A Review on Natural Products for Controlling Type 2 Diabetes with an Emphasis on their Mechanisms of Actions
Mohsen Salimifar, Zahra Fatehi-Hassanabad and Mohammad Fatehi
Affiliation: Department of Pharmacology, Alberta Diabetes Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, 6-126 Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1.
Keywords: Alternative and complementary medicine, Anti-hyperglycemic, Anti-inflammation, Natural product, Type 2
The use of natural products is very common among non-industrialized societies because these remedies are
more accessible and affordable than modern pharmaceuticals. In developed countries, use of herbal products has recently
increased as scientific evidence about their effectiveness has become broadly available. For the past two decades many research
articles in the field of ethno-pharmacology have focused on the anti-diabetic effects of some natural products. This
dramatic increase of interest was partly due to the fact that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) was considered as becoming
a global epidemic health problem which imposed high cost to national health services around the world. We have no intention
to advocate for replacing conventional pharmacotherapy with natural products to prevent and control T2DM.
However, the fact that a lack of highly effective drug-therapy with existing synthetic agents and their resulting adverse effects
motivated further search into traditional medicine in order to re-evaluate old remedies as well as screening to find
new natural entities to be used as anti-diabetic products cannot be ignored. Some recent reports on the natural products
with anti-diabetic effects have provided evidence for possible mechanisms of action. Nonetheless, the majority of investigators
only speculated on a wide range of possible mechanisms or simply demonstrated an anti-hyperglycemic effect for
the crude plant extracts or the isolated compounds of interest. A few reviews with less attention paid to mechanisms of action
have been published on medicinal plants and diabetes. This article reviews publications on anti-diabetic natural products
that have appeared in PUBMED or other research-related literature found on the Internet (from 1990 to present) to
categorize them based on their mechanisms of action. We hope that this communication will be beneficial as a starting
point to consider the discussed products for further investigations to identify and develop new remedies with potential alternative
or complementary use in controlling T2DM.
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