Traditional Plant Medicines as Treatments for Diabetes

  1. Caroline Day, PhD
  1. Diabetes Research Unit, Biology Division, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aston University Birmingham, United Kingdom
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to C. J. Bailey, PhD, Diabetes Research Unit, Biology Division, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET, UK.

Abstract

More than 400 traditional plant treatments for diabetes mellitus have been recorded, but only a small number of these have received scientific and medical evaluation to assess their efficacy. Traditional treatments have mostly disappeared in occidental societies, but some are prescribed by practitioners of alternative medicine or taken by patients as supplements to conventional therapy. However, plant remedies are the mainstay of treatment in underdeveloped regions. A hypoglycemic action from some treatments has been confirmed in animal models and non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients, and various hypoglycemic compounds have been identified. A botanical substitute for insulin seems unlikely, but traditional treatments may provide valuable clues for the development of new oral hypoglycemic agents and simple dietary adjuncts.

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