Researchers pitch for more studies, trials of medicinal plants for diabetes management
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New Delhi: There are at least 400 medicinal plants that can be effective in reducing the amount of sugar level in the blood, but intensive studies have been done only on 21 of them so far, say a team of researchers.

In their study titled ‘Treatment on Nature’s Lap: Use of Herbal Products in the Management of Hyperglycemia’, they also noted that “many allopathic drugs (to manage diabetes) have herbal background” and said evidence-based trials in natural products could lead to the development of “novel drugs in the modern management of diabetes”.

The study by researchers from JIPMER-Puducherry and the AIIMS-Kalyani was recently published in the World Journal of Diabetes.

“There are at least 400 medicinal plants present in nature which can be effective in reducing the amount of sugar level in the blood which is necessary to control Type-2 diabetes,” the study said.

“So far, studies have been done only on 21 herbal plants, including vijayasar, jamun, cumin, daruharidra, little gourd, bael, fenugreek, neem, amla and turmeric, which have been found to have prominent anti-hyperglycemic action,” it said.

These medicinal plants have been the basis of many drugs to manage diabetes, the researchers said after analysing data available on PubMed. They also cited examples of herbal formulations such as BGR-34 prepared by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Marketed by AIMIL Pharmaceuticals, BGR-34 contains many active compounds derived from four medicinal herbs daruharidra, gudmar, methi and vijayasar.

“Besides these, giloe and majeeth have also been added to increase immunity as well as anti-oxidants levels,” executive director at AIMIL Pharmaceuticals Dr Sanchit Sharma said.

Echoing the researchers’ views, he said that “our ancient texts on medicine and ayurveda too are rooted in nature which abounds with a range of medicinal plants”.

“Since the number of diabetic patients in India is increasing at an alarming rate, research on other herbal plants can give a new outlook to the medical field,” Sharma said.

Last year, a study by AIIMS-Delhi found that BGR-34 is effective not only in reducing sugar but obesity as well. This ayurvedic medicine also improves the body’s metabolic system.

The latest study also noted that though partial research has been conducted on eight plants such as pomegranate, shilajit, bean, tea, ginkgo biloba and saffron that have shown anti-diabetic properties, more trials are needed.

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“Interestingly, many allopathic drugs have herbal background,” the researchers noted in their study and cited the examples of allopathic drugs such as metformin for diabetes management which is obtained from the galega officinalis plant. The plant was used to manage diabetes in the 19th century in Europe, they said.

“Similarly, SGLT2 (sodium-glucose cotransporter-2), which is effective in treatment of diabetes, was manufactured after obtaining phlorizin from the bark of apple tree,” the study said, making a strong case for evidence-based trials in natural products, which, it said, is “expected to open the door for the development of novel drugs in the modern management of diabetes in the future”.

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