• medicinal plants;
  • antidiabetic;
  • hypoglycaemic;
  • antihyperglycaemic;
  • herbal remedies


Diabetes mellitus is one of the world's major diseases. It currently affects an estimated 143 million people worldwide and the number is growing rapidly. In the USA alone, about 20.8 million or 7% of the population suffer from diabetes or related complications. The estimated direct and indirect costs of diabetes exceed US$ 132 billion annually. Plant-based medicinal products have been known since ancient times, and several medicinal plants and their products (active natural principles and crude extracts) have been used to control diabetes in the traditional medicinal systems of many cultures worldwide, including those of the Asian Indians, Chinese and South Americans. A limited number of these plant species have been studied and validated for their hypoglycaemic properties using diabetic animal models and in clinical studies using human subjects. Several oral hypoglycaemic agents are the primary forms of treatment for diabetes. However, prominent side-effects of such drugs are the main reason for an increasing number of people seeking alternative therapies that may have less severe or no side-effects. Thus plant-based herbal drugs or botanicals are emerging as the primary components of holistic approaches to diabetes management. In this review, selected species that have been validated for their hypoglycaemic or antihyperglycaemic properties using laboratory diabetic animal models and in clinical trials using human subjects, and reported in refereed journals are presented. Copyright © 2007 Society of Chemical Industry