6 Amazing Health Benefits of Monkey Sugarcane

6 amazing health benefits of monkey sugarcane

Monkey sugarcane (Costus afer) has five amazing health benefits that would surprise you. The plant, which is always greenish and perennial, is usually found in West African countries ad beers white and yellow flowers. Every part of Monkey sugarcane offers an amazing health benefits. Othe coomon names of Costus afer include Okpete, Tete-egun, or Mbritem.

The plant contains some bioactive compounds that have nephroprotective properties on the kidneys. It also protects against neurodegenerative diseases as well as protection of the pancreatic beta cells.

Phytochemical Components of Costus afer

Costus afer contains several phytochemicals in their roots, stems, rhizomes and leaves. Some of the phytochemicals include:

  • Alkaloids
  • Tannins
  • Phenols
  • Saponins
  • Triterpenes
  • Glycosides

The rhizome contains steroidal saponins such as

  • Diocin
  • Paryphllin C
  • Aferoside B
  • Aferoside C

The aerial parts contain kaempferol-3-O-R-L-rhamnopyranoside while the roots contain additional Aferoside A, Aferoside B and Aferoside C.

Health benefits of Monkey Sugarcane

Monkey sugarcane can be used in treating a wide range of illness which include:

  1. Treatment of Ulcer

The rhizome pulp and leave extracts of Costus afer are used in treating ulcers when taken, mostly by oral administration. Both the leaves and rhizome extracts increase gastroprotective factors, antioxidants such as glutathione, and decreases lipid peroxidation.

  1. Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetic patients would find the leaf and stem extracts of Monkey sugarcane useful in treating diabetes mellitus, as both extracts enhance glucose clearance and reduce hyperglycemia by increasing cellular glucose uptake. The leaf extract of monkey sugarcane protects the pancreas from autoimmune damage and also initiates the regeneration and repopulation of the pancreatic islet cells. This proves its efficacy in treatment of type one diabetes mellitus.

Aside protection of the pancreas and regeneration of islet cells, costus afer also ameliorate insulin resistance by sensitizing insulin receptors, and diosgenin is the bioactive component which ameliorates the insulin resistance by increasing glucose usage and intracellular glycogen synthesis. Costus afer also influences glucose absorption and inhibits liver gluconeogenesis.

  1. Monkey Sugarcane Possesses Antioxidant Properties

The extracts of the various parts of Costus afer, especially the leaf extract is used in treating oxidative stress. It increases the activity of plasma superoxide dismutase (SOD) and increases the levels of glutathione and serum electrolytes such as Na+ and HCO3 . Other enzymes whose activities, Costus afer extract increases include catalase and glutathione-S-transferase.

  1. Protection of The Kidneys From Toxic Damage

The plant leaves, when taken, protect the kidneys from toxic and harmful substances. It is used in treating lead-induced kidney damage as it decreases the levels of glutathione peroxidase (GSH-PX), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione S-transferase activity (GST) seen in the lead-induced kidney damage.

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  1. Possesses Anti-inflammatory Activity

Costus afer contains strong anti-inflammatory components such as Kaempferol, Aferoside A and Zn2+. They exert their anti-inflammatory activities by regulation the signaling activity of NF-kB pathways. Also, they inhibit the production of IFN-ϒ and IL-2, both which are proinflammatory factors. This regulatory effect of Costus afer extracts makes them useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Aside the regulatory role they play on NF-kB signaling pathways, they also exert inhibitory effect on the cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) and interfare with G-protein-mediated signal transduction.


Fig. Chemical structure of Kaempferol

  1. Antimalaria Properties of Monkey Sugarcane

The stem of monkey sugarcane possesses anti-plasmodium activity. According to some researches, costus afer extracts suppress plasmodium growth and influences hematopoietic  stem  cells  to  produce  RBC, especially when administered  within the dose range of 100-500mg/kg body weight investigated in this study. This shows that monkey sugarcane can be given to malaria patients as a treatment therapy.

There are several other health benefits of monkey sugarcane which may not be covered within this scope. The availability of Costus afer coupled to its several health benefits makes monkey sugarcane a valuable home remedy for most ill health conditions.

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Side Effects of Monkey sugarcane

When taken for a long period of time, the side effects from the use of Costus afer may include:

  • Sufficient reduction of red blood cells, which result in anemia.
  • Increased weight of the liver and vacuolar changes in the hepatic cells.
  • When taken by pregnant women, may lead to miscarriage.



  1. Ezejiofor, C. N. Orish, and O. E. Orisakwe, “Cytological and biochemical studies during the progression of alloxan-induced diabetes and possible protection of an aqueous leaf extract of Costus afer,” Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines, vol. 12, no. 10, pp. 745–752, 2014.View at: Publisher SiteGoogle Scholar
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Ekpe, E. Orok Udosen, D. Amaechi, and B. Yisa, “Impact of ethanolic extract of Tecoma stans and Costus aferleaves on lipid profile status of streptozotocin induced diabetic wistar rats,” International Journal of Sciences, vol. 4, no. 8, pp. 16–20, 2018.View at: Publisher SiteGoogle Scholar

  1. Ezejiofor, C. N. Orish, and O. E. Orisakwe, “Costus aferker gawl leaves against gentamicin-induced nephrotoxicity in rats,” Iranian Journal of Kidney Diseases, vol. 8, no. 4, p. 310, 2014.View at: Google Scholar
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