WHAT IS HERBAL MEDICINE?
Herbal medicine, based on therapeutic ingredients found in plants, is practised in every culture worldwide. It is estimated that herbal preparations are used by 75% of the world’s population today, and various mainstream medicines ranging from heart medication to morphine are made using ingredients derived from plants.
Our purpose is to be a global facilitator of health and wellness through access, education and advancement of Traditional & Complementary Medicine (T&CM). The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that lifestyle-related diseases (or non-communicable diseases) are responsible for more than 70% of deaths worldwide each year.
Knowledge represents empowerment. By sharing this evidence-based, peer-reviewed research, we aim to support everyday people to take ownership of their wellness, by making informed decisions and choices in conjunction with their health professional.
How This Study Could Help You Manage Type 2 Diabetes
The number of people with diabetes worldwide was estimated by the WHO to be 422 million in 2014, compared to an estimated 108 million in 1980 – an increase of almost 400%. This review investigates the potential of sweet broomweed (Scoparia dulcis), a traditional medicinal herb, for supporting the treatment of type 2 diabetes and possibly other conditions. It is titled:
ANTIDIABETIC PROPERTIES, BIOACTIVE CONSTITUENTS, AND OTHER THERAPEU- TIC EFFECTS OF SCOPARIA DULCIS.
You can read the full study here: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2016/8243215/
Why Is This Study Important?
Diet and exercise are important aspects of managing type 2 diabetes, but for many people, medication is also required to help them control the proportion of sugar in their blood (or blood glucose level). Chronically high levels of blood glucose are associated with damage to the eyes, kidneys and nervous system.
As well as having decreased sensitivity to the insulin that does get secreted naturally, many people with type 2 diabetes are not able to produce as much insulin in the pancreas as they need. Pharmaceutical medications for diabetes can work in several ways: they may inhibit enzymes used in digestion, resulting in lower levels of sugar in the blood; they may stimulate the pancreas to secrete more insulin; and they may reduce the body’s insulin resistance.
Long-term use of conventional medication has been associated with an increased risk of diabetes-related complications, as well as other side effects. Herbal remedies, on the other hand, may offer advantages such as a “lower incidence of side effects at recommended dosages”, as well as potentially being cheaper and more accessible to low-income populations.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, and is another result of the disease. It may lead to chronic inflammation of blood vessels, and worsen insulin resistance. This is why finding ways to reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are important for reducing complications associated with diabetes
What Does This Mean For My Wellness?
Due to the various bioactive ingredients found in sweet broomweed, this one herb may have similar implications for managing diabetes as several different types of pharmaceutical medicine.
The traditional history of broomweed being used for treating diabetes in several cultures suggests it may be a safe way of supplementing conventional treatment. However, clinical trials on people are still needed to investigate how effectively extracts from the herb may replace different conventional medicines.
The ability to use herbal extracts for supporting the management for type 2 diabetes may be particularly valuable in developing countries, where the cost of medication is a “significant economic burden”.
Its pain-relieving and sedating effects may also offer people an alternative to pharmaceutical medications such as opioids, which can be costly as well as being associated with adverse effects such as dependence.
How Does This Relate to Herbal Medicine?
Traditional herbal medicines are often the basis for the development of pharmaceutical drugs, one of which is an antidiabetic medication called metformin, developed from French lilac (Galega officinalis). Metformin is on the WHO’s list of essential medicines, which identifies “the most efficacious, safe and cost-effective medicines for priority conditions”.
Sweet broomweed is a herb that has been used as a traditional medicine to treat diabetes in Sri Lanka, India, China and Brazil. It has also been used by other cultures for therapeutic purposes ranging from neutralising snake venom to managing sickle-cell anaemia.
In this article, published in 2016, researchers affiliated with the University of Sri Lanka reviewed studies into the active ingredients of broomweed, and how these may be beneficial for managing diabetes as well as other health conditions. They suggested that different compounds extracted from the plant may support the management of diabetes “through multiple biochemical pathways” and “numerous mechanisms of action”.
Key Findings About Herbal Medicine for Helping Manage Type 2 Diabetes
- There is a body of work reviewing the therapeutic properties of broomwood, as well as the effectiveness of the extracts in various formulas.
- The results of lab experiments quoted in this review indicate that compounds extracted from this herb into a water-based solution may have similar mechanisms of action as several types of antidiabetic medication. These include a glucose uptake effect similar to that of insulin, which the researchers suggest “may be partly responsible for its antidiabetic activity”.
- Compounds found in broomweed are also reported to have a similar (but more potent) effect to a pharmaceutical drug called acarbose for helping moderate the level of blood glucose. They may also increase insulin sensitivity in a similar way to pharmaceutical medicines called thiazolidinediones (TZDs).
- Laboratory experiments have suggested that an extract of the plant may stimulate insulin production in pancreatic cells.
- Broomweed is reported to have antioxidant and anti- inflammatory qualities which can be important for reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications associated with “oxidative stress and elevated inflammatory levels”.
- The authors also cited studies indicating that broomweed may have a range of other therapeutic benefits, including antifungal and antibacterial effects, and possible applications for pain relief, sedation, and as a liver tonic.
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine seeks to apply scientific rigor to the study of complementary and alternative medicine, emphasizing on health outcome, while documenting biological mechanisms of action.
Quoted from journal description
Diabetes | World Health Organization
Antidiabetic Properties, Bioactive Constituents, and Other Therapeutic Effects of Scoparia dulcis | Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Hyperglycaemia in diabetes | mydr.com.au
Herbal Medicine | souladvisor.com
Model List of Essential Medicines | World Health Organization
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