Plant extracts offer hope against diabetes and cancer

May 12, 2015 by Lea Kivivali, Swinburne University of Technology
Plant extracts offer hope against diabetes and cancer

Diabetes is the fastest growing metabolic disease in the world. A new study has shown that traditional Aboriginal and Indian plant extracts could be used to manage the disease and may also have potential use in cancer treatment.

Researchers from Swinburne University of Technology identified plant species that could potentially be applied in the management of type 2 diabetes and related complications of weight gain, hypertension and immune suppression.

As part of her PhD research, Dr Vandana Gulati studied seven Australian Aboriginal medicinal plants and five Indian Ayurvedic plants to determine their anti-diabetic potential.

She investigated the 12 medicinal for their effect on and adipogenesis – the formation of fatty tissue. She also investigated the potential anti-cancer activity of the extracts in two cancerous cell lines.

"We found that some of the plant extracts stimulated glucose uptake in fat cells while others reduced fat accumulation in fat cells," Dr Gulati said.

Of the traditional Aboriginal plant extracts tested, Witchetty Bush (Acacia kempeana) and Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) both stimulated glucose uptake and Dead finish (Acacia tetragonophylla), Turpentine bush (Beyeria Ieshnaultii) and Caustic weed (Euphorbia drumondii) significantly reduced fat accumulation in cells.

Among the Indian Ayurvedic plant extracts, Kali musli (Curculigo orchioides) stimulated glucose uptake as well as reduced . Vijayasar (Pterocarpus marsupium), and Kalmeigh (Andrographis paniculata) reduced accumulation in .

Furthermore, extracts of Witchetty bush and Dead finish also showed strong activity against cervical cancer cells.

A 2012 Swinburne study looked at how some of these extracts slow down two key enzymes in carbohydrate metabolism which affect blood sugar and diabetes and also found they had an antioxidant effect.

"Australian medicinal plants are an untapped source and should be further explored as potential treatments for disease," Chair of Swinburne's Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Professor Enzo Palombo, said.

Professor Palombo said studies in animals and, eventually, humans are required to take this research further.

Explore further: Plants may be key to diabetes treatment

More information: "Exploring the anti-diabetic potential of Australian Aboriginal and Indian Ayurvedic plant extracts using cell-based assays" BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015, 15:8  DOI: 10.1186/s12906-015-0524-8

Related Stories

Plants may be key to diabetes treatment

June 29, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- With the growing worldwide incidence of diabetes, a new study reveals that traditional Aboriginal and Indian plant extracts show potential for managing the disease.

How brown fat fuels up to combat type 2 diabetes and obesity

November 10, 2014
A newly identified signaling pathway that stimulates glucose uptake in brown fat cells might be useful for treating type 2 diabetes and obesity, according to a study in The Journal of Cell Biology.

Wine drinking could help you burn fat

February 6, 2015
Drinking red grape juice or wine – in moderation – could improve the health of overweight people by helping them burn fat better, according to a new study coauthored by an Oregon State University researcher.

'Healthy' fat tissue could be key to reversing type 2 diabetes

January 28, 2015
Preventing inflammation in obese fat tissue may hold the key to preventing or even reversing type 2 diabetes, new research has found.

Plant chemicals may prevent liver damage caused by fat accumulated during menopause

February 25, 2015
Women going through menopause often struggle with weight gain that results when their estrogen levels drop, and many turn to weight-loss supplements to help them shed those extra pounds. But those supplements may cause an ...

Recommended for you

Breakthrough article on mechanistic features of microRNA targeting and activity

March 23, 2018
Giovanna Brancati and Helge Grosshans from the FMI have described target specialization of miRNAs of the let-7 family. They identified target site features that determine specificity, and revealed that specificity can be ...

Boosting enzyme may help improve blood flow, fitness in elderly

March 22, 2018
As people age, their blood-vessel density and blood flow decrease, which is why it's harder to maintain muscle mass after 40 and endurance in the later decades, even with exercise. This vascular decline is also one of the ...

Scientists pinpoint cause of vascular aging in mice

March 22, 2018
We are as old as our arteries, the adage goes, so could reversing the aging of blood vessels hold the key to restoring youthful vitality?

Sulfur amino acid restriction diet triggers new blood vessel formation in mice

March 22, 2018
Putting mice on a diet containing low amounts of the essential amino acid methionine triggered the formation of new blood vessels in skeletal muscle, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. ...

Cold can activate body's 'good' fat at a cellular level, study finds

March 21, 2018
Lower temperatures can activate the body's 'good' fat formation at a cellular level, a new study led by academics at The University of Nottingham has found.

Gradual release of immunotherapy at site of tumor surgery prevents tumors from returning

March 21, 2018
A new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists suggests it may be possible to prevent tumors from recurring and to eradicate metastatic growths by implanting a gel containing immunotherapy during surgical removal ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.