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Cissus quadrangularis for Weight Loss, Heart Health and Metabolic Wellness

Cissus quadrangularis Cissus quadrangularis
DaVinci Laboratories


Nobody wants to be overweight. Aside from the obvious self-image issues, being overweight and obese is associated with various health issues including heart heath, and increased risk for metabolic syndrome/diabetes. Nevertheless, nearly one in three adults (30.7 percent) are overweight, more than two in five adults (42.4 percent) have obesity, and about one in 11 adults (9.2 percent) have severe obesity.1 Consequently, it’s no surprise that losing weight has become the popular obsession, with about 49 percent of U.S. adults having tried to lose weight in the last 12 months.2 Unfortunately many who have tried to lose weight have either been unsuccessful or regained the weight after losing it.

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However, hope springs eternal—especially when it come to finding the “magic pill” that results in weight loss. But we all know the truth: there is no magic pill. There are, however, a select few nutraceuticals which have been shown in human clinical research to help promote weight loss in association with diet and exercise. This article will review the science on one of those nutraceuticals: Cissus quadrangularis.

Why Is it So Difficult to Lose Weight?

Let’s begin this discussion by addressing the question of weight loss difficulty—or more accurately—why it’s so difficult to keep weight off once we’ve lost it. Research suggests that the increasing prevalence of obesity is a reflection of genes that favor the storage of excess body fat, together with an environment where plenty of food is readily available and lifestyles that are increasingly sedentary. The more than 80 percent incidence of weight regain after initial weight loss3 is due to the coordinated actions of body systems’ (i.e., metabolic, behavioral, neuroendocrine and autonomic) responses designed to maintain high levels of body fat. So, in some ways the deck is stacked against you for losing weight and keeping it off. Yet, it can be done, and Cissus quadrangularis may be able to help. Following is a review of research on Cissus quadrangularis extract as CQR-300 (from GHA Gateway Health Alliance).

Cissus quadrangularis Once Per Day Study In Overweight/Obese Subjects

An eight-week double blind placebo-controlled pilot trial4 was conducted on 61 overweight or obese individuals told to maintain their normal exercise routines and who received individual dietary counseling. Participants were divided into four different groups: Placebo overweight, placebo obese, overweight receiving 300 mg Cissus quadrangularis extract (CQR-300 – A); obese receiving 300 mg (CQR-300 – B). Anthropometric parameters were measured, and blood samples taken every four weeks during routine visits. Results were that after eight weeks of treatment, overweight participants of the placebo group showed a slight increase, while the obese participants showed a 3.1 percent decrease in body weight. In the same time period, there was an 8.4 and 11.3 percent decrease in the body weight respectively of overweight and obese participants on CQR-300. The decrease in weight in the CQR-300 group was paralleled by a significant decrease in the waist and hip circumferences (p<0.05), systolic and diastolic blood pressures (p<0.05). Compared with the placebo, there were also significant decreases in total cholesterol after four weeks (p<0.05) and eight weeks (p<0.01) for the overweight but not the obese group. Triglyceride and fasting blood glucose levels were also significantly (p<0.005) reduced in overweight but not obese participants on CQR-300. In addition, significant increases in serotonin levels were observed at four weeks (p<0.05) and eight weeks (p<0.01).

Cissus quadrangularis Once Per Day Study in Overweight Metabolic Syndrome Subjects

This eight-week double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial5 was conducted on 67 overweight individuals with metabolic syndrome to confirm the efficacy of Cissus quadrangularis extract (CQR-300) in reducing the percentage body fat measured using two different methods—bioelectrical impedance assay versus dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). The subjects were instructed to maintain their normal exercise and dietary routines. Participants were randomly divided into two groups, placebo (32 participants) and the CQR-300 group (35 participants) and received 300 mg of corn starch or CQR-300 daily. Results were that after eight weeks of treatment, participants in the placebo group showed a 1.05 percent decrease in body fat as determined by bioelectrical impedance analysis, but no difference using DEXA. In the same time period, the CQR-300 group had 8.9 percent and 12.8 percent decreases in the body fat as measured by impedance and DEXA, respectively. These values were significantly (p < 0.05) lower than the placebo. Compared with the placebo, the CQR-300 group demonstrated significant (p < 0.05) decreases in the waist and hip circumferences, systolic and diastolic blood pressures, total cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, as well as leptin levels. In addition, there were significant (p < 0.05) increases in HDL-cholesterol and adiponectin levels. In conclusion, CQR-300 administered as a single 300 mg dose daily was effective in reducing body fat, as well as improving blood parameters associated with metabolic syndrome.

