Diabetes is a disease which happens due to some physiological disorder, i.e. metabolic disorder. It occurs as a result of lack of insulin or a surplus of insulin antagonists, leading to a relative insulin lack. According to WHO, India has the largest number of diabetes in the world hovering between 25 to 30 million. In the coming years, India is projected to have more than 37 million diabetics by 2010 and over 57 million in 2025 In India, the earliest mention of the use of medicinal plants has been made in the Atharva Veda, one of the oldest repositories of human knowledge. As far back as 4,000 BC and even earlier, Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu art of medicines and of prolonging life, has been believed to possess a status of its development. The whole credit for standardizing this system of medicines goes to well known, renowned personalities viz., Charak, the Physician and Sushruta, the Surgeon. Their well noted works written so long ago that these are still greeted by the leading authorities of the western countries. However, the contribution of Dhanwantri, the pioneer God of Medicine, destroyer of senility, disease and death descended on the Mother Earth, cannot be ruled out. He was, infact, teacher of Susruta and his other colleagues and is known as Progenitor of Ayurveda. Medicinal plants not only play an important role in human life but also play a pivotal role in animal life, especially in rural areas. Rural people of India living in about 6 lakh villages and the tribal dwelling in forests always utilize medicinal plants for preventing and curing various ailments and diseases. However, in the present write-up, a role of a few medicinal plants has been detailed with regard to cure diabetes.
10 Ethnomedicinal Herbs Used For Diabetes
In many parts of the developing countries of the world more than 80 per cent of people depend on traditional medicines. There are many medicinal plants that have potential for treating the symptoms of diabetes and are generally regarded as safe.
1. Bel (Aegle marmelos): The plant comes from Rutaceae family. Fresh leaf extract (10 to 15 ml) of this plant/tree is taken thrice daily (morning, noon and night) for a month.
2. Neem (Azadirachta indica): This species belongs to family Meliaceae. Use of neem, reduces glucose level, reduces infections which is caused due to slow healing, improves the normal tone of an organ and regularises all biological processes. Its fresh leaf extract (10 to 20 ml) is taken once in the morning during empty stomach. Alternatively, 10-12 leaves of neem are boiled in a cup of water for 5 to 10 minutes. The liquid is then strained and taken daily.
3. Aam (Mango) (Mangifera indica) : The family of this tree is Anacardiaceae. It repairs the activity of pancreas, improves insulin secretion, destroys intestinal worms and regularizes all biological processes. The tender leaves are proved beneficial for diabetes. An infusion is prepared by soaking 15 g of fresh leaves in 250 ml of water overnight, and squeezing them well in the water in the morning. About 100 ml of the filtrate should be taken every morning to control early diabetes. Alternatively, leaves are dried in the shade, powdered and preserved for use whenever it becomes necessary. About 4- g of this powder is taken once daily in empty stomach or half a teaspoon of this powder should be taken twice daily.
4. Jamun (Syzygium cumini): It controls pathological conversion of starch into glucose, repairs activity of pancreas, regularises all biological processes, helps in active movement of bowels and reduces glucose level. To treat diabetes, Jamun tree's (Myrtaceae family) seed powder (2 to 4 g) is taken thrice a day (morning, afternoon and night). Alternatively, fresh leaf extract (5 to 10 ml) of the tree can be taken twice a day (morning and night). The inner bark of the Jamun tree is also used in the treatment of diabetes. The bark, after drying is burnt to produce white ash. This is then pestled in mortar, strained and kept in a bottle. About 10 g of this ash should be given to the diabetic patients during empty stomach with water in the morning, and 20 g in afternoon and evening (10 g each), an hour after taking meals. An equal quantity of Jamun, amla and bitter gourd powder makes a very useful remedy for diabetes. A teaspoon of this mixture once or twice a day has proved very effective in controlling the progress of the disease.
5. Bitter gourd (Momordica charantia) : Bitter gourd (Karela) or bitter melon has been known to reduce glucose level by improving peripheral glucose uptake. It also regenerates the activity of pancreas. This vegetable should, therefore, be included in the diet of the diabetic patients. For getting good results, the diabetic patients should take its juice every morning on empty stomach. For this purpose, about four or five bitter gourds are taken, and after peeling, their juice is extracted. The seeds of bitter gourd can be added to food in a powdered form. Diabetics can also use biter gourd in the form of decoction by boiling its pieces in water or in the form of dry powder.
6. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graceum) : Its use helps in stimulating and enhancing insulin secretion and, thereby, reducing the blood glucose. It also improves glucose oxidation and reduces cholesterol level. The seeds of fenugreek have been found effective in the treatment of diabetes. Fenugreek seeds when given in the range of 25 to 100 g daily, assist in diminishing hyperglycaemia in diabetic patients. Levels of glucose, serum cholesterol and triglycerides also get reduced significantly when the seeds of fenugreek are given to the diabetic patients.
7. Sahanjna or Munga (Moringa oleifera) : Belonging to the family of Moringaceae, the root decoction of the tree (5 to 10 ml) is taken twice daily i.e. during morning and evening hours.
8. Giloy or Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia): The plant is a climber and belongs to Menispermaceae. The stem of Giloy about 30 to 40 g and amla fruit 25 g. are boiled together. The decoction 50 ml.with a pinch of turmeric powder is taken twice daily.
9. Pipal (Ficus bengalensis) : Use of bark of this tree has been found very useful in reducing glucose level in the blood. It also improves the normal tone of an organ. Grind dry bark to get powder. Take half teaspoon powder once daily for 3-4 days.
10. Karanj (Pongamia pinnata): belongs to the family Fabaceae. Its flowers (100 to 150 g) are boiled to obtain a decoction. The decoction (50 to 60 ml) is taken orally once daily in empty stomach.
1. Ex-Associate Dean,
Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (J), 39-Dhakki Sarajan, Jammu 180001 (J&K)
2. MBBS, MS (Ophthalmology), presently doing Fellowship (Ophthalmology), Surya Eye Medical Institute, Nagpur