Thu. May 26th, 2022

Traditional medicinal plants used for the treatment of diabetes

About the disease

Diabetes or Diabetes Mellitus as referred to by Doctors describes a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (Blood Sugar). Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not produce or utilise insulin. High blood glucose levels over time lead to an increased deposit of fatty materials on the insides of the blood vessel walls. The deposits may affect blood flow, increasing the chance of clogging and hardening of blood vessels. Diabetes treatment is very important at the very onset or else it can lead to other complications like Renal Failure, Nerve damage, Stroke and even loss of vision(Admin 2020).

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a serious metabolic disorder which causes blood glucose to rise in blood streams abnormally emanating from the difficulty in insulin secretion, its action or the two. The absence of effective modern treatments, the lifelong treatment with modern medicine their associated health side effects and their expensive prices etc. are among the challenging existing realities which devastate/worsen the health and economic burdens of the disease, especially in developing nations. In light of these, the search for cheaper, safe and potential drugs from medicinal plants is very crucial(Meresa et al. 2017).

Diabetic mellitus prevalence rise globally and will expected to reach 642 million by 2040. Lifestyle change, consume carbohydrate rich dish and overweight are the main factors contribute for the growth number of diabetic patient(Meresa et al. 2017).

The biggest problem with diabetes is that nearly One-half of the people are not aware of the fact that they have diabetes and as such do not go in for Diabetes Treatment at the right time. Uncontrolled diabetes can wreak havoc on the heart. In fact, those who have Diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease. This can lead to heart attacks and result in the death of a person. An estimated five million people died of diabetes in 2015 alone(Admin 2020).

It is, therefore, utmost important to take care of your health especially past the age of 40. Regular Health Checkups should be undertaken to detect the possibility of diseases at an early stage and go in for Diabetes Treatment if required. Diabetes is not at all life-threatening if detected at an early age and addressed accordingly.It can be easily controlled or kept within limits to avoid any potential damage to the body(Admin 2020).

Diabetes mellitus is a complicated health condition with multiple causes and many treatment options. Various myths may influence diabetics’ health-seeking behavior, and they may use traditional medicines, which include normal foods and herbs, for primary health care(Kasole, Martin, and Kimiywe 2019).

Scholarly Suggested Medicinal Plants

According to (Meresa et al. 2017) the plant Stevia rebaudiana, the product has been added to tea and coffee, cooked or baked goods, processed foods, beverages and used safely in herbal medicines, tonics, for diabetes and in the daily usage products like mouthwashes and toothpastes35. It can be used in chocolates and candies for diabetes and tooth decay. A study showed that both the aqueous and 70% ethanolic leaf extracts of Stevia rebaudiana resulted in a fall in blood glucose level in alloxan-induced diabetic mice as a function of concentration. However, the aqueous extract showed a better reduction towards blood glucose level as compared with the ethanol extract(Meresa et al. 2017). Acute toxicity conducted on overnight fasted Swiss albino mice of both sexes for three consecutive days clearly showed that no significant changes in behaviors such as alertness, motor activity, breathing, restlessness, diarrhea, convulsions, coma and appearance of the animals as well as mortality were seen up to the maximum of 5000 mg/kg doses of both solvents’ leaf extracts, indicating the non-toxic effect of plant extracts(Meresa et al. 2017).

The plant Ajuga remota Benth also used for treatment of diabetes. In the Ethiopian traditional medicine, the fresh or dried leaves of A. remota was infused with water and sometimes with Alcohol, locally called “Arekie” and the infusions were used as remedy to heal diseases such as diabetes, malaria, pain and fevers, toothache, hypertension, stomachache, pneumonia etc. The plant was found to have most of the traditionally claimed activities including antiviral activity against Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1, (HIV- 1) and Type 2 (HIV-2), antipyretic, antifeedant, antihypertensive, insecticidal, antifungal, antimalarial activities. Sometimes honey is added in to the preparation to make it palatable, since it has a bitter taste, and to store for longer periods for later use. A study showed that both the aqueous and 70% ethanolic leaf extracts of the plant resulted in a fall in blood glucose level in alloxan-induced diabetic mice as a function of concentration. However, the aqueous extract showed a better reduction towards blood glucose level as compared with the ethanol extract(Meresa et al. 2017).

