Cryptolepis: Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects

Cryptolepis and Cryptolepis benefits

Cryptolepis is a medicinal shrub that has historically been used in African traditional medicine for centuries. It is said to be helpful in a variety of health conditions. The most common cryptolepis benefits seem to come from its exceptional antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and hypoglycemic properties. Curious to know more about this herb? Continue reading till the end.

Ahead, we’ll discuss some of the most common health benefits of cryptolepis along with possible dosage, cryptolepis side effects, and more. But before we get into how cryptolepis can help with human health, it’s important to know the basics of this herb a little bit more. So, let’s get started.

What is cryptolepis?

Cryptolepis, also popularly called kadze, nimiba, gangamau, and botanically Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, is a scrambling medicinal herb native to West and Central Africa. It is usually found in tropical mountainous regions, rainforests, and tickly wooded areas. It has a thin-stemmed vine-like appearance with yellow flowers, hence fondly called the flowering healer. The root of the plant is yellow, which is why it is often called the yellow-dye root herb.

Various parts of the plant, including roots, leaves, and stems have historically been used in African traditional medicine for centuries, especially to help people fight against microbes and their associated infective conditions. Today, cryptolepis, and its active compounds are extensively being studied over the last few decades in order to understand their full potential. Although many benefits are yet to come, research findings so far are promising. Let’s have a look at what active compounds it contains:

Active compounds in cryptolepis 

The health benefits of cryptolepis appear to come from the biologically active compounds it contains, particularly cryptolepine, a plant chemical with several medicinal activities.

Common types of active compounds found in cryptolepis include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Alkaloids 
  • Flavones
  • Tannins 
  • Chloroform 
  • Anthocynosides
  • Polyuronides 

The active compounds found in cryptolepis contribute to the plant’s medicinal value by demonstrating several pharmacological effects including antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, as well as others in modern research studies.

Crytpolepis benefits

Cryptolepis and its biologically active compounds, cryptolepine in particular, may help human health in many different ways. It has several pharmacological properties that may help the body prevent and manage various conditions and support other organs and bodily systems to perform optimally. Let’s take a look at some fantastic benefits of cryptolepis:

Cryptolepis provides antimicrobial benefits 

Cryptolepis is best known for its incredible ability to help fight against microbes. This is the reason why this herb has historically been used to control malaria in different African countries for centuries, according to “Herbs and Spices” [1].

A decent amount of modern scientific studies have also backed this traditional use of cryptolepis. For example, in a 2010 human clinical trial of Ghana Medical Journal, 44 patients with uncomplicated malaria were supplemented with cryptolepis root tea thrice daily. Within 3 days, 50% of the study patients were cleared of the parasite, and all patients only by 7 days [2]. 

Cryptolepis may help manage inflammations

Plant chemicals found in cryptolepis, especially cryptolepine, have been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory properties. It can help block and modulate inflammatory pathways and thereby, may help reduce and keep inflammation levels in check.

A 2013 study in Evidenced-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine has shown that cryptolepine is effective in inhibiting the production of inflammatory components and balancing inflammation levels in the resident immune cells of the CNS (central nervous system) called microglia [3].

Cryptolepis may help balance sugar levels

Studies suggest that cryptolepis and the active compounds it holds have the capacity to favorably impact the absorption of glucose in the digestive tract, which in turn can help keep sugar levels at a healthy level.

A 2012 animal study in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism showed that cryptolepis has significant hypoglycemic actions due to its capacity to lower glucose absorption and transport [4].

Cryptolepis may support a healthy immune response

In multiple in vitro studies, cryptolepis has been found to be effective in modulating immune responses that can help prevent diverse medical conditions. Research suggests that phytochemical compounds in cryptolepis have the potential to inhibit DNA synthesis and may act as a potential immunotherapeutic agent to prevent and manage various related conditions [5] [6].

How to use and cryptolepis dosage 

Cryptolepis works well both alone or in combination with other herbs. For therapeutic uses, cryptolepis is available in tincture and powdered capsule forms. Dosages vary from person to person depending on personal health status and associated needs.

In general, cryptolepis is mostly consumed as a tincture with a dosage of 1 to 2 ml that can be taken twice or thrice a day. For capsules, it seems to be safe up to 20 capsules a day. Consider working with your healthcare provider to determine your best possible dosage.

Cryptolepis side effects and precautions

Though there are no reported serious adverse effects of cryptolepis so far, women who are pregnant, nursing, or trying to conceive should avoid its use. Besides, even though there are no known interactions of cryptolepis with other herbs and medications, it’s always best to check with a qualified naturopath or herbalist before starting cryptolepis or any herbs, especially if you’re taking any medications for any purpose.

Final words

Cryptolepis is an ancient medicinal shrub that has traditionally been used in African medicine for centuries, especially to manage and prevent infections caused by microbes. It contains plant chemicals that demonstrate several pharmacological properties including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, hepatoprotective, and hypoglycemic, just to name a few.

Cryptolepis benefits include assistance to many bodily organs, systems, and health conditions. Research suggests that it can hugely help with infections, inflammations, immunity, and blood sugar balance. Consider checking with a qualified natural medicine practitioner to determine whether it’s right for you and what method of use would be the best for your personal health needs.

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