Wild Cotton

There are 39 species of annuals, perennials, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees in this genus, which is distributed throughout warm temperate and tropical regions. Gossypium is closely related to Hibiscus (See, hibiscus), but is less ornamental. The seeds are covered with long hairs, which are suitable for felt. Although perennial, cotton plants are usually grown as annuals in order to minimize the incidence of pests and diseases. Gossypium herbaceum was introduced from India to Egypt and China c.500BCE and to the USA in 1774. Cotton is also produced from G. arboreum (short-staple American cotton), G. barbadensis (sea-island cotton) and G. hirsutum (upland cotton). Various parts of the cotton plant are also used in the traditional medicine of producer countries. Research into its potential as a male contraceptive began in the 1970s, following the use in China of cotton-seed oil for cooking, which caused infertility in men. The active constituent appears to by gossypol, a fraction of the oil that also stimulates the uterus in women.

Gossypol is a compound found in unrefined cottonseed oil that inhibits male fertility. In 1929, investigators found a correlations between low fertility rates for couples in China's Jiangxi Province and the use of crude cottonseed oil for cooking. In extensive tests conducted in China, gossypol has been shown to lower the production of sperm and/or cause sperm to become immobile, without affecting hormone levels or libido. In one study, this male contraceptive action lasted many weeks after the last dose of gossypol was taken.

Short-lived, shrubby perennial with lobed leaves, 15cm (6in) across, dotted with black oil glands. Yellow flowers, 5cm (2in) across, with purple centers, are followed by a brittle capsule, filled with lint-covered seeds.