Cissus quadrangularis/Irvingia gabonensis Combination Study

A 10-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study6 was conducted with 72 obese or overweight participants (45.8 percent male; 54.2 percent female; ages 21–44) to evaluate the effects of two formulations, Cissus quadrangularis extract (CQR-300)-only and a CQR-300/Irvingia gabonensis (IG) combination, on weight loss in overweight and obese human subjects. The participants were randomly divided into three equal (n=24) groups: placebo, CQR-300-only, and CQR-300/IG combination. Capsules containing the placebo or active formulations were administered twice daily before meals; no major dietary changes nor exercises were suggested during the study. A total of six anthropomorphic and serological measurements (body weight, body fat, waist size; total plasma cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, fasting blood glucose level) were taken at baseline and at four, eight and 10 weeks. Results were that, compared to the placebo group, the two active groups showed a statistically significant difference on all six variables by week 10. The magnitude of the differences was noticeable by week four and continued to increase over the trial period. The CQR-300-only group showed significant reductions on all variables compared to the placebo group. The CQR-300/IG combination resulted in even larger reductions.

Cissus quadrangularis Combination Formula Study 1

This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study7 was conducted on 123 overweight and obese persons (47.2 percent male; 52.8 percent female; ages 19–50) to investigate the use of a Cissus quadrangularis extract (CQR-300) formulation in the management of metabolic syndrome, particularly weight loss and central obesity. The formula also included a soy albumin extract, a green tea extract, caffeine and niacin bound chromium. The 92 obese (BMI >30) participants were randomized into three groups: placebo, formulation/no diet, and formulation/diet (2100–2200 calories/day). The 31 overweight participants (BMI = 25–29) formed a fourth (no diet) treatment group. All participants received two daily doses of the formulation or placebo and remained on a normal or calorie-controlled diet for eight weeks. Results were that at the end of the trial period, statistically significant net reductions in weight and central obesity, as well as in fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and C-reactive protein were observed in participants who received the formulation, regardless of diet. In conclusion, the CQR-300 formulation appears to be useful in the management of weight loss and metabolic syndrome.

Cissus quadrangularis Combination Formula Study 2

Since obesity is generally linked to complications in lipid metabolism and oxidative stress, the aim of this study8 was to compare the effect of Cissus quadrangularis (CQR-300) to that of a proprietary formulation containing CQR-300 (CORE) on weight, blood lipids and oxidative stress in overweight and obese people. In addition to CQR-300, the CORE formula also contained a soy albumin extract, a green tea extract (with caffeine), niacin bound chromium, selenium, vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid. The first part of the study investigated the in-vitro antioxidant properties of CQR-300 and CORE using three different methods, while the second part of the study was a double-blind placebo-controlled design, involving 153 overweight and obese persons (38.7 percent males; 61.3 percent females; ages 19-54). All participants received two daily doses of CQR-300, CORE or placebo and were encouraged to maintain their normal levels of physical activity. Anthropometric measurements and blood sampling were done at the beginning and end of the study period. Results were that CQR-300 as well as CORE exhibited antioxidant properties in vitro. They also acted as in-vivo antioxidants, bringing about significant (p < 0.001) reductions in plasma TBARS (a common way to measure lipid peroxidation) and oxidative carbonyls. Both CQR-300 and CORE also brought about significant reductions in weight, body fat, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and fasting blood glucose levels over the respective study periods. These changes were accompanied by a significant increase in HDL-cholesterol levels, plasma serotonin and creatinine. In conclusion, CQR-300 (300 mg daily) and CORE (1028 mg daily) brought about significant reductions in weight and blood glucose levels, while decreasing serum lipids thus improving cardiovascular risk factors. The increase in plasma serotonin and creatinine for both groups hypothesizes a mechanism of controlling appetite and promoting the increase of lean muscle mass by CQR-300, thereby supporting the clinical data for weight loss and improving cardiovascular health.

