Update 4/4/20. Have you heard of Cissus (Cissus quadrangularis)? I didn’t, until recently when someone told me they were taking this medicinal herb for arthritis. After I did some digging I found there were a lot of reasons why people were taking Cissus. So, what Id like to do is briefly cover what is Cissus and what the Cissus research seems to be showing so that you can make a more informed decision about whether this herb is right for you. Cissus quadrangularis is actually a vine that grows in various areas of Asia and Africa. It has several ingredients such as vitamin C, quercetin, which are antioxidants.
In the US its often called cissus or cissus quadrangularis (pronounced “sis-sus quad-drang-u-lair-us”). Like most herbal supplements, it has many other names. A few others include you might also see include:
- Winged Treebine
What Does The Research Say?
Let's look at the evidence for the supplement. To make this easier the reasons people would take this supplement are broken down into different sections.
Cissus And Arthritis
But what about people?
One study noted that the supplement reduced joint pain in men who exercised regularly. In this study, 29 healthy men (29-46 years of age) who regularly exercised strenuously, said they had chronic joint pain. They were given 300 mg for 8 weeks. After the study, the men said they had less joint pain.
There was no placebo group. Another issue was that it doesn't appear that the researchers actually checked to see if the men actually had arthritis. Just saying you have “joint pain” may or may not mean you have arthritis. I also noticed the study only included men. What about women?
See the glucosamine review for more on that supplement.
Cissus does appear to have some anti-inflammatory properties and this seems to be where people got the idea that it may help arthritis pain. My guess is that speculation about it helping arthritis may have started because of its effect on hemorrhoids.
Cissus And Ulcers
The supplement has been tested to see if it helps ulcers. So far, most of the research involves lab animals. The human proof is lacking.
Cissus And Weight loss
So can it help weight loss? In one randomized placebo-controlled study, the supplement promoted weight loss more so in overweight people who did not receive it.
The problem with this study was that the product studied (called, Cylaris) didn’t only contain Cissus. It had soy, chromium, green tea extract, caffeine, and other ingredients.
In another investigation, Cissus AND irvingia gabonensis (African Mango) were combined to promote more weight loss than Cissus alone. In this 10 week study of 72 obese people, those treated with Cissus alone lost 8.82 lbs after 10 weeks while those treated with Cissus and African mango lost 11.86 lbs. Those in the placebo group who lose about 2 pounds.
See the African Mango review.
In another weight loss study, a Cissus extract (CQR 300) was compared to another supplement (called “CORE”) in overweight people. Both supplements resulted in more weight loss compared to placebo over the course of 6-8 weeks. People took the CQR 300 extract for 6 weeks and the CORE Cissus supplement for 8 weeks.
- People taking the CORE supplement 6.9 lbs without dieting and 8.5 lbs with dieting (2100 cal/day).
- People who took the Cissus extract (CQR300) lost 4 lbs without dieting and 5 pounds while dieting.
Cissus And Osteoporosis
Preliminary studies hint that the nutrient may help build bones –in rats and maybe in people. So far, the research is mostly limited to lab animals and test tubes. No study to date has demonstrated that the supplement can rebuild bone or reverse osteoporosis in humans.
What About Fractures?
Some speculate the supplement may help bones heal faster after they are fractured. The evidence for stems mostly from the early 1960s. In a more recent study of 8 dogs, researchers broke the right forelimb of dogs to create a fracture (I know, very cruel!). Dogs given the supplement healed their fractures faster than those not given it.
What about ligament and tendon injuries? So far proof is lacking.
See the BPC 157 review.
Cissus And Testosterone
So, does this supplement have an anabolic effect? Can it raise testosterone or androstenedione levels? The human proof is lacking. This doesn't mean it doesn't work, but rather that nobody appears to have done any research on Cissus and anabolic hormones or exercise.
Like all hormone boosting supplements to know if it really works is to get your hormone levels checked first. Then try a supplement for a month and then retest hormone levels again.
Cissus And Cortisol
Some websites make the claim that supplement suppresses cortisol levels. Cortisol is to bodybuilders what crosses and sunlight are to Dracula. So does it? There's no human proof.
Does It Detox The Liver?
Cissus Quadrangularis Side Effects
Does Cissus have any side effects? Studies usually report it's generally safe in healthy people who take it for short periods of time. In lab animals, high levels have been reported to produce side effects including hemorrhaging of organs, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and loss of balance. most human studies report no serious side effects. Here is a short list of things to consider. This list is not complete:
- Start with less than recommended for the first week
- talk to your doctor if pregnant or nursing
- stop taking at least 2 weeks before surgery
- talk to your doctor if you take any medications
Does Cissus Work?
Preliminary research so far is interesting. The health effects experienced may depend on what you were taking it for, the severity of the condition and the quality of the supplement used. People have told me cissus has helped their arthritis pain but without better research, it's hard to know how significant an effect it might have.
Here it is on Amazon if you want to learn more.