Shivlingi is a herbaceous plant belonging to the family Cucurbitaceae. It is an annual climbing herb (needs to be replanted every year) with a thin and spreading stem. The thin leaves of this plant are rough on one side and have a smoother texture on the other side. The identifying feature of shivlingi plant is its yellow flowers and globose seeds which have markings that look like the shivling, icon of the Indian god Shiva. In fact, this plant is named shivlingi because of the peculiar morphology (appearance) of its seeds.

Since ancient times, shivlingi has been used as an aphrodisiac and a fertility-boosting herb. According to Indian folklore, shivlingi seeds were used by women of various tribes to help them conceive a child or avoid miscarriages. With the advent of modern medicine in the last few decades, medicinal plants like shivlingi have lost some of their fame as a mainstream remedy. But, it still remains one of the top anti infertility herbs in Ayurvedic and folk medicines.

Some basic facts about shivlingi seeds

  • Botanical name: Bryonia laciniosa Linn.
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Common name: Shivlingi, Gargumara
  • Sanskrit name: Lingini, amruta, bahupatra, chitraphala
  • Parts used: Leaves, fruits, seeds
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Shivlingi plant can be found in most parts of India. It is also found in Mauritius, Australia, Philippines, Malay and parts of Africa.
  • Energetics: Warming. Increases pitta dosha in body.
  1. Shivlingi seeds health benefits
  2. How is shivlingi used
  3. How to take shivlingi seeds
  4. Shivlingi seeds side effects

In ayurvedic and folk medicine, shivlingi seeds have been attributed with numerous health building and healing benefits. It is known as an excellent antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory (reduces swelling and redness) and antipyretic. But shivlingi is most famously known for its fertility boosting properties. Let us talk about some health benefits of shivlingi that have been established by scientific research.

  • Benefits for women: Shivlingi seeds are best known for their fertility boosting effects. They nourish uterine tissue, regulate menstrual cycle, and improve the quality of ovarian follicles. However, shivlingi seeds have an abortifacient effect, so shivlingi consumption should be avoided during pregnancy.
  • Improve male fertility: Shivlingi seeds have a positive effect on male fertility. In preclinical studies, they have been found to improve testosterone levels and total sperm count. However, clinical studies are needed to confirm the fertility boosting effect of shivlingi seeds for men.
  • To get a male child: It is a widely believed concept that shivlingi seed consumption would lead to the birth of a male child. However, sex of a baby is determined by genetic factors and it is impossible to get a male child by taking herbs or supplements.
  • Antipyretic: Shivlingi seeds are used for treating fevers in ayurvedic medicine. It also mediates a tonic effect on body thus reducing fatigue and weakness associated with fever.
  • Reduces constipation: Shivlingi paste is traditionally used as a remedy for constipation. Being rich in fibre, it adds bulk to stools and softens it, thus acting as a natural laxative.

Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, shivlingi exhibits antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This means it helps prevents infections and reduce pain and swelling.

Shivlingi seeds for pregnancy and fertility

If you are a follower of ayurvedic medicine, you might have already heard about the anti-infertility miracles of shivlingi seeds. Traditional and folk medicine put a high value on the fertility boosting properties of shivlingi seeds. Studies suggest that a mixture of shivlingi seeds, jaggery and tulsi is used for alleviating the problem of infertility in females. This might point to the tonic like effects of shivlingi seeds on the uterine tissues.

According to doctors, diminished ovarian reserves (DOR) have become one of the leading causes of female infertility in today’s life. It is usually linked to the presence of lower number or poor quality of ovarian follicles and is generally a problem faced by women in their early or late 30s. However, some factors like lifestyle or physiology may cause this problem in younger women too. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) supplements are widely used for improving fertility-related problems in both males and females. It is a body hormone that mediates a strong stimulatory effect on ovarian follicles (cells that make female ova). Studies suggest that shivlingi improves fertility by an unknown impact on DHEA.

A review article published in IOSR's International Journal of Applied Chemistry suggests that shivlingi seeds help normalize the menstrual cycle in females with less blood flow. However, it was further added that if you have heavy blood flow during periods, it is best that you avoid consuming shivlingi.

