Background: For centuries, humans have used medicinal plants in the management of both acute and chronic diseases. Currently, the practice of using medicinal plants to manage diseases is becoming increasingly-common; especially in medium to low-income economies where the cost of, or ease of access to orthodox medications are limitations to their effective and sustained use. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease whose prevalence continues to increase worldwide. An aspect of diabetes mellitus that causes significant morbidity is its neurological complications, which are known to be associated with an enormous economic burden and reduction in quality of life.
Objectives: While research continues to demonstrate that a wide range of plants that are indigenous to Africa have significant antihyperglycaemic properties, scientific information on the neurobehavioural and/or neuromorphological effects of these plants appear to be lacking. Also, their possible benefits in the prevention or amelioration of the neurological complications of diabetes mellitus remain generally unexamined.
Methodology: In this narrative review, we examine available scientific literature dealing with the neurobehavioural and/or neuromorphological profiles of select African plants with substantiated antihyperglycaemic properties; aiming to highlight their potential applications in the prevention and management of the neurological complications of diabetes mellitus.
Results: This review demonstrates that a number of the African plants with antidiabetic properties also exhibit central nervous system effects.
Conclusion: While the neurobehavioural and neuromorphological effects of some of these plants had been investigated in animal models of DM; their possible roles in the prevention or amelioration of the neurological complications of DM are yet to be established.