Antidiabetic plants and their active constituents

Phytomedicine. 1995 Oct;2(2):137-89. doi: 10.1016/S0944-7113(11)80059-0.


Diabetes mellitus is a debilitating and often life-threatening disease with increasing incidence in rural populations throughout the world. A scientific investigation of traditional herbal remedies for diabetes may provide valuable leads for the development of alternative drugs and therapeutic strategies. Alternatives are clearly needed because of the inability of current therapies to control all of the pathological aspects of diabetes, and the high cost and poor availability of current therapies for many rural populations, particularly in developing countries. This review provides information on more than 1200 species of plants reported to have been used to treat diabetes and/or investigated for antidiabetic activity, with a detailed review of representative plants and some of great diversity of plant constituents with hypoglycemic activity, their mechanisms of action, methods for the bioassay of hypoglycemic agents, potential toxicity problems, and promising directions for future research on antidiabetic plants. The objective of this work is to provide a starting point for programs leading to the development of indigenous botanical resources as inexpensive sources for standardized crude or purified antidiabetic drugs, and for the discovery of lead compounds for novel hypoglycemic drug development.