Submitted to: Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/2/2005
Publication Date: 11/15/2005
Citation: Mentreddy, S., Mohamed, A.I., Rimando, A.M. 2005. Medicinal plants with hypoglycemic/anti-hyperglycemic properties: a review. Proceedings: Association for the Advancement of Industrial Crops Conference. 20: 341-353. Interpretive Summary: Diabetes is one of the major diseases affecting millions of people worldwide. In the USA, about 6.3% of the population suffers from diabetes or related complications. Several plant species have been used for prevention or managing diabetes by the Native Americans, Chinese, South Americans, and Asian Indians. Among these plants garlic, onion, aloe, gray nicker bean, jamun, gurmar, bitter melon, cowhage, red and green holy basil, kino, Indian gentian, java plum, and blue fenugreek are considered the most effective and more extensively studied. The glucose lowering activity of these plants including a few that have been adapted in North America, such as prickly pear, rosemary, sweet basil, and noni is reviewed.
Technical Abstract: Diabetes mellitus is one of the major diseases currently affecting an estimated 143 million people worldwide and the number is growing rapidly. In the USA, about 18.2 million or 6.3% of the population suffer from diabetes or related complications. Diabetes is an epidemic among African Americans in general and Native Americans in particular. The estimated direct and indirect costs of diabetes exceed $132 billion annually. Some of the major reasons for the increasing rate of Type 2 diabetes also called non-insulin dependent diabetes are stress, and lack of proper diet and physical exercise. Plant-based medicinal products have been known since ancient times. About 800 plant species have been reported to possess antidiabetic properties. Several plant species have been used for prevention or managing diabetes by the Native Americans, Chinese, South Americans, and Asian Indians. A limited number of medicinal plant species have been studied and validated for their hypoglycemic properties using laboratory diabetic animal models and in clinical studies using human subjects. Several medicinal plants and their products (active, natural principles, and crude extracts) have been reported in literature as having been used to control diabetes in the Indian traditional system of medicine called ‘Ayurveda’. Among these species, Allium cepa, Allium sativum, Aloe vera, Coccinia indica, Caesalpinia bonducella, Eugenia jambolana, Ficus bengalenesis, Gymnema sylvestre, Momordica charantia, Mucuna pruriens, Ocimum sanctum syn. tenuiflorum, Pterocarpus marsupium, Swertia chirayita, Syzygium cumini, Tinospora cordifolia, and Trigonella foenum-graecum are considered the most effective and more extensively studied in relation to diabetes and their complications. Additionally, limited number of plant species, some adapted to North America, such as prickly pear (Opuntia robusta), Rosmarinus officinalis, Ocimum gratissimum, and noni (Morinda citrifolia) have been evaluated for their hypoglycemic properties using laboratory animal models in western countries. Several oral hypoglycemic agents are the primary forms of treatment of diabetes. However, prominent side-effects of such drugs is the main reason for an increasing number of people seeking alternative therapies that may have less severe or no side-effects. Thus, plant based herbal drugs or botanicals are emerging as the primary components of holistic approaches to diabetes management. In this review, selected species that have been validated for their hypoglycemic or antihyperglycemic properties using laboratory diabetic animal models and in clinical trials using human subjects, and published in refereed journals are presented.