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Giloy or Tinospora is a deciduous shrub which is found growing wild in many parts of India. Ayurvedic and folk medicine system put this herb in the highest regard for its many healing and health building benefits. In fact, it is known as “rasayana” in Ayurveda with reference to its efficiency in improving the overall functioning of the body. You might be curious to know that giloy is known as “Amrita” in sanskrit which translates to “ elixir of immortality”. Looking at all the marvelous effects of this herbs, I couldn’t but wonder if giloy is actually the mythological amrita that is fabled to keep the "devas" young and in good health.

Giloy plant is basically a climber with weak succulent stems. The stem is whitish to grey in shade and it can grow to a thickness of 1-5 cm.  Leaves of giloy are heart-shaped and membranous (thin). It bears greenish-yellow flowers during summer months while the fruits of giloy plant are more commonly seen in winters. Giloy fruits are greenish drupes which become red on maturity. Most of the medicinal benefit of giloy are present in its stem, but the leaves, fruit, and roots are also used to a minor extent.

Some basic facts about Giloy:

  • Botanical name: Tinospora cordifolia
  • Family: Menispermaceae
  • Common name: Giloy, Guduchi, Gulbel, Heart-leaved moonseed, Tinospora
  • Sanskrit name: Amrita, Tantrika, Kundalini, Chakralakshini
  • Parts used: Stem, leaves
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Giloy is a native of the Indian subcontinent but it is also found in China.
  • Energetics: warming
  1. Giloy benefits for health
  2. How giloy is used
  3. Giloy dosage
  4. Giloy side effects

Giloy is a well-known herb in ayurvedic medicine. Giloy stem is not only an excellent healing agent but as a rasayana, it makes sure that your body organs work more efficiently and at the best of their function. Let’s explore some health benefits of this ayurvedic elixir:

  • Giloy for weight loss: Giloy has hypolipidemic actions, which make it excellent for weight loss when consumed regularly. It also helps to improve digestive health and protects the liver.
  • Giloy for fever: Giloy has immunomodulatory actions and antibiotic properties. It protects you from infections due to common microorganisms like dengue fever.
  • Giloy for diabetes: Giloy is effective for diabetics since it aids in the reduction of blood glucose levels by improving insulin resistance.
  • Giloy for respiratory infections: Giloy has been found to be effective in the treatment of a chronic cough, allergic rhinitis and may also be helpful in relieving the symptoms of asthma.
  • Giloy for women: Due to its immunity-boosting properties, giloy is of great use for postmenopausal women. Its antioxidant properties may also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Giloy for men: The use of giloy can improve sexual performance and libido in men along with improving the quality of ejaculation.
  • Giloy for cancer: Some studies claim the use of giloy in the treatment of cancer due to its antioxidant properties.
  • Giloy for mental health: Giloy is commonly used for the management of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions.
  1. Giloy for skin wounds
  2. Giloy for cholesterol
  3. Giloy for anxiety and depression
  4. Giloy for menopause
  5. Giloy anticancer properties
  6. Giloy for weight loss
  7. Giloy boosts immunity
  8. Giloy for Dengue
  9. Giloy for diabetes
  10. Giloy for arthritis
  11. Giloy for liver
  12. Giloy for fever
  13. Giloy as an antibiotic
  14. Giloy for asthma
  15. Giloy for allergic rhinitis
  16. Giloy antioxidant properties
  17. Giloy for ulcer
  18. Giloy boosts libido

Giloy for skin wounds

A number of animal studies hint that Tinospora or giloy is an effective wound healing agent. It was further suggested that topical application of giloy not only healed the wounds faster but it also leads to a more efficient development of connective tissue on the injury site. Unfortunately, no human models are available to confirm the wound healing potential of this herb.

Giloy for cholesterol

Preclinical studies suggest that regular use of giloy efficiently maintains a healthy lipid profile for the body. It was noted that giloy administration significantly reduced the levels of low-density fats (bad cholesterol) and free fatty acids. However, in the absence of human studies, it's best to check in with an ayurvedic doctor before taking giloy in any form for cholesterol reduction.

Giloy for anxiety and depression

A study in India strongly suggests that giloy has a huge potential in reducing anxiety and depression in people suffering from the mentioned mental conditions. In vivo studies hint that the giloy is as efficient as some of the commonly used anti-anxiety drugs. However, research on human models is yet to be established. According to ayurvedic doctors, Tinospora is also one of the top herbs used in memory boosting formulations.

Giloy for menopause

Menopause not only marks the end of the reproductive phase in women but it also comes with certain unpleasant yet natural signs and symptoms. It is believed to also have an effect on the immune system. Studies indicate that postmenopausal women have significantly lower levels of antibodies and other associated cells that are responsible for keeping a person free from infection. As a result, women are comparatively more prone to diseases and infections in the later stages of life. Fortunately, giloy has been claimed to be an excellent immune booster for postmenopausal women. In a clinical study comprising 200 postmenopausal women, 100 women were given giloy water extract while the other 100 women were given placebo. The effect of this treatment was studied by noticing changes in various body parameters and immune cells for a period of six months. At the end of this study, it was found that the women who received giloy extracts had a much better immune function than the women who received placebo. So, giloy certainly has a potential in delaying menopause-related changes in the immune system.

