Cissus Quadrangularis, the Joint Panacea- Stronger Bones, Less Aches and Pains, and Reduced Swelling
Traditional Indian medicine, known as Ayurvedic medicine, has been a goldmine for the bodybuilding industry. With a history of continuous use that stretches back almost 4,000 years, Ayurvedic medicine has withstood the tests of time to stand proud next to Traditional Chinese medicine as one of the greatest resources for non-pharmaceutical remedies the world has to offer. Yet again, the Indians have come through in the clutch with an excellent herb with uses that range from improving rates of bone growth to reducing pain and inflammation, and has the added awesome benefit of increasing the rate of fat loss during its use. Though using the descriptive term “magical” might be a bit over the top, cissus quadrangularis certainly stands as one of the shining stars of herbs in terms of its utility to lifters.
Joint and muscle pain is an inevitability for lifters- it is part and parcel of training. Unfortunately, chronic use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may inhibit hypertrophy (Schoenfeld), so many lifters avoid their use as a precaution and just deal with their pain and inflammation by ignoring it. That might not be necessary, however, as cissus could take the place of aspirin and ibuprofin as both an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, and without the concomitant liver and stomach damage that comes with chronic use of those drugs.
As inflammation can come in a variety of forms, science has studied cissus to treat everything from rheumatoid arthritis to hemorrhoids to heavy training, and in all cases found that cissus resulted in a significant reduction in pain, swelling, and edema associated with injuries, chronic disorders, and acute joint and muscle pain (Kanwar, Panthong, Bloomer). Another study found that people with pain, swelling, tenderness, and mobility reduction due to aging all decreased significantly with the use of cissus. Thus, whether the symptoms come all at once or one at a time, or in a variety of forms and body parts, cissus is up for handling the task.
Cissus also seems to be perfect as an aid for healing a bone break. One study showed that healing time was cut in half with the use of cissus to speed bone regrowth, and that it significantly reduced the pain and swelling associated with the break.
And if that weren’t enough reason to try cissus, it’s also been implicated in fat loss, though the science is a bit unclear as to why. It seems to both aid in hypertrophy and reduce fat, and the speculation in regards to the fat loss is that cissus forms a gum in the stomach that gives the feeling of satiety, though that does not account for the increase of lean muscle mass one study reported (Oben). Regardless, that is a quality side effect to an already amazing herb.
This excerpt from a review of the extant studies on cissus sums up its safety: “Based on studies to date, Cissus extracts appear to be exceedingly safe and free of adverse effects at the doses commonly used” (Stohs). Cissus does seem to have muscle relaxing properties that begin to occur within 30 minutes ingestion, so including it in your preworkout drink is a bada idea, though taking it right before bed seems like a good plan.
The only study conducted on humans showed an effective dose of 3,200mg of cissus quadrangularis as a daily supplement for the reduction of joint pain. That dosage matches the dose per kg used in animal studies and thus seems to be the way to go. Should you wish to use less (it smells godawful). a dose of 300-600mg of cissus extract standardized to 2.5% ketosteroids has shown biological activity in humans.
Bloomer RJ, Farney TM, McCarthy CG, Lee SR. Cissus quadrangularis reduces joint pain in exercise-trained men: a pilot study. Phys Sportsmed. 2013 Sep;41(3):29-35.
Kanwar JR, Samarasinghe RM, Kumar K, Arya R, Sharma S, Zhou SF, Sasidharan S, Kanwar RK. Cissus quadrangularis inhibits IL-1β induced inflammatory responses on chondrocytes and alleviates bone deterioration in osteotomized rats via p38 MAPK signaling. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2015 Jun 5;9:2927-40.Oben JE, Enyegue DM, Fomekong GI, Soukontoua YB, Agbor GA. The effect of Cissus quadrangularis (CQR-300) and a Cissus formulation (CORE) on obesity and obesity-induced oxidative stress. Lipids Health Dis. 2007 Feb 4;6:4.
Panthong A, Supraditaporn W, Kanjanapothi D, Taesotikul T, Reutrakul V. Analgesic, anti-inflammatory and venotonic effects of Cissus quadrangularis Linn. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Mar 21;110(2):264-70.
Schoenfeld BJ. The use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for exercise-induced muscle damage: implications for skeletal muscle development. Sports Med. 2012 Dec 1;42(12):1017-28.
Singh V, Singh N, Pal US, Dhasmana S, Mohammad S, Singh N. Clinical evaluation of cissus quadrangularis and moringa oleifera and osteoseal as osteogenic agents in mandibular fracture. Natl J Maxillofac Surg. 2011 Jul;2(2):132-6.
Stohs SJ, Ray SD. A review and evaluation of the efficacy and safety of Cissus quadrangularis extracts. Phytother Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):1107-14.