Glycaemic effects of traditional European plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice

Diabetes Res. 1989 Feb;10(2):69-73.


Twelve plants used for the traditional treatment of diabetes mellitus in northern Europe were studied using normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice to evaluate effects on glucose homeostasis. The plants were administered in the diet (6.25% by weight) and/or as decoctions or infusions in place of drinking water, to coincide with the traditional method of preparation. Treatment for 28 days with preparations of burdock (Arctium lappa), cashew (Anacardium occidentale), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), elder (Sambucus nigra), fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), guayusa (Ilex guayusa), hop (Humulus lupulus), nettle (Urtica dioica), cultivated mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), sage (Salvia officinale), and wild carrot (Daucus carrota) did not affect the parameters of glucose homeostasis examined in normal mice (basal plasma glucose and insulin, glucose tolerance, insulin-induced hypoglycaemia and glycated haemoglobin). After administration of streptozotocin (200 mg/kg) burdock and nettle aggravated the diabetic condition, while cashew, dandelion, elder, fenugreek, hop, periwinkle, sage and wild carrot did not significantly affect the parameters of glucose homeostasis studied (basal glucose and insulin, insulin-induced hypoglycaemia, glycated haemoglobin and pancreatic insulin concentration). Guayusa and mushroom retarded the development of hyperglycaemia in streptozotocin diabetes and reduced the hyperphagia, polydipsia, body weight loss, and glycated haemoglobin. Mushroom also countered the initial reduction in plasma insulin and the reduction in pancreatic insulin concentration, and improved the hypoglycaemic effect of exogenous insulin. These studies suggest the presence of potentially useful antidiabetic agents in guayusa and mushroom.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basidiomycota
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / therapy*
  • Diet*
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Mice
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Reference Values


  • Blood Glucose