Giloy anticancer properties

Anticancer properties of giloy have been studied in various types of cancers including breast cancer, skin cancer, and brain tumors. All in vivo studies claim that giloy extracts have a potential as an anti-cancer agent. It was further suggested that palmatine alkaloid present in Tinospora may be responsible for its anticancer properties. However, due to lack of human models its best to talk to your ayurveda doctor to know more about the anticancer potential of this herb.

Giloy for weight loss

Giloy has revolutionized the world of ayurvedic medicines with its amazing weight loss benefits. If you have an interest in traditional or holistic medicine you might already have heard of some weight loss benefits of giloy. There hasn’t been a study exclusively focussed on the weight loss benefits of giloy so far. But, studies suggest that this herb is an excellent hypolipidemic and hepatoprotective. Regular consumption of giloy would not only reduce the harmful fats in your body but it also helps keep the liver healthy so your food can be digested more efficiently. It is always advisable to refer to your ayurvedic doctor to know the right dosage of giloy for you. (Read more: Obesity treatment).

Giloy boosts immunity

Giloy is extensively used by the traditional system of medicine for its immunomodulating (improves immunity) benefits. Ayurvedic doctors consider giloy as one of the top immunity-boosting herbs. In a random clinical trial, 68 HIV positive people were divided into two groups. One group was given giloy while the other group was on placebo (a substance with no therapeutic effect) for a period of six months. At the end of the assigned period, it was found that group who took giloy exhibited significant improvement in their health along with an overall decrease in disease symptoms. According to an article in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, giloy or Tinospora has a band of natural biochemicals which are responsible for the immunomodulatory effect of this herb. Additional studies hint that the immunomodulatory mechanism may be due to stimulation of phagocytes (a type of immune cells) in body.

Giloy for Dengue

Ayurvedic doctors suggest Giloy juice as a remedy for early symptoms of dengue. According to a case study mentioned in The International Journal of Applied Research, a female patient of dengue was administered 40ml giloy juice twice a day for a period of 15 days. At the end of 15 days, the person showed marked improvement in platelet levels along with a reduction in fever and rashes. No evident side effects were seen. In another study, 200 people with low platelet count were given a 5ml mixture of papaya and giloy leaf extracts for 5 days. Significant improvement in platelet levels was observed in all patients. So, it can be safely said that giloy or Tinospora has a potential in preliminary therapies against dengue.

Giloy for diabetes

Giloy has been in use as a hypoglycemic (reduces blood sugar) agent in traditional and folk medicine systems. Numerous animal and lab-based studies have been done to test the efficiency of giloy as an anti-diabetic. Studies indicate that giloy or Tinospora is quite efficient in reducing blood sugar levels. It was further mentioned that this herb executes its hypoglycemic action by increasing insulin sensitivity and reducing oxidative stress in the body. Additionally, giloy also interfere with some crucial steps in glucose metabolism (gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis) which leads to an overall decreased blood glucose levels. In fact, The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)  and National Botanical Research Institute in India, have jointly launched a polyherbal product (made of more than one herb) tablet with giloy as one of its constituents. According to CSIR, this drug has been launched as an ayurvedic supplement for reducing blood sugar levels and it has no side effects that come with the usual anti-diabetes medicines. It is always advisable to talk to your doctor before taking any drug or herb. (Read more: Diabetes treatment).

Giloy for arthritis

Preclinical trials suggest that Giloy is an excellent agent for reducing arthritic inflammation and bone damage. It was further reported that giloy reduced inflammation by suppressing the activity of certain cytokines (proteins that are secreted by the immune system of the body) and T Cells (a kind of antibody cells) which are mainly responsible for inflammatory activities of the body. Additionally, it was noted that giloy also decreased the activity of osteoclasts which are cells responsible for bone resorption and remodelling in the humans. However, clinical trials are still pending in this field. So, if you are suffering from arthritis, it’s better to talk to your ayurvedic doctor before taking giloy. (Read more: Arthritis types).

 

Giloy for liver

In Ayurveda, giloy is considered one of the most important hepatoprotective herbs. Ayurvedic doctors suggest giloy for remedying conditions like jaundice. Recent lab and animal-based studies indicate that administration of giloy extract (leaf, bark, stem) shows marked hepatoprotective activity. It was further claimed that giloy increased the levels of superoxide dismutase while simultaneously decreasing the secretion of various biochemicals from liver like aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase etc. According to doctors, these enzymes are secreted in small doses by a healthy liver but in case of a damaged or problematic liver, these enzymes are secreted in much higher amounts. Which then becomes a reason for liver-based toxicity in body. Lab studies hint that tinosporine and tinosponone present in giloy can be very useful against hepatitis B and E. According to a review article published in the Indian Journal of Traditional knowledge, a clinical study has also been done to test the hepatoprotective efficiency of giloy. According to this study, 20 hepatitis patients were given 4 giloy tablets three times a day for a period of 4 weeks. Significant reduction in liver damage and hepatitis symptoms were observed in all the subjects. However, if you are suffering from any kind of liver disorder, it’s always best to check in with your ayurvedic doctor before taking giloy in any form. 

