Cissus Quadrangularis: Finding Truth in the Rumors

The Unknown

It’s perfectly acceptable if you did a double-take after reading the title.  Not many people have heard of Cissus Quadrangularis (hereafter referred to as Cissus), and even fewer know what it’s used for. Beyond that, and even fewer know whether it actually does what it says. 

Cissus is a tropical vine of the family Vitaceae, the grape family.  Throughout history, Cissus has been a part of homeopathic and tribal medicine as a way to reduce the effect of certain symptoms of Malaria, to reduce pain, and to rid the body of parasites.

 In the modern medical community, Cissus is rumored to help in lipid metabolism (fat loss), to have an analgesic (painkilling) effect, and to support the health of various parts of the body – tendons, bones, muscles.  This article will examine these modern rumors to help you, the consumer, make an informed decision about its use.

Does Cissus help me metabolize fat?

Cissus can lead to a healthier physical state.
Cissus can lead to a healthier physical state.

While this supplement is not extensively studied, the studies that have been performed look promising in the weight-loss department. 

Two blind weight-loss studies from BioMed Central utilized Cissus.  Both studies found increased weight loss from those taking Cissus versus those taking the placebo, 8.8% higher and 5.4% higher.  Based on this, it would appear that in addition to diet and exercise, Cissus can help speed weight loss. 

It was also noted that the studies observed an increase in HDL, or good cholesterol.  While it is stressed that Cissus has not been extensively studied, the preliminary tests look favorable and hint at a powerful weight loss aspect.

Does Cissus work as a painkiller?

This rumor is a bit difficult to nail down.  There have been no formal studies done to scientifically measure Cissus’ ability to exhibit analgesic effects; however, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. 

Those who have gastric problems from overusing traditional NSAIDs use Cissus as an alternative since it is not as harsh on the digestive system.  It inhibits inflammation which also may explain the pain-killing effect.  There is a reason Cissus is a staple in tribal medicine even to this day – it has noticeable effects.

Does Cissus work for my tendons, bones, and muscles?

cissus for joint health
Cissus will help heal up those nagging injuries.
(CC BY 2.0)

The easy answer is yes… and no. 

The studies done in this department focus on fracture healing and Cissus’ ability to aid in healing broken bones.  While Cissus has been found to help with healing a fracture, there is no evidence that it helps with tendons and joints.  Connective tissue such as tendons is made up of a different structure than bones.  Therefore there is scientific proof in its ability to help with fractures, but the jury is still out regarding tendons.

As for muscles, there is anecdotal evidence that Cissus helps with increased definition and mass gain.  However, this may be a result of the body’s newfound fat loss, and not a result of increase in muscle mass.  There is no evidence either direction in this case.

Cissus Quadrangularis Side-Effects?

The side effects of Cissus are not known.  As such, it is highly recommended to follow all directions on the label for dosage, and to stop using it immediately if you experience any negative side-effects.

The verdict?

Everybody’s body responds differently to supplements.  That’s the bane of trying to be healthy.  What works for one person, may not work for the other, or have the completely opposite effect.  The anecdotal evidence for Cissus-use is strong, and the scientific evidence is slowly appearing.  My advice?  Give it a shot.  It just might be what you’re looking for.


Statements found within have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These dietary supplement products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult a physician if you are unsure about taking a new supplement. Do not take this supplement if you are under 18, if you are pregnant, nursing, or have any cardiovascular issues.

Scientific studies cited are not conclusive and have limitations, due to of their closed environment nature. Referenced studies will not necessarily determine your experience with a supplement, since there are many unaccounted variables, which fall outside the scope of the studies.

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