Common Name:
Wild Cotton
Other Names:
Cotton, Levant Cotton, Upland Cotton
Botanical Name:
Gossypium herbaceum, Gossypium hirsutum
Native Location:
Asia, Africa
Rich, well-drained soil in sun. Pinch out tips in spring to encourage bushiness. Commercial crops are prone to numerous pests and diseases.
By seed sown in spring at 24-30°C (75-85°F).
Leaves are picked during the growing season for use in poultices or lotions. Roots are lifted in autumn, peeled and dried for decoctions, liquid extracts, and tinctures. Seed heads (bolls) are picked when ripe; seeds are separated from fibers for oil extractions and decoctions.
1.5m (5ft)
1m (3ft)
Parts Used:
Leaves, root bark, seeds, extracts derived from the plant.
An astringent, slightly acidic, aromatic herb that causes uterine contractions, depresses sperm production, lowers fever, reduces inflammation, and soothes irritated tissues. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects.
Medicinal Uses:
Internally for painful menstruation (root bark); dysentery, intermittent fever, and fibroids (seeds); gastroenteritis (Leaves). Externally for yeast, scalds, bruises, and sores (Leaves); herpes, scabies, wounds, and orchitis (seeds). For use by qualified practioners only.
To treat uterine bleeding, HIV, and endometriosis; as a male contraceptive and a vaginal spermicide; to induce labor and delivery.
Typical Dose:
A typical dose of Gossypol as a male contraceptive may range from 15 to 20 mg per day for up to sixteen weeks, then reduced to half that amount for maintenance.
Possible Side Effects:
Gossypol's side effects include fatigue, appetite changes, diarrhea, and sloughing of gastrointestinal mucosal cells.
Drug Interactions:
Taking gossypol with these drugs may increase the risk of hypokalemia (low levels of potassium in the blood):
Acetazolamide, (Apo-Acetazolamide, Diamox Sequels)
Azosemide, (Diat)
Bumetanide, (Bumex, Burinex)
Chlorothiazide, (Diuril)
Chlorthalidone, (Apo-Chlorthalidone, Thalitone)
Ethacrynic Acid, (Edecrin)
Etozolin, (Elkapin)
Furosemide, (Apo-Furosemide, Lasix)
Hydrochlorothiazide, (Apo-Hydro, Microzide)
Hydroflumethiazide, (Diucardin, Saluron)
Indapamide, (Lozol, Nu-Indapamide)
Mannitol, (Osmitrol, Resectisol)
Mefruside, (Baycaron)
Methazolamide, (Apo-Methazolamide, Neptazane)
Methyclothiazide, (Aquatensen, Enduron)
Metolazone, (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn)
Olmesartan and Hydrochlorothiazide, (Benicar HCT)
Polythiazide, (Renese)
Torsemide, (Demadex)
Trichlormethiazide, (Metatensin, Naqua)
Urea, (Amino-Cerv, UltraMide)
Xipamide, (Diurexan, Lumitens)
Taking gossypol with these drugs may cause or increase kidney damage:
Amorolfine, (Loceryl, Locetar)
Amphotericin B Chlolesterol Sulfate Complex, (Amphotec)
Amphotericin B Conventional, (Amphocin, Fungizone)
Amphotericin B Lipid Complex, (Abelcet)
Amphotericin B Liposomal, (AmBisone)
Bifonazole, (Amycor, Canesten)
Butenafine, (Lotrimin Ultra, Mentax)
Butoconazole, (Gynazole-1, Mycelex-3)
Caspofungin, (Cancidas)
Ciclopirox, (Loprox, Penlac)
Clotrimazole, (Gyne-Lotrimin 3, Mycelex)
Econazole, (Spectazole)
Etodolac, (Lodine, Utradol)
Fluconazole, (Apo-Fluconazole, Diflucan)
Flucytosine, (Ancobon)
Gentian Violet, (Gentian Violet)
Griseofulvin, (Fulvicin-U/F, Grifulvin V)
Iodoquinol and Hydrocortisone, (Dermazene, Vytone)
Isoconazole, (Fazol, Gyno-Travogen)
Itraconazole, (Sporanox)
Ketoconazole, (Apo-Ketoconazole, Nizoral)
Meloxicam, (MOBIC, Mobicox)
Metformin, (Glucophage, Riomet)
Methotrexate, (Rheumatrex, Trexall)
Metronidazole, (Flagyl, Noritate)
Miconazole, (Femizol-M, Monistat 3)
Miglitol, (Glyset)
Morphine Hydrochloride, (Morphine Hydrochloride)
Morphine Sulfate, (Kadian, MS Contin)
Naftifine, (Naftin)
Natamycin, (Natacyn)
Nitrofurantoin, (Furadantin, Macrobid)
Nystatin, (Mycostatin, Nystat-RX)
Ofloxacin, (Floxin, Ocuflox)
Omoconazole, (Afongan, Fongamil)
Oxiconazole, (Oxistat)
Penicillin, (Pfizerpen, Wycillin)
Povidone-Iodine, (Betadine, Vagi-Gard)
Propoxyphene, (Darvon, Darvon-N)
Rifampin, (Rifadin, Rimactane)
Stavudine, (Zerit)
Sucralfate, (Carafate, Sulcrate)
Sulconazole, (Exelderm)
Terbinafine, (Lamisil, Lamisil AT)
Terconazole, (Terazol 3, Terazol 7)
Tioconazole, (1-Day, Vagistat)
Tolciclate, (Fungifos, Tolmicol)
Tolnaftate, (Gold Bond Antifungal, Tinactin Antifungal Jock Itch)
Tramadol, (Ultram)
Valacyclovir, (Valtrex)
Vancomycin, (Vancocin)
Voriconazole, (VFEND)
Zidovudine, (Novo-AZT, Retrovir)
Taking gossypol with these drugs may increase gastrointestinal adverse effects:
Acemetacin, (Acemetacin Heumann, Acemetacin Sandoz)
Aspirin, (Bufferin, Ecotrin)
Celecoxib, (Celebrex)
Choline Magnesium Trisalicylate, (Trilisate)
Choline Salicylate, (Teejel)
Diclofenac, (Cataflam, Voltaren)
Diflunisal, (Apo-Diflunisal, Dolobid)
Dipyrone, (Analgina, Dinador)
Etodolac, (Lodine, Utradol)
Etoricoxib, (Arixtra)
Fenoprofen, (Nalfon)
Flurbiprofen, (Ansaid, Ocufen)
Ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin)
Indomethacin, (Indovin, Novo-Methacin)
Ketoprofen, (Orudis, Rhodis)
Ketorolac, (Acular, Toradol)
Magnesium Salicylate, (Doan's, Mobidin)
Meclofenamate, (Meclomen)
Mefenamic Acid, (Ponstar, Ponstel)
Meloxicam, (MOBIC, Mobicox)
Nabumetone, (Apo-Nabumetone, Relafen)
Naproxen, (Aleve, Naprosyn)
Niflumic Acid, (Niflam, Nifluril)
Nimesulide, (Areuma, Aulin)
Oxaprozin, (Apo-Oxaprozin, Daypro)
Piroxicam, (Feldene, Nu-Pirox)
Rofecoxib, (Vioxx)
Salsalate, (Angesic, Salflex)
Sulindac, (Clinoril, Nu-Sundac)
Tenoxicam, (Dolmen, Mobiflex)
Tiaprofenic Acid, (Dom Tiaprofenic, Surgam)
Tolmetin, (Tolectin)
Valdecoxib, (Bextra)
Taking gossypol with these drugs may reduce or prevent absorption of the drug:
Ferrous Sulfate, (Feratab, Fer-Iron)
Iron-Dextran Complex, (Dexferrum, INFeD)
Disease Effects:
May cause or worsen potassium depletion.
Food and Drink Interactions:
When taken with alcohol, may inhibit certain enzymes that break down alcohol in the body, allowing levels of a by-product of alcohol metabolism called acetaldehyde to accumulate. High levels of acetaldehyde can damage tissues.
Supplement Interactions:
Culinary Uses:
Cotton-seed oil (with gossypol removed) is used as a salad and cooking oil, especially in Egyptian cuisine.
Economic Uses:
Seed oil is used in making margarine, vegetable shortenings, soaps, and animal feeds. Seed fibers account for 56 percent of all natural fibers used in fabrics, cordage, cotton wool, paper, and rayon. Other industrial uses include X-ray and photographic films and explosives.
Encylopedia of Herbs by Deni Brown Copyright ©: 1995, 2001 Dorling Kindersley Limited pp. 227-228
The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide by Geo. T. Grossberg,MD and Barry Fox,PhD Copyright©2007 Barry Fox,PhD. PP.252-255