Shivlingi seeds along with ashwagandha and milk have also been used as an abortifacient by some famous tribes of India. So, it is always advisable that you talk to your ayurvedic doctor to know the right way of taking shivlingi seeds.

Read more: Can I still get pregnant if I have PCOS

Shivlingi seeds for male infertility

The fertility boosting benefits of shivlingi seeds aren’t just restricted to females but it is known to be equally effective for men. Ethnobotanical (based on people) studies suggest that shivlingi seeds are believed to improve testosterone levels in men along with improving libido.

Read more: Natural remedies to boost testosterone

Scientific studies on shivlingi plant are scarce but its effects on fertility and sexual performance have been studied more extensively. Pre-clinical studies confirm the aphrodisiac effects of shivlingi seeds. Studies also suggest that ethanolic extracts of shivlingi seeds have a stimulatory effect on sperm count and testosterone levels. This might in part confirm the fertility-boosting benefits of shivlingi seeds.

Read more: How to increase sperm count

However, in the absence of human-based studies, it is better that you check in with your ayurveda doctor to know more about this benefit of shivlingi seeds.

Read more: Testosterone deficiency symptoms

Shivlingi for constipation

The laxative effects of shivlingi are known and revered by most of the traditional medicine systems. Shivlingi leaf paste has been in use as an ayurvedic remedy for constipation. Siddha medicine uses the whole shivlingi plant as a constipation remedy.

However, scientific studies are still pending to test the efficiency of shivlingi seeds in reducing constipation. But, shivlingi seeds have been found to be rich in a naturally occurring chemical compound known as glucomannan. Clinical trials suggest that glucomannans are water-soluble fibers. This means that they can accumulate inside your intestines to provide bulk to your food and soften the stools thus acting as an efficient laxative.

Due to the absence of confirmatory evidence, you are strongly recommended to talk to a doctor before taking shivlingi seeds as a constipation remedy.

Shivlingi for fever

The leaves and seeds of shivlingi plants are used in traditional medicine for the treatment of fever. An animal-based study suggests that methanolic extracts of shivlingi seeds have an excellent antipyretic (reduces fever) action. It has also been in use as a health building tonic in some traditional therapies. But, no clinical trials have yet been done to confirm the exact mechanism of action or the right dosage of shivlingi for fever treatment. So, it is highly advisable to ask your ayurvedic doctor before taking shivlingi as an anti-pyretic.

Read more: Home remedies for fever

Shivlingi seeds for male child

It has been a traditional belief that consumption of shivlingi seeds alone or in the form of a herbal formulation can be useful in conceiving a male child. However, scientifically, the sex of a baby is determined by the set of sex chromosomes they receive. Females have two X chromosomes (XX) while males have one X and one Y chromosome. Every chromosome in these pairs has an equal chance of combining with any of the other two chromosomes in the opposite pair. A baby boy is only conceived if the X chromosome from the female pairs with the Y chromosome of the male. It is a natural process that happens at the cellular level and at the time of fusion of the male and female gametes (fertilization).

Thus, it is impossible to gain a boy child with any kind of supplement, herbal or otherwise.

Read more: How to get pregnant

Shivlingi seeds for diabetes

An in vivo (animal based) study suggests that ethanolic extracts of shivlingi seeds are very useful in reducing blood sugar levels. However, no clinical studies have been done so far to confirm the antidiabetic potential of shivlingi seeds in humans. So, diabetic people are suggested that they refer to an ayurvedic doctor before taking shivlingi in any form.

Read more: Diabetes causes

Shivlingi seeds for cholesterol

According to a research article published in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, shivlingi seeds have been reported to exhibit some hypolipidemic (reduces fats cholesterol) potential. However, no clinical studies have been done so far to confirm these effects on humans.

Read more: High cholesterol treatment

Shivlingi antimicrobial properties

In vitro studies indicate that the ethanolic extracts of shivlingi plant have potent antimicrobial action against a wide range of microbes. As per a study shivlingi plant extract is very efficient in killing common infectious bacteria like Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella typhimurium.

Read more: Bacterial infections symptoms

Shivlingi seeds for cancer

Recent in vitro (lab-based) studies suggest the potential anticancer effects of shivlingi leaves on human cancer cells. It was reported that the methanolic, water-based and chloroform extracts of shivlingi leaves exhibit strong cytotoxic effect (killing human cells) on cancer cells without harming the normal body cells. Additionally, it was claimed that shivlingi leaf extracts are more potent anticancer agents than a well known anticancer drug.

