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Colocynth (Colocynthidis fructus)

Published September 1, 1990.
List of German Commission E Monographs (Phytotherapy)


Name of Drug

Colocynthidis fructus, colocynth.

Composition of Drug

Colocynth consists of the ripe fruit of Citrullus colocynthis L. Schrader [Fam. Cucurbitaceae], freed from the outer shell of the pericarp, as well as preparations thereof.

The drug contains cucurbitacin.


Preparations of colocynth are used exclusively in fixed combinations for acute and chronic constipation of various origins, also during pregnancy and in case of liver and gallbladder ailments.

Colocynth preparations have a drastic laxative effect.

The effectiveness for the other claimed applications is not documented.


Colocynth contains up to 3 percent cucurbitacin. For the drug and its preparations, drastic irritations of the gastrointestinal mucosa to the extent of hemorrhagic diarrhea are documented. Partial absorption can lead to kidney damage and hemorrhagic cystitis. An abortive action is not known.


The use of colocynth as a drastic laxative can no longer be justified because of the high risks involved.

For the other claimed uses, the application cannot be justified because of risks and undocumented effectiveness.