4 Benefits of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta: Dosage & Safety

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is a medicinal herb traditionally used in Africa for thousands of years. It’s said to help with Lyme disease, malaria, blood sugar regulation, and more. This article will …

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Medical Review by: Daniel Powers, MS
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Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is a medicinal herb traditionally used in Africa for thousands of years.

It’s said to help with Lyme disease, malaria, blood sugar regulation, and more.

This article will look at the health benefits of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, its safety, dosage, and history

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta health benefits

What is Cryptolepis sanguinolenta?

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is a medicinal plant native to West Africa, found in tropical rainforests, mountains, and thickly wooded areas.

The plant’s Latin name is Cryptolepis sanguinolenta. This plant has various local names created by people from different countries and regions. One of its most common names is yellow-dye root.

Some of the major bioactive constituents found in Cryptolepis sanguinolenta include:

  • Cryptolepine
  • Hydroxycryptolepine
  • Quindoline
  • Isocryptolepine
  • Cryptospirolepine
  • Xylopic acid

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is commonly used for treating malaria, Lyme disease, and diabetes. It is also thought to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity.

Benefits of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta:

Below are the top research-backed health benefits of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta and its active compounds.

benefits of taking Cryptolepis sanguinolenta

1. May treat Lyme Disease

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is one of the many herbs used to help treat Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States. The bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, and the parasite, Babesia duncani, can both cause Lyme disease.

A lab-based study evaluated several botanicals, including Cryptolepis sanguinolenta, Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa), and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) on their effectiveness against the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Cryptolepis sanguinolenta showed a strong ability to halt growth and eradicate Borrelia burgdorferi.

Another lab-based study examined some of the same botanicals against the parasite Babesia duncani. Cryptolepis and its main bioactive compound, cryptolepine, was shown to inhibit the growth of Babesia duncani. Furthermore, the study revealed that Cryptolepis and cryptolepine had equal or better activity against Babesia duncani than commonly used antibiotic and antimalarial drugs.


Lab-based studies have found that Cryptolepis may work to inhibit and prevent Lyme disease. Human clinical trials are needed for verification of this finding.

2. May Treat Malaria

Malaria is a parasitic infection caused by mosquitoes. In 2020, the CDC estimated that malaria caused 241 million hospital visits and 627,000 deaths.

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is widely used as an effective natural malaria treatment in African communities.

A 2010 clinical trial studied the clinical efficacy of Cryptolepis root tea on 44 patients infected with uncomplicated malaria. The patients were given tea three times per day for five days. Within three days of treatment, 50% of patients were cleared and all patients were cleared by seven days. In addition, uncomplicated malaria symptoms of fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting quickly diminished by day three of treatment. Overall, the cure rate was 93.5%.

A lab-based study showed that phytochemicals found in Cryptolepis (primarily its alkaloids cryptolepine and isocryptolepine) had antimalarial activity, hindering the development of malarial parasites. Researchers also added that the clinical efficacy of cryptolepine could help reduce fever, a common symptom associated with malaria. 

Animal research has found that cryptolepine and xylopic acid have a synergistic interaction and antimalarial activity.


Cryptolepis sanguinolenta shows evidence of being an effective uncomplicated malaria treatment, however, additional clinical research would be useful in further confirming this finding.

3. May Treat Diabetes

Another potential Cryptolepis benefit is its ability to regulate blood sugar.

Diabetes occurs when your blood glucose (also called blood sugar) is too high. It’s a global epidemic affecting 1 in 11 adults.

An animal study examined the effect of Crytoleptis extract on glucose absorption. Results showed significant reductions in blood glucose levels, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol, as well as increased HDL cholesterol. Researchers concluded that the lowered blood sugar levels is due to the plant’s alkaloid compounds.

Another animal study observing crytolepine for managing diabetes discovered that this alkaloid can reduce fasting blood sugar, body weight, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol and eliminate neuropathic pain.


Animal research shows that Cryptolepis sanguinolenta may benefit individuals with diabetes by benefiting glucose absorption, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Human studies are required in order to verify these findings.

4. Antimicrobial Properties

The benefits of Cryptolepis also include its antimicrobial properties.

A lab-based study investigated 47 different medicinal plants against Campylobacter spp, a bacteria that causes stomach flu. Cryptolepis was one of the two plants with the most potent antibacterial effectiveness. In addition, the compound cryptolepine showed more significant antibacterial activity than commonly prescribed antibiotic medications.

Another lab-based study demonstrated that the extract of Cryptolepis has antimicrobial activity against several types of bacteria, including:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • E. coli
  • Salmonella typhi
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Candida albicans
  • Klebisella pneumonia
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa


Lab-based research indicates that Cryptolepis benefits the body through its antimicrobial properties. Human clinical studies are needed for confirmation.
Cryptolepis sanguinolenta benefits

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta Safety:

Some research has indicated that Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is considered generally safe at standard doses.

Lyme disease expert and author, Stephen Harrod Buhner noted that considerable research has been conducted on the safety of this plant, and no potential adverse reactions have been found.

