Having fewer adverse effects than synthetic chemicals or drugs, the use of traditional medicinal plants is still of great importance in healthcare. With this in mind, researchers from Palestine recently discovered the potential for some regional edible wild plants to be used in the treatment of diabetes.
By Mohammed Hawash
Herbal medicine is considered to be one of the most important and popular branches of traditional medicine and has been used by humans for thousands of years. Today, it is often used to complement conventional medical treatments or even as an independent alternative.
Research has shown that medicinal herbs can help in treating one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide: diabetes mellitus. Therapeutic agents that are currently available for diabetes include insulin and various oral anti-diabetic drugs, most of which have a number of harmful side effects. For this reason, the investigation into safer and more effective hypoglycemic (blood sugar-lowering) medications has become an essential area of research.
A recent study, published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, aimed to evaluate the anti-diabetic activity of several traditional edible and medicinal wild plants from Palestine. To do so, researchers from An-Najah National University in Nablus analyzed seven species for their ability to inhibit the activity of alpha-amylase – a digestive enzyme that breaks down complex carbohydrates into smaller sugar molecules. Blocking the enzyme prevents the absorption of sugar and thus helps to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
The researchers ultimately found the “black calla” (Arum palaestinum) as well as “Iberian knapweed” (Centaurea iberica) and Sisymbrium irio, also known as “London Rocket”, to display the highest anti-diabetic activity.
Dr. Mohammed Hawash commented on the findings: “These leaves have the potential to be used as efficient regular supplements”. According to the researchers, further investigations are now required to isolate pure pharmacological molecules and to design suitable pharmaceutical dosage forms.
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