Shivlingi for reducing swelling

Shivlingi has been in use as a traditional remedy for various inflammatory conditions. Generally, a paste of shivlingi leaves is applied to the skin to reduce the severity of inflammation. With the growing focus of the mainstream allopathy towards herb-based medicines, more and more herbal supplements and medicines are being introduced every day. In this trend, the anti-inflammatory activity of shivlingi has also been tested in laboratories. Animal-based studies suggest that the chloroform extracts of shivlingi leaves have significant anti-inflammatory potential.

Shivlingi seeds for asthma

Both in vitro and in vivo studies have been done to test the anti-asthmatic potential of shivlingi plant. It has been found that a 70% ethanolic extract of these seeds is very useful in reducing the risk of allergy-related asthma.

It was further added that the same extracts can act as an analgesic (pain reliever) and an anticonvulsant (reduces the risk of fits and epilepsy). Additionally, it was claimed that shivlingi extracts showed no toxicity at a dose of 3g per kg when given orally.

According to a review article published in Oriental Pharmacy and Experimental Medicine, the antiasthmatic properties of shivlingi may be due to the inflammation-reducing flavonoids (a naturally occurring chemical compound) present in this plant. More studies are still needed to understand the exact mechanism of action and toxicity, if any, in human asthma cases.

Shivlingi seeds can be taken directly or in the form of powder.

A paste of shivlingi leaves is used a traditional remedy for inflammation.

Shivlingi seeds and leaves have also been in use as an antipyretic (fever-reducing agent) in Ayurvedic medicine.

The ideal adult dosage of shivlingi seeds is 1-2 grams per day. According to ayurvedic doctors, the best time to take shivlingi seeds is 3 hours after your meal.

Shivlingi seeds can also be taken twice a day with milk to help reduce weight.

Read more: Obesity treatment

The following are some of the side effects of shivlingi seeds:

  • Shivlingi seeds have been used as an abortifacient (leads to abortion) in some traditional and folk medicine. So, if you want to take shivlingi for its fertility boosting benefits, it is better to ask your doctor to know the right dosage and method of taking them.
  • Due to lack of research, there are no known side effects of shivlingi seeds. So, it is always recommended that you talk to an ayurvedic doctor before taking shivlingi in any form.

Medicines / Products that contain Shivlingi Seeds

References

  1. Purdue University, ndiana, U.S. [Internet]. Shivlingi (Bryonia laciniosa Linn.)
  2. Princy Louis Palatty et al. A Clinical Round up of the Female Infertility Therapy Amongst Indians. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. 2012 September (Suppl), Vol-6(7): 1343-1349
  3. Padma Rekha Jirge. Poor ovarian reserve. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2016 Apr-Jun; 9(2): 63–69. PMID: 27382229
  4. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, NY. [Internet] Dehydroepiandrosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate Does this test have other names?
  5. .Mukul Chauhan, Vineet Sharma, Himanchal, Deepak Kumar. A Scientific Review on Shivlingi Beej (Bryonopsis Laciniosa): Amystrical Ethno-Medicine for Infertility. IOSR Journal of Applied Chemistry, Volume 11, Issue 5 Ver. II (May. 2018), PP 40-44
  6. Pradeep kumar, Prof. Nrmala Babu Rao. Folk lore uses and Preliminary Phytochemical Investigation on Leaves, Seeds Extract of Diplocyclos palmatus (L.) C.Jeffrey. International Journal of Advanced Research (2015), Volume 3, Issue 9, 501 - 505
  7. Vadnere Gautam P, Pathan Aslam R, Kulkarni Bharti U, Abhay Kumar Singhai. [link]. International Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Chemistry
  8. University of Michigan, Michigan, United States [Internet] Glucomannan
  9. Sandip B. Patel, Devdas Santani, Veena Patel, Mamta Shah. Anti-diabetic effects of ethanol extract of Bryonia laciniosa seeds and its saponins rich fraction in neonatally streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Pharmacognosy Res. 2015 Jan-Mar; 7(1): 92–99. PMID: 25598641
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