What is it?
Gossypol is an herbal medicine used to treat cancer and a female problem called endometriosis. It may also be used by women and men to prevent pregnancy.
Other names for gossypol include: Gossypium hirsutum and cottonseed oil.
Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.
Tell your doctor if you
- are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
- are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
- are breastfeeding
- have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease
Talk with your caregiver about how much gossypol you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking gossypol. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.
To store this medicine:
Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.
Drug and Food Interactions:
Do not take gossypol without talking to your doctor if you are taking:
- Digoxin (Lanoxin(R)) (29)
- Medicines used for pain and swelling (examples: diclofenac (Cataflam(R), Voltaren(R)); ibuprofen (Advil(R), Motrin(R)); ketoprofen (Orudis(R), Oruvail(R)); nabumetone (Relafen(R)); naproxen (Aleve(R), Naprosyn(R))) (23-25)
- Potassium (Slo-K(R), K-Dur(R), Klor-Con(R), Polycitra-K(R)) (23, 26-28)
- Water pills for swelling or high blood pressure (diuretics, examples: amiloride (Midamor(R)); bumetanide (Bumex(R)); furosemide (Lasix(R)); hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix(R), Hydrodiuril(R), Microzide(R)); spironolactone (Aldactone(R)); triamterene (Maxzide(R), Dyazide(R), Dyrenium(R))) (22,23,26-28)
- Do not take gossypol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Do not drink alcohol when taking gossypol.
Call your doctor right away if you have any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hand, swelling or tingling in your mouth or thorat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash.
Other Side Effects:
You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.
- Dry mouth or skin, nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), hair loss, bowel problems (1)
- Muscle weakness or paralysis (21)
- Severe tiredness (21)
1. Flack MR, Pyle RG, Sullen NM et al: Oral gossypol in the treatment of metastatic adrenal cancer. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1993; 76:1019-1024.
2. Bushunow P, Reidenberg NM, Wasenko J et al: Gossypol treatment of recurrent adult malignant gliomas. J Neuro-Oncology 1999; 43(1):79-86.
3. Ratsula K, Haukkamaa M, Wichmann K et al: Vaginal contraception with gossypol: a clinical study. Contraception 1983; 27(6):571-576.
4. Coutinho EM, Athayde C, Atta G et al: Gossypol blood levels and inhibition of spermatogenesis in men taking gossypol as a contraceptive. A multicenter, international, dose-finding study. Contraception 2000; 61(1): 61-67.
5. Gu ZP, Mao BY, Wang YX et al: Low dose gossypol for male contraception. Asian J Androl 2000; 2(4):283-287.
6. Coutinho EM & Melo JF: Clinical experience with gossypol in non-Chinese men: a follow-up. Contraception 1988; 37(2):137-151.
7. Liu GZ, Lyle KC & Cao J: Clinical trial of gossypol as a male contraceptive drug. Part I. Efficacy study. Fertil Steril 1987; 48(3):459-461.
8. Liu GZ, Lyle K & Cao J: Experiences with gossypol as a male pill. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1987a; 157(4 pt 2):1079-1082.
9. Nwoha PU & Aire TA: The effects of gossypol and chloroquine interaction on serum electrolytes of protein-malnourished rats. Contraception 1995a; 52(4):255-259.
10. Ye YX, Akera T & Ng YC: Modification of the positive inotropic effects of catecholamines, cardiac glycosides and Ca2+ by the orally active male contraceptive, gossypol, in isolated guinea pig heart. Life Sci 1989; 45(20): 1853-1861.
11. Liu GZ, Ch'iu-Hinton K, Cao J et al: Effects of potassium salt or a potassium blocker on gossypol-related hypokalemia. Contraception 1988; 37(2):111-117.
12. Shaozhen A, Guangwei J, Xiaoyun W et al: Gossypol related hypokalemia: clinicopharmacologic studies. Chin Med J 1980; 93:477-482.
13. Akingbemi BT, Rao PV & Aire TA: Chronic ethanol intake may delay the onset of gossypol-induced infertility in the male rat. Andrologia 1997; 29(4):201-207.
14. Messiha FS: Effect of gossypol on kinetics of mouse liver alcohol and aldehyde dehydrogenase. Gen Pharmac 1991; 22(4):573-576.
15. Messiha FS: Behavioral and metabolic interaction between gossypol and ethanol. Toxicol Lett 1991a; 57(2):175-181.
16. Herman DL & Smith FH: Effect of bound gossypol on the absorption of iron by rats. J Nutr 1973; 103(6):882-889.
17. Wu DF, Yu YW, Tang ZM et al: Pharmacokinetics of (+/-)-,(+)-, and (-)-gossypol in humans and dogs. Clin Pharmacol Ther 1986; 39(6):613-618.
18. Ye YX, Akera T & Ng YC: Direct actions of gossypol on cardiac muscle. Eur J Pharmacol 1987; 136(1):55-62.
19.Wagner H, Hikino H & Farnsworth NR (eds): Economic and Medicinal Plant Research. Academic Press, London, England; 1985.
20. DeSmet PAGM, Keller K, Hansel R et al (eds): Adverse Effects of Herbal Drugs 2. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany; 1993:195-208.
21. Wooley RJ: Contraception-a look forward, part II: Mifepristone and gossypol. Contraception 1991; 4:103-113.
22. Shaozhen A, Guangwei J, Xiaoyun W, et al: Gossypol related hypokalemia: clinicopharmacologic studies. Chinese Med J 1980; 93:477-482.
23. Flack MR, Pyle RG, Mullen NM et al: Oral gossypol in the treatment of metastatic adrenal cancer. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1993; 76:1019-1024.
24. Waller DP, Zaveveld LJD & Farnsworth NR: Gossypol: pharmacology and current status as a male contraceptive. In: Wagner H, Hikino H, Farnsworth NR (eds). Economic and Medicinal Plant Research. London: Academic Press 1985: 87-112.
25. DeSmet PAGM, Keller K, Hansel R et al (eds): Adverse Effects of Herbal Drugs 2. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany; 1993: 195-208.
26. Liu GZ, Lyle KC, Cao J: Clinical trial of gossypol as a male contraceptive drug. Part I. Efficacy study. Fertil Steril 1987; 48:459-461.
27. Shaozhen A, Guangwei J, Xiaoyun W et al: Gossypol related hypokalemia: clinicopharmacologic studies. Chinese Med J 1980; 93:477-82.
28. Liu GZ, Ch'iu-Hinton K, Cao J et al: Effects of potassium salt or a potassium blocker on gossypol-related hypokalemia. Contraception 1988; 37;111-117.
29. Herman DL & Smith FH: Effect of bound gossypol on the absorption of iron by rats. J Nutr 1973; 103(6):882-889.
Last Updated: 7/4/2018