TRIBAL AND HERBAL MEDICINE USES
Condurango has long been used for a variety of digestive and stomach problems by the local people where this tropical vine grows. It aids digestion by being a bitter stimulant to increase digestive juices. It is also used to relieve nausea and vomiting, to calm nervous stomachs, to relieve stomach pain and cramps, for gastric ulcers, and to increase bile in the gallbladder, liver and pancreas.
Condurango was first introduced into the United States in 1871 in an official manner; it was given to the State Department in Washington by the Minister of Ecuador with official certificates from Ecuadorian doctors attesting to its ability to treat stomach cancer and syphilis. While it was never really proven effective for cancer during those early years, it became a trusted remedy for digestive disorders in the late 1800s and early 1900s and was included in the U.S. Pharmacopeia as well as several other European pharmacopeias.
In herbal medicine systems today in Peru condurango is considered an analgesic, appetite stimulant, carminative (expels intestinal gas), chologogue (increases gallbladder bile), hemostat (stops bleeding), stomachic (aids digestion), and tonic. It is often used for a variety of digestive disorders and is especially recommended for bleeding gastric ulcers. In Brazil, condurango is used for appetite loss, dyspepsia, gastralgia, gastritis, neuralgia, stomachaches, stomach cancer, stomach ulcers, and rheumatism.
Condurango contains a group of novel glycosides and steroids. After more than 100 years since it was introduced to the West as a plant active against cancer, a group of Japanese scientists published several studies and filed several Japanese and U.S., patents on these novel compounds as anti-tumor substances in the 1980s. The vine bark is reported to contain an average of 1 to 3% of these various glycosides. However, since filing these patents, research has not progressed past animal studies and into human studies and the true anti-tumor effect in humans still remains unknown today.
Other constituents in condurango include hydroxylated pregnane derivatives, chlorogenic and caffeic acids, as well as various cyclitols, flavonoids, and coumarin derivatives.
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND CLINICAL RESEARCH
Condurango has been reported with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions in animal studies. In test tube studies, it was shown to be highly active against the mycobacterium that causes tuberculosis but inactive against any of the viral strains they tested it against. Its use as a digestive aid was studied and validated in the mid-1980s when scientists reported that it increased various digestive enzymes and juices in the stomach.
CURRENT PRACTICAL USES
For more than 100 years condurango has been used as a remedy for many types of stomach and digestive problems here in the United States. It continues to be an excellent remedy to calm nervous and upset stomachs, relieve stomach pain, nausea, and intestinal gas, and to be an overall bitter digestive tonic for sluggish or poor digestion and to stimulate the appetite.
CONDURANGO PLANT SUMMARY
Main Preparation Method: infusion or fluid extract
Main Actions (in order): stomachic, anti-emetic, chologogue, anti-ulcerous, pain reliever (stomach)
for indigestion, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain
as a bitter stomach tonic to increase appetite
for gastric ulcers
as a digestive aid to increase and stimulate digestive juices and bile
for nervous eating disorders (anorexia, etc.)
Properties/Actions Documented by Research: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-leukemic, antioxidant, antitumorous, stomach stimulant
Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use: adaptogenic, alterative, analgesic, anti-emetic, appetite stimulant, bitter, chologogue, circulatory stimulant, emmenagogue, hemostat, nervine, stomach relaxant, tonic
Cautions: Avoid use if allergic to latex.
Traditional Preparation: Condurango vine bark is traditionally prepared in fluid extracts and infusions. See Traditional Herbal Remedies Preparation Methods page if necessary for definitions.
Contraindications: One case report was published that a patient with a known latex allergy had an allergic reaction to a condurango tea. If you are allergic to latex, it is best to avoid using this plant.
Drug Interactions: None reported.
WORLDWIDE ETHNOMEDICAL USES
Brazil as a bitter tonic, depurative, and stomachic; for appetite loss, dyspepsia, digestive disorders, gastralgia, gastritis, neuralgia, stomachaches, stomach cancer, stomach ulcers, and rheumatism
Colombia as a stomachic; for cancer
Ecuador for cancer, inflammation, snakebite, stomach cancer, and syphilis
Germany for dyspeptic complaints and loss of appetite
Latin America for syphilis and venereal diseases
Peru as an analgesic, appetite stimulant, carminative, chologogue, hemostat, and tonic; for anemia, anorexia, bleeding ulcers, cancer, dyspepsia, digestive disorders, gastralgia, gastritis, snakebite
United Kingdom as a adaptogenic, alterative, anti-emetic, appetite stimulant, bitter, circulatory stimulant, and stomach relaxant; for anorexia nervosa, gastric ulcers, nausea, nervous indigestion, and stomach cancer
United States as an alterative, analgesic, antiseptic, appetite stimulant, bitter tonic, circulatory stimulant, cystostatic, digestive stimulant, diuretic, emmenagogue, hemostat, nervine, restorative, stomachic, stomach sedative, and tonic; for anorexia nervosa, beri-beri, cancer, catarrhal gastritis, digestive disorders, duodenal ulcers, gastric debility, gastric ulcers, gastritis, loss of appetite, nausea, rheumastism, snakebite, stomachaches, stomach cancer, stomach ulcers, syphilis, and ventricular ulcers
Family: Apocynaceae & Asclepiadaceae
Taxon: Marsdenia cundurango Rchb. F
Synonyms: Marsdenia reichenbachii, Gonolobus condurango, Echites acuminata
Common names: bejuco de condor, bejuco de sapo, condor plant, common condorvine, condurango, condurango blanco, eagle vine, tucacsillu
Parts Used: Vine bark
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND ACTIONS
Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
Infusion: 1 cup 3 times daily
kills cancer cells
Extract: 3 ml twice daily
Capsules: 2 g twice daily
relieves stomach pain
expels intestinal gas
Condurango is a tropical woody vine that can be found in the high mountain jungles and cloud forests between 2,000 and 3,000 m in elevation. It is indigenous to the lower slopes of the Andes in Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. It grows about 30 feet long and produces velvety heart-shaped leaves and small funnel-shaped greenish brown flowers. The vine grows to about 2 feet in diameter and is quite woody and sturdy. Condurango gets its local name, condor vine or eagle vine, from the large and weighty condor eagles that often use this sturdy vine as roosts and perches.