The plant Croton macrostachys also showed significant role in lowering blood glucose sugar. Several ethno botanical studies done on different parts of Ethiopia have reported the medicinal uses of the plant for the management of malaria, skin diseases, urinary retention, intestinal parasites, hepatitis, amoebas and bronchitis. According to a study, the hydro alcoholic root extract of C. macrostachys had shown a significant blood glucose lowering effect and improved glucose tolerance after administration of oral glucose solution. It is reported that the crude extract has maximum pharmacological effect at the dose of 300 mg/ kg and it is comparable with the standard drug glibenclamide(Meresa et al. 2017). Results of toxicity study on experimental mice for the first 24 hrs as well as 14 consecutive days indicated that the root extract of Croton macrostachys did not result in mortality as well as Physical and behavioral signs on the test subjects at 2000 mg and 5000 mg doses of the extract per kg of B.W. This shows the plant extract is safe up to the maximum dose being administered(Meresa et al. 2017).

In total 37 medicinal plants belonging to 25 families were reported as being used for the treatment of diabetes in Bangladesh. The most frequently mentioned plants were Coccinia indica, Azadirachta indica, Trigonella foenum-graecum, Syzygium cumini, Terminalia chebula, Ficus racemosa, Momordica charantia, Swietenia mahagoni(Ocvirk et al. 2013).

The most mentioned medicinal plant, Coccinia indica,was also most prevalently used in the diabetic patients group highlighting its prominent role in herbal treatment of diabetes in the study area(Ocvirk et al. 2013).

List of Medicinal Plants Suggested by (Ocvirk et al. 2013)

Botanical name (Voucher specimen ID)FamilyLocal NamePlant parts usedStage of maturityFrequency of citation
Achyranthes aspera L. (BD-01)AmaranthaceaeUpat LengraRoot, whole plantM0.85
Adiantum capillus-veneris L. (BD-02)AdiantaceaeHanglapudi, GobalelotaSeedM0.85
Allium sativum L. (BD-03)AmaryllidaceaeRôsunRoot, whole plantM1.69
Andrographis paniculata Wall. ex Nees (BD-04)AcanthaceaeKālmeghLeaf, whole plantM0.85
Asparagus racemosus L. (BD-05)AsparagaceaeSotomuliRootM, F1.69
Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (BD-06)MeliaceaeNeemBark, leaf, seedM, F8.47
Bunium persicum Bois. (BD-07)ApiaceaeKalo JeeraSeed, whole plantM1.69
Centella asiatica L. (BD-08)ApiaceaeThankuniLeafM0.85
Coccinia indica W.&A. (BD-09)CucurbitaceaeKundri, TelachukaFruit, leaf, root, whole plantM, F, Pm16.95
Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. (BD-10)PoaceaeDurbaLeaf, whole plantM, F1.69
Datura stramonium L. (BD-11)SolanaceaeDhoturaSeedM0.85
Eclipta alba L. (BD-12)AsteraceaeBringoraj, KalokeshiLeafM0.85
Ficus benghalensis L. (BD-13)MoraceaeBot, Kathali Pata BotLeafM, F1.69
Ficus racemosa L. (BD-14)MoraceaeJoiggidumurBark, fruitM, Pm4.24
Gymnema sylvestre R. Br. (BD-15)AsclepiadaceaeMedhasingi, GorsharWhole plantM0.85
Heliotropium indicum L. (BD-16)BoraginaceaeHatisurLeafM0.85
Hemidesmus indicus L. R. Br. (BD-17)ApocynaceaeAnantomulRootF0.85
Lagerstroemia speciosa (L.) Pers. (BD-18)LythraceaeJarulLeafM2.54
Mangifera indica L. (BD-19)AnacardiaceaeAamSeedM0.85
Mimosa pudica L. (BD-20)FabaceaeLojjaboti, Sada LojjabotiWhole plantM0.85
Momordica charantia L. (BD-21)CucurbitaceaeKôrolaFruit, leaf, whole plantM, F4.24
Musa sapientum L. (BD-22)MusaceaeKôlaFruitM0.85
Ocimum sanctum L. (BD-23)LamiaceaeKrisno Tulshi, Kalo TulshiWhole plantM, F0.85
Phyllanthus emblica L. (BD-24)PhyllanthaceaeAmlokiFruit, seed, whole plantM, F3.39
Swertia chirata L. (BD-25)GentianaceaeChirotaRoot0.85
Swietenia mahagoni Jacq. (BD-26)MeliaceaeMahoganySeedM, F4.24
Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels (BD-27)MyrtaceaeJamLeaf, seedM, F7.63
Tamarindus indica L. (BD-28)FabaceaeTetulSeedM1.69
Terminalia arjuna W.&A. (BD-29)CombretaceaeArjunSeedM0.85
Terminalia bellirica L. (BD-30)CombretaceaeBohera, Jonglee BoheraSeedM, F3.39
Terminalia chebula Retz. (BD-31)CombretaceaeHoritukiSeedM, F5.08
Tinospora cordifolia Hook. F. & Thoms. (BD-32)MenispermaceaeGulancha lotaBark, leaf, root, whole plantM3.39
Trigonella foenum-graecum L. (BD-33)FabaceaeMethiSeed, whole plantM, F8.47
Vernonia anthelmintica Willd. (BD-34)AsteraceaeSomrajWhole plantM0.85
Vinca rosea L. (BD-35)ApocynaceaeGolapi NoyontaraLeafF0.85
Vitex negundo L. (BD-36)LamiaceaeNirgundi, Nishinda, SamaluLeafM0.85
Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal (BD-37)SolanaceaeAswagandhaLeaf, root, whole plantM, F2.54