Giloy for fever

Giloy is used in traditional medicine for treating chronic fevers. Animal models suggest the potential antipyretic activity of giloy. In some clinical studies on the efficiency of giloy in dengue, a marked reduction in fever was noted. But no evidence suggest the exact mechanism by which this herb effects body temperatures. So, it’s best to ask your ayurvedic doctor to know more about the antipyretic effects of giloy.

 

Giloy as an antibiotic

In- vitro, laboratory studies suggest that giloy or Tinospora stem extracts show variable antibacterial activity against a number of pathogenic bacteria. The study further claims that Pseudomonas spp was most sensitive to this herb while Klebsiella and Proteus showed moderate susceptibility. Preclinical studies indicate that giloy or Tinospora is an excellent antimicrobial agent against peritonitis (inflammation of the inner lining of abdomen) caused by Escherichia coli. However, due to lack of human studies, not much can be confirmed about the antimicrobial aspects of this herb.

 

Giloy for asthma

In Ayurveda, giloy is widely used for its benefits in relieving chronic coughs, asthma and asthma-associated symptoms. Animal studies suggest that giloy extract is very effective in reducing hypersensitivity and allergic responses that are associated with asthma. A review article published in Pharmacognosy reviews mentions Tinospora or giloy as a potential anti-asthmatic herb. However, no human studies have been to test the mechanism and effect of giloy on asthma patients. So, it’s better to talk to your ayurvedic doctor to know more about the anti-asthmatic effects of giloy.

Giloy for allergic rhinitis

Clinical studies indicate that giloy is an excellent anti-allergic, especially in case of allergic rhinitis. In a study done in India, 75 people were given giloy or placebo for a period of 8 weeks. The study reported a significant reduction in all rhinitis symptoms in the group that was given giloy. Additionally, the eosinophil and neutrophil count (types of white blood cells) were also found to be significantly decreased. So, giloy may have some uses in anti-allergy therapies.

Giloy antioxidant properties

Antioxidants are body’s primary defense against free radicals (reactive oxygen species). These free radicals are formed as a result of various metabolic functions of the body. But lifestyle conditions or stress can create an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body. This creates a condition known as oxidative stress. A body under constant oxidative stress starts showing a gradual decline in its normal functioning. Over time, this can lead to diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes. Early signs of ageing are also associated with oxidative stress. Studies hint that giloy or Tinospora is an excellent antioxidant. Further studies suggest that the phenolic content of giloy may be responsible for its antioxidant property. According to researchers, a good amount of antioxidants in the body would not only reduce the risk of diseases like heart strokes and diabetes but it also helps in improving the overall efficiency of your body.

Giloy for ulcer

Giloy is used in ayurveda as a remedy for indigestion, flatulence, and stomach bloating. All laboratory-based studies claim that giloy extracts are very efficient in reducing gastric ulcer symptoms along with an increase in the stomach pH and decreasing acidity. But, due to the absence of human-based studies, it is difficult to confirm the effects of this herb in anti-ulcer treatments. It’s always advisable to ask your doctor before taking giloy in any form.

Giloy boosts libido

In vivo studies suggest that giloy is an excellent aphrodisiac. An overall Improvement in mating performance, changes in sexual vigour, and ejaculations were observed in animal models. However, sexual studies on humans are in progress. 

Giloy can be taken in the form of stem or leaf decoction (kadha) but it is more commonly used in the form of powder. Other products like giloy tablets, capsules, and giloy juice can be consumed if prescribed by an ayurvedic doctor. If you are not fond of the taste of this herb, you can also buy it in the form of a herbal tea.

According to ayurvedic doctors, 1-2 g of giloy stem or giloy leaf powder and upto 5 ml of giloy stem or leaf juice can be taken without worrying much about its side effects. However, it is best to refer to an ayurvedic doctor before taking giloy as a health supplement.

  • Giloy is an efficient hypoglycemic agent (blood sugar lowering), so if you are a diabetic person on medication, it is highly recommended to check with your doctor before taking giloy in any form.
  • There has been no evidence about the potential effects of giloy during pregnancy or lactation. So, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to refer to their ayurvedic doctor before using giloy in any form.
  • Tinospora is an excellent immunomodulatory which means it can stimulate your immune system to work more actively. So, if you are suffering from an autoimmune disease its best not to take giloy or ask your doctor before taking giloy.
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References

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