Abu Jahl, Alhandal, Bitter Apple, Bitter Cucumber, Citrullus colocynthis, Colocynth Pulp, Colocynthidis Fructus, Colocynthis vulgaris, Coloquinte, Coloquíntida, Concombre Amer, Hadaj, Hindal, Cucumis colocynthis, Koloquinthen, Pulpe de Coloquinte, Tumba, Vine-of-Sodom, Wild Gourd.


Overview Information

Colocynth is an herb. The ripe fruit and seed are used as a medicine.

Despite serious safety concerns, colocynth is used for diabetes, high cholesterol and blood fats called triglycerides, constipation, and tuberculosis. It is also used in combination products for treating liver and gallbladder ailments.

Colocynth is used on the skin for nerve pain in people with diabetes.

The seeds of colocynth fruit are used in bread.

How does it work?

Colocynth contains chemicals called cucurbitacins. These chemicals are extremely irritating to mucous membranes, including those in the stomach and intestines.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Diabetes. Taking colocynth in doses of 1 gram daily seems to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes who are taking diabetes medicine. But the potential risks associated with this high dose might outweigh the benefit. Taking colocynth in lower doses seems to slightly lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. But the benefit is still not enough to meet target blood sugar levels.
  • Nerve pain in people with diabetes (diabetic neuropathy). Some research suggests that applying colocynth extract to the feet might reduce pain in people with nerve pain from diabetes.
  • High levels of cholesterol or other fats (lipids) in the blood (hyperlipidemia). Some research shows that taking colocynth can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with high levels of cholesterol and other blood fats. But the benefit varies greatly among patients. And taking colocynth doesn't seem to lower levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol or increase levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol.
  • Constipation.
  • Gallbladder problems.
  • Liver problems.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of colocynth for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Colocynth is UNSAFE. Colocynth was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. Taking even small amounts of colocynth can cause severe irritation of the stomach and intestine lining, bloody diarrhea, kidney damage, bloody urine, and inability to urinate. Other side effects include convulsions, paralysis, and death. There have been reports of death following ingestion of less than 2 grams of the powder. In clinical trials, mild diarrhea has been reported with as little as 300 mg of colocynth powder.

In case of poisoning, a dilute tannic acid solution should be taken, followed by large quantities of drinks that contain eggs (albuminous drinks).

When diluted and applied to the skin in sesame oil, colocynth extract is POSSIBLY SAFE.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Colocynth is UNSAFE. Don't take it.

Diabetes: Colocynth might lower blood sugar levels. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use colocynth.

Surgery: Colocynth might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking colocynth at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.



Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with COLOCYNTH

    Colocynth is a type of laxative called a stimulant laxative. Stimulant laxatives can decrease potassium levels in the body. Low potassium levels can increase the risk of side effects of digoxin (Lanoxin).

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with COLOCYNTH

    Colocynth can work as a laxative. In some people colocynth can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea can increase the effects of warfarin and increase the risk of bleeding. If you take warfarin do not to take excessive amounts of colocynth.

  • Water pills (Diuretic drugs) interacts with COLOCYNTH

    Colocynth is a laxative. Some laxatives can decrease potassium in the body. "Water pills" can also decrease potassium in the body. Taking colocynth along with "water pills" might decrease potassium in the body too much.
    Some "water pills" that can decrease potassium include chlorothiazide (Diuril), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, Hydrodiuril, Microzide), and others.



The appropriate dose of colocynth depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for colocynth. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

View References


  • Chaturvedi M, Mali PC, Ansari AS. Induction of reversible antifertility with a crude ethanol extract of Citrullus colocynthis Schrad fruit in male rats. Pharmacology. 2003;68(1):38-48. View abstract.
  • Goldfain D, Lavergne A, Galian A, et al. Peculiar acute toxic colitis after ingestion of colocynth: a clinicopathological study of three cases. Gut 1989;30:1412-18.. View abstract.
  • Heydari M, Homayouni K, Hashempur MH, Shams M. Topical Citrullus colocynthis (bitter apple) extract oil in painful diabetic neuropathy: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Diabetes. 2016;8(2):246-52. View abstract.
  • Huseini HF, Darvishzadeh F, Heshmat R, Jafariazar Z, Raza M, Larijani B. The clinical investigation of Citrullus colocynthis (L.) schrad fruit in treatment of Type II diabetic patients: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res. 2009;23(8):1186-9. View abstract.
  • Khan SA, Shelleh HH, Bhat AR, Bhat KS. Colocynth toxicity. A possible cause of bloody diarrhea. Saudi Med J. 2003;24(8):904-6. View abstract.
  • Li Y, Zheng M, Zhai X, et al. Effect of Gymnema Sylvester, Citrullus colocynthis and Artemisa absinthum on blood glucose and lipid profile in diabetic human. Acta Pol Pharm. 2015;72(5):981-5. View abstract.
  • Mehta A, Srivastva G, Kachhwaha S, Sharma M, Kothari SL. Antimycobacterial activity of Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad. against drug sensitive and drug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis and MOTT clinical isolates. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;149(1):195-200. View abstract.
  • Osol and Farar. The Dispensatory of the United States of America. 25th ed. JB Lippincott Co., 1955.
  • Rahbar AR, Nabipour I. The hypolipidemic effect of Citrullus colocynthis on patients with hyperlipidemia. Pak J Biol Sci. 2010;13(24):1202-7. View abstract.
  • Savaj S, Ghaffari M, Abbasi MA, Azar J. Acute interstitial nephritis induced by Citrullus colocynthis. Iran J Kidney Dis. 2017;11(5):385-387. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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