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Cissus quadrangularis

Cissus quadrangularis is a traditional medicine for joint and bone health (as well as various feminine disorders and menopause), and shows promise in promoting bone growth rates. It is popular as a joint aid for athletes, with preliminary evidence supporting this property of cissus.

Our evidence-based analysis on cissus quadrangularis features 61 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Cissus quadrangularis

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Cissus quadrangularis is a traditional medicine usually said to come from Ayurveda but appears to have a wide range of locations which have used it medicinally due to it growing in numerous locations. Its traditional usages are mostly catered around treating feminine disorders (menopause, libido, and menstrual disorders) or treating bones (increasing bone mass or accelerating fracture healing rates) which gives it the traditional name of the 'Bone Setter'; some other traditional usages are in regards to its supposed antiulcer properties, antihemhorroid properties, and pain relieving properties.

It is most frequently used by athletes, and the anecdotes of cissus seem to precede much of the science on the topic. It appears to be a very effective pain killer in rodent studies, but at this moment in time only one preliminary study has been conducted in humans; while it showed promise in athletes who experienced joint pain due to exercise (by reducing overall joint symptoms by about a third) it was still a lone study. More research is needed, but it seems promising as an alterative for joint pain in athletes since most joint health supplements do not have evidence in athletes (rather, most research is in osteoarthritis persons).

Although a potential complication in athletes is that preliminary rodent evidence suggests that cissus has sedative and muscle relaxing properties at high doses (active within 30 minutes of ingestion), suggesting that it might not make the best pre-workout supplement.

In regards to bone health, there are limited human reports of increased fracture healing rate which are poor quality of evidence due to not disclosing adequate methodology (ie. how they did the study) and not disclosing the source of the compound. Animal studies do show a great deal of promise in promoting bone growth, but this traditional claim also needs to be assessed in greater detail.

Finally, there are two human studies which suggest that cissus can be used as a fat loss agent but they have problems with their structure. In particular both studies are confounded with possible financial biases and since the supplements were consumed before meals with water (and cissus is known to have gum forming properties) while food intake was not measured making it wholly possible the observed effects could be due to reduced food intake, which is what happens when a gum (glucomannan, for example) is taken before a meal with water.

Overall, cissus has a good deal of promise in regards to joint and bone health in regards to athletic adults and menopausal women alike but requires a great deal more evidence to fully evaulate this promise.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

The one study to note benefit with oral supplementation in humans (for the purpose of reducing joint pain) has used 3,200mg of cissus quadrangularis as a daily supplement, which is also in the range for what animal studies suggest sedative and pain killing effects should occur with the water extract.

Elsewhere, 300-600mg of a cissus quadrangularis extract standardized to 2.5% ketosteroids has shown biological activity in humans.

Either of the two aforementioned doses should work (former probably more relevant for athletes), but the optimal dose is not known as this moment in time.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Cissus quadrangularis has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-c Notable - See study
Increase in plasma serotonin was significant (30-39%) and fairly noteworthy, deserves more research.
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in creatinine has been noted alongside weight loss; practical significance of this information is not known.
grade-c Minor - See study
A minor reduction in lipid peroxidation has been seen in serum associated with weight loss; uncertain significance.
grade-c Minor - See study
Reductions in total cholesterol not overly remarkable relative to placebo and confounded with weight loss which occurred with cissus
grade-c Minor - See study
Reduction in triglycerides is not overly potent and occurred alongside weight loss, which was likely a confounding factor.
grade-c Minor - See study
There may be a small weight loss associated with 300mg cissus (2.5% ketosteroids) which was seen alongside a reduction in appetite in obese persons; no known direct fat burning properties.
grade-c - - See study
Although some traditional usage of the herb suggests otherwise, limited (accessible) human data does not support a role for cissus in the treatment of hemhorroids
grade-d Notable - See study
An increase in the function of the joint appears to occur alongside reductions in perceived pain and soreness when cissus treats athletic joint pain; one of the few options that sees to benefit athletes.
grade-d Notable - See study
Joint pain appears to be reduced following supplementation of cissus, and while the magnitude is not remarkable (respectable, but comparable to other supplements) it seems to be one of the few validated in athletes with nonpathological joint pain.
grade-d - - See study
In otherwise healthy athletic men, there is no significant influence of supplementation over eight weeks on blood pressure.
grade-d - - See study
More evidence is required, as the one study noting that cissus was ineffective in isolation noted that combination therapy with cissus and calcium was quite effective. There may be a role of Cissus, but it currently is not demonstrated
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on heart rate when taken over the course of eight weeks.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Cissus quadrangularis

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Other Functions:

Primary Function:

Also Known As

Harjor, Asthi Shrinkhala, Bone Setter

  • Cissus may have muscle relaxing properties (estimated to occur with 20-40mg/kg of the water extract in humans) active within 30 minutes, suggesting it may not make a good preworkout

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Click here to see all 61 references.