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J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Jan 21;121(2):248-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.10.025. Epub 2008 Nov 5.

Costus spicatus tea failed to improve diabetic progression in C57BLKS/J db/db mice, a model of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Lehman College and The Graduate Center, The City University of New York, Bronx, NY 10468, USA.



Costus spicatus Sw. (Costaceae) is a prominent medicinal herb used by Dominicans in the Dominican Republic and the United States for the treatment of diabetes, a growing epidemic in the Hispanic community. An ethnobotanical survey of the Dominican community in New York City revealed the popular use of a tea from the insulina plant to treat hyperglycemia. Insulina was identified as Costus spicatus. We tested the ability of a tea made from the leaves of Costus spicatus to alter glucose homeostasis in C57BLKS/J (KS) db/db mice, a model of obesity-induced hyperglycemia with progressive beta cell depletion.


From 6 to 16 weeks of age, Experimental and Control animals (n=6/5) were given ad lib access to Costus spicatus tea or water, respectively.


Weight gain and progression of hyperglycemia and insulinopenia between the Experimental and Control groups were statistically indistinguishable. There was no difference between groups in average fed or fasting glucose and insulin concentrations. Intraperitoneal (IP) insulin tolerance testing after the 10-week study period showed that Costus spicatus tea consumption did not alter insulin sensitivity.


These data suggest that at the dose given, tea made from Costus spicatus leaves had no efficacy in the treatment of obesity-induced hyperglycemia. More investigation is needed to more fully explore dosages and the possible utility and biological activity of this common Dominican herbal remedy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

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