Background: Worldwide, Type 2 diabetes has become a growing health problem. While many
research articles in the field of ethnopharmacology have focused on the antidiabetic properties of medicinal
plant species, insufficient evidence remains regarding their therapeutic use. Studies using both in
vitro and in vivo models are necessary to evaluate various medicinal plants species, used in folk medicine,
by using scientific criteria.
Methods: This review focuses on isolated compounds from medicinal plant species that have reported
antidiabetic activity in diabetes models. Searches using MEDLINE/PUBMED and SCOPUS databases
were conducted to find articles in English on compounds isolated from plant species that have been
tested using in vivo and/or in vitro diabetes models and published between 01/01/2005 and 12/31/2015.
Results: The majority of studies involved in vitro assays that used the analysis of enzymes and receptors
to investigate the antidiabetic mechanisms of active compounds at the molecular level. Compounds that
have been reported to have important anti-diabetic activity with defined mechanisms were identified,
including quercetin, oleanolic acid, kaempferol, ursolic acid, rutin, β-sitosterol, and mangiferin.
Conclusion: This review contributes to the field of ethnopharmacology and should impact the design of
new strategies in the search of novel compounds for the treatment of diabetic conditions.