Traditional plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice


The effects on glucose homeostasis of eleven plants used as traditional treatments for diabetes mellitus were evaluated in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice. Dried leaves of agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), alfalfa (Medicago saliva), blackberry (Rubus fructicosus), celandine (Chelidonium majus), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), lady's mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris), and lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis); seeds of coriander (Coriandrum sativum); dried berries of juniper (Juniperus communis); bulbs of garlic (Allium sativum) and roots of liquorice (Glycyrhizza glabra) were studied. Each plant material was supplied in the diet (6.25% by weight) and some plants were additionally supplied as decoctions or infusions (1 g/400 ml) in place of drinking water to coincide with the traditional method of preparation. Food and fluid intake, body weight gain, plasma glucose and insulin concentrations in normal mice were not altered by 12 days of treatment with any of the plants. After administration of streptozotocin (200 mg/kg i.p.) on day 12 the development of hyperphagia, polydipsia, body weight loss, hyperglycaemia and hypoinsulinaemia were not affected by blackberry, celandine, lady's mantle or lily of the valley. Garlic and liquorice reduced the hyperphagia and polydipsia but did not significantly alter the hyperglycaemia or hypoinsulinaemia. Treatment with agrimony, alfalfa, coriander, eucalyptus and juniper reduced the level of hyperglycaemia during the development of streptozotocin diabetes. This was associated with reduced polydipsia (except coriander) and a reduced rate of body weight loss (except agrimony). Alfalfa initially countered the hypoinsulinaemic effect of streptozotocin, but the other treatments did not affect the fall in plasma insulin. The results suggest that certain traditional plant treatments for diabetes, namely agrimony, alfalfa, coriander, eucalyptus and juniper, can retard the development of streptozotocin diabetes in mice.


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Swanston-Flatt, S.K., Day, C., Bailey, C.J. et al. Traditional plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice. Diabetologia 33, 462–464 (1990).

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Key words

  • Antihyperglycaemic plants
  • glucose homeostasis
  • traditional treatments for diabetes
  • streptozotocin-diabetic mice