Indian medicinal herb may control high blood sugar and diabetes, finds study
Ayurvedic herbal extracts of Withania coagulans, or Paneer dodi, packaged in polymers derived from natural substances can reduce high blood sugar levels in diabetic mice. The authors of the study reported their results in ACS Omega. Extracts of the herb are used in traditional Indian medicine.
Presently, there is a growing interest in herbal remedies due to the side effects associated with the oral hypoglycemic agents for the treatment of diabetes mellitus. So the traditional herbal medicines are mainly used which are obtained from plants in the management of diabetes mellitus.In recent years, herbal medicines have started to gain importance as a source of hypoglycemic agents. Marles and Farnsworth estimated that more than 1000 plant species are being used as a folk medicine for diabetes.
From the berries of W. coagulans, the team extracted plant steroid compounds that increased insulin secretion by mouse pancreatic cells in a dish. The researchers encapsulated the steroids in chitosan nanoparticles made from shellfish exoskeletons and coated the particles with starch, which delayed the release of the herbal extract under acidic conditions.
Finally, diabetic mice that were fed the nanoparticles for 5 days showed about 40% lower blood sugar levels compared to their starting amounts. Surprisingly, even 5 days after the treatment ended, the mice showed a 60% reduction in blood sugar compared to their starting levels. This effect could arise from the ability of the delivery system to prolong the release of extract over an extended period of time, the researchers say.
Alternative medicines are becoming increasingly popular for the treatment of chronic illness, primarily because of people's perception that plant-based medicines are less toxic and have fewer side effects. However, this is not always the case, and even so-called "natural" therapies must be carefully tested for efficacy, dose-related toxicity, and interactions with other drugs.
In addition, scientists must find ways to effectively deliver medicines into the body in controlled ways. Many plant extracts, like W. coagulans, are bitter and unpalatable at the doses needed to have beneficial effects. Also, when taken orally, the medicinal components in plant extracts are often destroyed by the acidic conditions of the stomach. That's why to Say Chye Joachim Loo and colleagues wanted to find a way to encapsulate W. coagulans extract in a delivery system based on natural components that could safely transport the extract to the small intestine, where the cargo would be released and absorbed.