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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 synonym 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.
SIDDHA: Kostum.
TAMIL: Neyccarikamaram, Venkal-c-ciray, Kostam, Kostum.
URDU: Bijasar, Bam al akhwain.
OTHERS: Kostum (Siddha). Sumbul chi khat.

Gen info
- The family Costaceae consists of four genera and about 200 species. The genus Costus is the largest in the family, with about 150 species of mainly tropical distribution. (14)
- The plant is related to the gingers and was once part of the Zingiberaceae family. However, the Costus species and kin have been reclassified in its own family, Costaceae. (18)

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 for medicinal use.
- Ornamental cultivation.

- Leaves are rich in protein, iron, ad antioxidant components such as ascorbic acid, α-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), α-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), α-terpinol (4.44). (14)

- Studies have suggest antimicrobial, antidiabetic, antiproliferative,antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective properties.

Parts used
Leaves, roots.


- Flowers are edible, sweet.
- In the Philippines, becoming increasingly popular as an antidiabetic herbal medicine.
- 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)
- Leaves consumed as fresh, dried and powder leaf forms.
- In Mizoram, India, decoction of leaves and roots used to reduce blood sugar. (22)
- In west Sikkim, India, leaves used for treatment of diabetes, skin diseases, asthma, bronchitis, fever, and intestinal worm disease. (26)
- In Mexico, infusion of aerial parts used for treatment of renal disorders. (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 antihyperglycemic 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)
• Antidiabetic / Antioxidant / Antimicrobial / Leaves: Study of an aqueous leaf extract of C. cuspidatus showed antidiabetic against streptozotocin induced diabetic mice. Antioxidant activity was evaluated using DPPH, superoxide anion scavenging activity, hydroxyl radical scavenging activity and reducing power assays. Antibacterial activity was tested against S. aureus, B. subtilis, E. coli and antifungal activity against A. flavus and C. albicans. (16)
• Gold Nanoparticles / Antidiabetic / Leaves: Study reports on the green synthesis of gold nanoparticles using insulin plant Chamaecostus cuspidatus leaf powder extract. The gold nanoparticles exhibited 50% inhibition of free radicals. Treatment of diabetic mice with the gold nanoparticles restored blood glucose, glycogen, and insulin level. (17)
• Toxicity Studies: Acute oral toxicity studies of aqueous extract of C. pictus at various doses from 5, 10, 20, and 40 g/kg body weight. None of the extract doses produced mortality or any behavioral disorders. Administration of 1 g/kbw per day for 30 days, likewise, produced no mortality or behavioral effects. An ethanolic extract of leaves from 50 mg/kbw up to 5000 mg/kbw showed no mortality or significant toxicity. (15)
• Antihyperglycemic / Insulin Plant Leaves and Curcuma longa Rhizome: Study evaluated the antihyperglycemic activity of insulin plant leaves and unprocessed rhizome of Handra (Curcuma longa) in rabbits with diabetes induced by dexamethasone, Results showed extremely significant(p=0.0001 decrease in blood glucose levels in both groups. Unprocessed harida showed significant )p=0.0109) decrease in blood glucose level as compared to insulin plant leaves. (18)
• Antifungal / Saponins / Rhizomes: Study evaluated the antifungal activity of crude ethanol extracts of leaves, stems, and rhizomes of Chamaecostus cuspidatus against Candida and Trichophyton species. Only the rhizomes showed antifungal activity and had no activity against bacteria (S. aureus and E. coli). The hexane fraction from the rhizome extract showed the best antifungal effect. Three known saponins were isolated from the fraction, of which two (dioscin and aferoside A) showed good antifungal activity. Fungicidal activity caused significant changes in the morphology of the fungal cells and showed anti-Candida albicans biofilm activity. (20)
• Hypoglycemic Action of Insulin-Like Protein / Toxicity Study: An earlier study reported an orally active insulin-like protein from Costus igneus with potent hypoglycemmic effect in STZ-induced diabetic Swiss mice. This study elucidated the hypoglycemic mechanism of the ILP. Results showed the orally active ILP acts via an insulin signaling pathway. The ILP did not show toxicity in normal and diabetic Swiss mice. (21)
• Antimicrobial / Steroid / Stem: Study of ethanol extract of Costus igneus stem isolated a steroid compound. The compound was tested for antimicrobial activity against S. aureus, E. coli, and C. albicans. Results showed good antibacterial and antifungal activity. (23)
• Comparative Hypoglycemic and Hypolipidemic Activity: Study compared the therapeutic effects of C. igneus methanolic and aqueous extracts against hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia in alloxan induced diabetic rats. The methanol extract exhibited higher activity than the aqueous extract. (24)
• Silver Nanoparticles / Antimicrobial / Leaves: Study reports on the synthesis of antibacterial nanoparticles using a leaf broth of Costus igneus. The silver nanoparticles showed enhanced antibacterial activity against well known pathogenic strains viz. Streptococcus sp., Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus sp., Proteus sp., as well as fungi Penicillium sp., Mucor sp., Candida albicans, Aspergillus sp. (25)
• Chlorogenic Acid Mediated Silver Nanoparticles / Free Radical Scavenging / Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of chlorogenic acid medicated silver nanoparticles. Results showed significant anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidation activity of chlorogenic mediated AgNPs. which proportionately increased with increasing concentration. (27)
• Hypoglycemic Carbon Dots: Study evaluated the hypoglycemic bioactivity of novel eco-friendly carbon dots derived from Costus igneus. The carbon dots were synthesized from by a simple hydrothermal treatment at relatively low temperature. The carbon dots inhibited alpha-amylase in a concentration dependent manner, suggesting C. igneus has antidiabetic property. (28)

- Cultivated.
- Increasing availability in herbal gardens.
- Powdered leaves, rhizomes, capsules in the cybermarket.