Cissus quadrangularis’s Mechanism of Action

After reading about these studies, you may be wondering about Cissus quadrangularis’s mechanism of action. It should be noted that the aqueous extract of C. quadrangularis stems and leaves contains flavonoids and stilbenes, which inhibit lipase, amylase and α-glucosidase and. Lipase is an enzyme that breaks down dietary fat into fatty acids, while amylase and α-glucosidase break down starches into sugars. If the action of these enzymes is inhibited, then the absorption of fatty acids and sugars will be reduced, which means less calories to contribute to body weight. Therefore, these inhibition properties might be, at least in part, related to the claimed anti-obesity activity of the plant.9 In addition, the serotonin promoting properties of C. quadrangularis may also be involved since serotonin helps in appetite suppression.10


Being overweight or obese is prevalent in the U.S. and losing weight and keeping it off is difficult. Research suggests that the Cissus quadrangularis herbal extract known as CQR-300 may be able to help this process. Studies have demonstrated that CQR-300, singly or in combination with other nutraceuticals, helps reduce body weight, body fat, waist and hip circumferences, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride and fasting blood glucose levels. These changes have positive implications for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular health along with the overweight/obese condition.


1 Fryar CD, Carroll MD, Afful J. Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and severe obesity among adults aged 20 and over: United States, 1960–1962 through 2017–2018. NCHS Health E-Stats, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. Updated February 8, 2021. Accessed January 29, 2021. www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity-adult-17-18/obesity-adult.htm.

2 Martin CB, et al. Attempts to Lose Weight Among Adults in the United States, 2013–2016. NCHS Data Brief No. 313, July 2018. Retrieved February 28, 2022 from www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db313.htm#:~:text=Key percent20findings,-Data percent20from percent20the&text=In percent202013 percentE2 percent80 percent932016 percent2C percent2049.1 percent25, percent25) percent20tried percent20to percent20lose percent20weigh.

3 Wysoker A. A Conceptual Model of Weight Loss and Weight Regain: An Intervention for Change J Am Psychiatr Nurses Assoc. 2002; 8(5):168-173.

4 Kuate D, Nash RJ, Bartholomew B, Penkova Y. The Use of Cissus quadrangularis (CQR-300) in the Management of Components of Metabolic Syndrome in Overweight and Obese Participants. Nat Prod Commun. 2015; 10(7): 1282-86.

5 Nash R, Azantsa B, Kuate K, et al. The Use of a Stem and Leaf Aqueous Extract of Cissus quadrangularis (CQR-300) to Reduce Body Fat and Other Components of Metabolic Syndrome in Overweight Participants. J Altern Complement Med. 2019; 25(1): 98-106.

6 Oben JE, Ngondi JL, Momo CN, et al. The use of a Cissus quadrangularis/Irvingia gabonensis combination in the management of weight loss: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2008, 7:12.

7 Oben J, Kuate D, Agbor G, et al. The use of a Cissus quadrangularis formulation in the management of weight loss and metabolic syndrome. Lipids Health Dis. 2006 Sep 2;5:24.

8 Oben Je, Enyegue DM, Fomekong GI, et al. The effect of Cissus quadrangularis (CQR-300) and a Cissus formulation (CORE) on obesity and obesity-induced oxidative stress. Lipids Health Dis. 2007 Feb 4;6:4.

9 Sharp H, Hollinshead J, Bartholomew BB, et al. Inhibitory Effects of Cissus quadrangularis L. Derived Components on Lipase, Amylase and α-Glucosidase Activity in vitro. Nat Prod Commun. 2007; 2(8): 817-822.

10 Yabut JM, Crane JD, Green AE, et al. Emerging Roles for Serotonin in Regulating Metabolism: New Implications for an Ancient Molecule. Endocrine Reviews. 2019; 40(4): 1092–1107.

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, the provost for Huntington University of Health Sciences, is a nutritionist, herbalist, writer and educator. For more than 40 years he has educated and trained natural product retailers and health care professionals, has researched and formulated natural products for dozens of dietary supplement companies, and has written articles on nutrition, herbal medicine, nutraceuticals and integrative health issues for trade, consumer magazines and peer-reviewed publications. He can be reached at gene.bruno@hchs.edu.