Nogueira, David Lee Nelson, Elaine Maria de Souza-Fagundes and Betania Barros Cota / Natural Products Chemistry & Research (2016), 4(2) / DOI: 10.4172//22329--66836.1000204
A review on Insulin plant (Costus igneus Nak) / Prakash K. Hegde, Harini A. Rao, and  Prasanna N. Rao / Pharmacogn Rev. 2014 Jan-Jun; 8(15): 67–72. /doi:  10.4103/0973-7847.125536

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