© Godofredo U. Stuart Jr., M.D. / StuartXchange

Updated Jan 2021 / Dec 2018 / Jul 2018 / Jan 2018
November 2017

                                                  PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
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 2010, 3(3): pp 608-611 ISSN: 0974-6943
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), December 2014; Vol 4, Issue 4 / ISSN: 2319-1058
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 nanoparticals, 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
CHAMAECOSTUS CUSPIDATUS – A SHORT REVIEW ON ANTI DIABETIC PLANT / A. Naga Jyothi, E. Priyanka, D. Eswar Tony, Rama Rao Nadendla /  IAJPS 2015, 2 (7): pp 1110-1113
In Vivo Antidiabetic and In Vitro Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity of Aqueous Leaves Extract of Chamaecostus cuspidatus / Mohemedibrahim Ponnanikajamideen, Rajeshkumar Shanmugam, and Annadurai Gurusamy / Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology 9(8), Aug 2016 / DOI: 10.5958/0974-360X.2016.00230
In-Vivo Anti-Diabetic and Wound Healing Effect of Antioxidant Gold Nanoparticles Synthesized Using Insulin Plant (Chamaecostus Cuspidatus) / M. Ponnanikajamideen, S Rajeshkumar, M Vanaja, G Annadurai / Canadian Journal of Diabetes / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjd.2018.05.006
Anti-hyperglycemic activity of Insulin plant leaves (Chamaecostus cuspidatus Nees & Mart/ CD Specht & D W Ste) and unprocessed Harida rhizome (Curcuma longa L.) / Meena Shamrao Deogade, Niteen Ambatkar, Bhushan Ambatkar / Journal of Indian System of Medicine, 2017; 5(3): pp 203-207
Chamaecostus cuspidatus / Wikipedia
Antifungal activity of extracts and purified saponins from the rhizomes of Chamaecostus cuspidatus against Candida and Trichophyton species / B Barros Cota, D Batista Carneiro de Oliveira, T Carla Borges et al / Journal of Applied Microbiology, Jan 2021; 130(1): pp 61-75 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jam.14783
Elucidation of hypoglycemic action and toxicity studies of insulin-like protein from Costus igneus / Manasi R Hardikar, Mokshada E Varma, Anjali A Kulkarni, Prasad P Kulkarni, Bimba N Joshi / Phytochemistry, April 2016; Vol 124: pp 99-107 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phytochem.2016.02.001
Commonly used medicinal plants in N. Mualcheng, Mizoram, India / Lalbiakngheti, Lucy Lalawmpuii / Science Vsion, 31 Dec 2020, 20(4): pp 156161 / DOI: https://doi.org/10.33493/sci.vis.20.04.03
Isolation and biological evaluation of steroid from stem of Costus igneus / R Saraswathi, Upadhyay Lokesh, R Venkatakrishna, R Meera, P Devi / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 2010; 2(5): pp 444-448 / ISSN: 0975-7384
Comparative evaluation of extracts of C. igneus (or . pictus) doe hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic activity in alloxan diabetic rats / Panagal Mani, R A Kumar, T M Bastin, S Jennifer, Muthuvel Arumugam / International Journal of Pharmacy and Technology, 2010; 2(1): pp 183-195 / ISSN: 0975-766X
Antimicrobial activity of silver nanoparticles synthesized by using Costus igneus / S Vasantharaj, S Sathiyavimal, N Hemashenpagam / Research Journal of Pharmaceutical, Biological, and Chemical Sciencrs, 2013; 4(2): pp 733-738 / ISSN: 0975-8585
Ethnobotanical survey of threatened medicinal plants of West Sikkim / Mahendra Tamang, Krishan Pal, Santosh KUmar Rai, Abul Kalam, S Rehan Ahmad / International Journal of Botany Studies, Sept 2017; 2(6): pp 116-125 / ISSN: 2455-541X
Free Radical Scavenging and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Chlorogenic Acid Mediated Silver Nanoparticle / Anu Iswarya Jaisankar, Lakshminarayanan Arivarasu / Journal of Pharmaceutical Research International, 2020; 32(19) / DOI: https://doi.org/10.9734/jpri/2020/v32i1930715
Hypoglycemic bioactivity of novel eco-friendly carbon dots derived from traditional Costus igneus / A Niveditha, A Sankari, V Priya, V Vishnu. R Gayathri / Drug Invention Today, Sept 2019; 12(9): pp 2045-2047

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants

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