Researchers discovered that some individuals taking Crytolepis herbal preparations had elevated levels of ALP (alkaline phosphatase) and uric acid; however, levels returned to normal after discontinuing the herb.

Although there are no reports of adverse effects, those taking hypnosedatives or CNS depressants should use caution when taking Cryptolepis.

Pregnancy & Lactation:

One animal study reported adverse effects in pregnancy while using Cryptolepis.

Some animal studies have shown that this herb can decrease male and female fertility and abort pregnancy.

There is limited information regarding the use or safety of Cryptolepis during pregnancy or lactation; therefore, the safety has not been established.

As always, we recommend talking with your personal healthcare provider before taking this herb.

Lyme disease expert and author, Stephen Bunker reports the following dosages:

Crpytolepis Dosing:

Below are the standard dosing protocol for consuming cryptolepis.

For Malaria:

Take it as tea. Add 1 tsp. of herb to 6 oz. of hot water. Drink 1-2x per day.

  • For acute conditions, drink up to 6 cups per day.
  • If you use hard water or don’t know what kind of water you are using, add 1 tsp. of vinegar or lemon juice to the hot water.

For Skin Infections:

Liberally sprinkle the powdered herb on the site of infection as frequently as needed.

  • For resistant staph infection:
    • Consume ½ tsp. to 1 tsp. 3x per day.
    • In severe cases, take up to 1 tbsp. 3x per day for no longer than 60 days.

General Health:

Drink 1-2 cups per day of the tea or 2-3 droppers of the tincture per day for extended, long-term use is considered okay.

  • Tincture (1:5; 60% alcohol): Take 20-40 drops up to 4x per day.
  • Capsules: Take three 00 capsules 2x per day
    • For acute conditions, take up to 20 capsules per day.


Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is not on the United Plant Saver’s “species-at-risk” list of plants that are sensitive to the impact of human activities.

Naming & Taxonomy:

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is the plant’s Latin name. It belongs to the Apocynaceae (i.e., dogbane) family of plants.

The plant has several common names from people of different regions:

  • Ghana Quinine (Ghana)
  • Koli mekari (Bantu)
  • Nurubima (Guan)
  • Kadze (Ewe)
  • Nibima (Twi)
  • Paran pupa (Yoruba)
  • Gangnamau (Hausa)

The plant is a thin-stemmed shrub and produces a yellow flower. When cut, the stem creates an orange-colored sap, which becomes red when ripened.

The root and leaves are the parts of the plant mainly used in herbal preparations for medicinal purposes.

History & Traditional Use:

In West Africa, Cryptolepis sanguinolenta was traditionally used to treat diarrhea, bacterial respiratory conditions, hypertension, wounds, malaria, and insomnia.

In Guinea Bissau, the root decoction of this plant was traditionally used to treat hepatitis.

Some traditional herbalists have used Cryptolepis for treating fever, urinary tract infections, and upper respiratory tract infections.

Lyme expert and author, Stephen Harrod Buhner stated that in Africa and India, this plant is often used as a general tonic and taken for years at a time.

Best Herbs for Lyme Disease:

Cryptolepis is considered one of the best herbs for treating Lyme disease, however, there are many other herbs with this same purported benefit.

We have put together several articles going over the best herbs for Lyme disease.




Cat’s Claw

• Chinese Skullcap

Cistus incanus



Japanese Knotweed



Cryptolepis benefits the body in a variety of different ways. It has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years and is used for treating uncomplicated malaria, Lyme disease, diabetes, and bacterial infections.

While some human clinical trials exist, more research is needed.

Although the plant is considered safe, always consult your physician before adding a new herbal supplement to your regimen, especially if you take any medication.

Ajayi, A. F., Akhigbe, R. E., Adewumi, O. M., Okeleji, L. O., Mujaidu, K. B., & Olaleye, S. B. (2012). Effect of ethanolic extract of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta stem on in vivo and in vitro glucose absorption and transport: Mechanism of its antidiabetic activity. Indian Journal of Endocrinol. Metab., 16, 91-96. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3354926/ 

Buhner, S. H. (2015). Healing Lyme: Natural healing of Lyme borreliosis and the coinfections chlamydia and spotted fever rickettsioses (2nd edition). Raven Press: Boulder, CO

Osafo, N., Mensah, B. K., & Yeboah, K. O. (2017). Phytochemical and pharmacological review of Cryptolepis sanguinolenta (lindl.) schlechter. Adv. Pharmacol Sci., 3026370. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5661077/

Paulo, A., Pimentel, M., Viegas, S., Pires, I., Duarte, A., Cabrita, J., & Gomes, E. T. (1994). Cryptolepis sanguinolenta activity against diarrhoeal bacteria. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 44, 73-77. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7853867/

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About Tara Bassi, MS, CNS, LDN

Tara is a Licensed Nutritionist and Clinical Herbalist, specializing in women’s health. She has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Herbal Medicine from Maryland University of Integrative Health and is a Board Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS®).