Alhandal, Bitter Apple, Bitter Cucumber, Citrullus colocynthis, Colocynth Pulp, Colocynthidis Fructus, Colocynthis vulgaris, Coloquinte, Coloquíntida, Concombre Amer, Cucumis colocynthis, Koloquinthen, Pulpe de Coloquinte, Tumba, Vine-of-Sodom, Wild Gourd.
Colocynth is an herb. The ripe fruit is used as a medicine.
Despite serious safety concerns, colocynth is used in combination products for treating constipation, liver, and gallbladder ailments.
How does it work?
Colocynth contains the chemical cucurbitacin, which is extremely irritating to the mucous membranes, including the mucous membranes in the stomach and intestines.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...
- Liver problems.
- Gallbladder problems.
- Other conditions.
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
Colocynth is UNSAFE for use. It was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991.
Taking even very 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 just 1-1/2 teaspoons of the powder.
In case of poisoning, a dilute tannic acid solution should be taken, followed by large quantities of drinks that contain eggs (albuminous drinks).
Digoxin (Lanoxin)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
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)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
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)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.
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.
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.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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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.
Osol and Farar. The Dispensatory of the United States of America. 25th ed. JB Lippincott Co., 1955.