The herb Tinospora cordifolia has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India). It has been used to treat convalescence from severe illness, liver disease, arthritis, urinary problems, eye diseases, cancer, anemia, diabetes, and diarrhea. It is said to help remove toxins from the body, and on this baisis is often added to herbal formulas claimed to improve general health. Both the stem and the root are used medicinally.
According to some herbalists, tinospora has adaptogenic effects, a term that indicates it helps the body adapt to stress. However, there is no meaningful evidence to support this claim. Only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies can prove a treatment effective, and the only such study performed on tinospora tested other effects.
In this study, 75 people with allergic rhinitis (hayfever) were given either tinospora or placebo for 8 weeks.1 According to the investigators, use of tinospora significantly decreased every measured symptom of allergic rhinitis in the majority of participants; in comparison, use of placebo provided almost no benefit at all. These results may sound promising, but they are in fact so excessively dramatic as to raise doubts about the study’s overall validity. It is unusual for so few benefits to be seen in the placebo group of a study on a treatment for allergic rhinitis, and it is nearly as unusual for almost universal benefits to be reported in the treatment group. Independent confirmation will be required to overcome the skepticism raised by these apparently “too good to be true” findings.
Besides anti-allergy effects, weak evidence hints that tinospora may have anti-cancer,2,3 immune stimulating,4 nerve cell protecting,5 anti-diabetic,6-9 cholesterol-lowering,8 and liver-protective10 actions. Tinospora has also shown some promise for decreasing the tissue damage caused by radiation 11-13 , the side effects of some forms of chemotherapy,14 and speeding healing of diabetic foot ulcers.16 However, all these findings are far too preliminary to be relied upon.
Use of tinospora has not been associated with significant side effects. However, comprehensive safety testing has not been conducted. One animal study found evidence that use of tinospora might decrease male fertility.15 Safety for pregnant or nursing women, young children, or individuals with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
1. Badar VA, Thawani VR, Wakode PT, et al. Efficacy of Tinospora cordifolia in allergic rhinitis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;96:445-449.
2. Singh N, Singh SM, Shrivastava P, et al. Effect of Tinospora cordifolia on the antitumor activity of tumor-associated macrophages-derived dendritic cells. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2005;27:1-14.
3. Singh N, Singh SM, Shrivastava P, et al. Immunomodulatory and antitumor actions of medicinal plant Tinosporacordifolia are mediated through activation of tumor-associated macrophages. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2004;26:145-62.
4. Nair PK, Rodriguez S, Ramachandran R, et al. Immune stimulating properties of a novel polysaccharide from the medicinal plant Tinospora cordifolia. Int Immunopharmacol. 2004;4:1645-1659.
5. Rawal AK, Muddeshwar MG, Biswas SK, et al. Rubia cordifolia, Fagonia cretica linn and Tinosporacordifolia exert neuroprotection by modulating the antioxidant system in rat hippocampal slices subjected to oxygen glucose deprivation. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2004;4:11.
6. Stanely P, Prince M, Menon VP, et al. Hypoglycaemic and other related actions of Tinospora cordifolia roots in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2000;70:9-15.
7. Stanely Mainzen Prince P, Menon VP. Antioxidant action of Tinospora cordifolia root extract in alloxan diabetic rats. Phytother Res. 2001;15:213-218.
8. Stanely Mainzen Prince P, Menon VP. Hypoglycaemic and hypolipidaemic action of alcohol extract of Tinospora cordifolia roots in chemical induced diabetes in rats. Phytother Res. 2003;17:410-413.
9. Rathi SS, Grover JK, Vikrant V, et al. Prevention of experimental diabetic cataract by Indian Ayurvedic plant extracts. Phytother Res. 2002;16:774-777.
10. Bishayi B, Roychowdhury S, Ghosh S, et al. Hepatoprotective and immunomodulatory properties of Tinosporacordifolia in CCl4 intoxicated mature albino rats. J Toxicol Sci. 2002;27:139-146.
11. Subramanian M, Chintalwar GJ, Chattopadhyay S, et al. Antioxidant properties of a Tinospora cordifolia polysaccharide against iron-mediated lipid damage and gamma-ray induced protein damage. Redox Rep. 2002;7:137-143.
12. Goel HC, Prasad J, Singh S, et al. Radioprotective potential of an herbal extract of Tinospora cordifolia. JRadiat Res (Tokyo). 2004;45:61-68.
13. Pahadiya S, Sharma J. Alteration of lethal effects of gamma rays in Swiss albino mice by Tinospora cordifolia. Phytother Res. 2003;17:552-554.
14. Mathew S, Kuttan G. Antioxidant activity of Tinospora cordifolia and its usefulness in the amelioration of cyclophosphamide induced toxicity. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 1998;16:407-411.
15. Gupta RS, Sharma A. Antifertility effect of Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) stem extract in male rats. Indian J ExpBiol. 2004;41:885-889.
16. Purandare H, Supe A. Immunomodulatory role of Tinospora cordifolia as an adjuvant in surgical treatment of diabetic foot ulcers: A prospective randomized controlled study. Indian J Med Sci. 2007;61:347-355.
Last reviewed August 2013 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Last Updated: 8/22/2013
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