One hundred five plant species claiming to have anti-diabetic activity were reported (Meresa et al. 2017) study. Moringa stenoptela, Allium sativum, Caylusea abyssinica, Ajuga remota, Calpurnia aurea, and Psidium guajava are among them which are the most frequently mentioned medicinal plant species. Only few numbers of medicinal plants were scientifically evaluated for their anti-diabetic effects in animal models in the countries, whereas the majority of them are not yet evaluated. Next to leaf, root is the second most frequently employed part in the anti-diabetic herbal preparations(Meresa et al. 2017).


Traditional medicinal plants are commonly used in Bangladesh to treat diabetes. The available data regarding the anti-diabetic activity of the detected plants is not sufficient to adequately evaluate or recommend their use. Clinical intervention studies are required to provide evidence for a safe and effective use of the identified plants in the treatment of diabetes(Ocvirk et al. 2013).

The available clinical data suggesting anti-diabetic activ- ity of plants identified in this survey is limited. Most of the clinical studies lacked sufficient sample size, ran- domized controlled study design or revealed only low anti-diabetic efficacy following the treatment with plants. In this context, it is also questionable to what extent the numerous anti-diabetic effects of plants and their ex- tracts found in experimental animal and in vitro studies can be extrapolated to human settings. Out of the identi- fied 37 plants used for the treatment of diabetes in Bangladesh only a few were shown to eventually exert anti-diabetic activity in clinical studies(Ocvirk et al. 2013).

The prevalence of diabetes mellitus carries on escalating all over the World and no effective treatments that can manage diabetes have ever been discovered till present. Medication with commercial oral hypoglycemic drugs is getting very difficult due their expensive costs and associated adverse side effects on the health of the patient. Hence, the search for effective and safe drugs from the available medicinal plants should be consolidated in order to alleviate the above mentioned problems. Moreover, the indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants has to be documented in order to initiate or motivate interested researchers to find out anti-diabetic promising candidate drug from folk medicine that might cure or manage the cases and enable self-reliance in the future(Meresa et al. 2017).


Admin. 2020. “Medilife.” Medy Life.

Kasole, Rose, Haikael D. Martin, and Judith Kimiywe. 2019. “Traditional Medicine and Its Role in the Management of Diabetes Mellitus: ‘Patients’’ and Herbalists’ Perspectives”.’” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2019.

Meresa, Asfaw et al. 2017. “Herbal Medicines for the Management of Diabetic Mellitus in Ethiopia and Eretria Including Their Phytochemical Constituents.” American Journal of Advanced Drug Delivery 05(01).

Ocvirk, Soeren et al. 2013. “Traditional Medicinal Plants Used for the Treatment of Diabetes in Rural and Urban Areas of Dhaka, Bangladesh – an Ethnobotanical Survey.” Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 9(1): 1. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.

By Chala Dandessa

Name: Chala Dandessa. I was born in West Shewa Zone, Chobi District of Oromia Region, Ethiopia in 1989. Currently I am Lecturer at Jimma Teachers College.

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