Plant Extracts Show Potential in Treatment of Diabetes, Cancer

Extracts show strong activity in treatment of cervical cancer cells.

Extracts show strong activity in treatment of cervical cancer cells.

A group of Aboriginal and Indian plant extracts may prove to be an effective therapy for the management of diabetes and the treatment of cancer.

In a study published in BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, Swinburne University of Technology investigators found a number of plant species that may be useful for type 2 diabetes and its related complications, including weight gain, hypertension, and immune suppression.

The study evaluated 7 Australian Aboriginal medicinal plant extracts and 5 Indian Ayurvedic medicinal plant extracts in the treatment of diabetes. The effect of the 12 plant extracts were examined for their impact on glucose uptake and fatty tissue formation.

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

The potential anti-cancer properties of the medicinal plant extracts were also evaluated in 2 cancerous cell lines.

Among the Aboriginal plant extracts tested, Witchetty Bush and Australian sandalwood were found to stimulate glucose uptake. Meanwhile, Dead finish, Turpentine bush, and Caustic weed caused a significant decrease in fat cell accumulation.

In the Ayurvedic plant extracts, Kali musli not only increased glucose uptake, it also caused decreased fat accumulation. The extracts Vijayasar and Kalmeigh decreased fat cell accumulation.

Furthermore, Witchetty bush and Dead finish exhibited strong activity treating cervical cancer cells, according to the study.

Prior research into these extracts found that they inhibit 2 enzymes vital in carbohydrate metabolism, which effects blood sugar and diabetes. The extracts also showed an antioxidant effect.

"Australian medicinal plants are an untapped source and should be further explored as potential treatments for disease," Enzo Palombo, chair of Swinburne Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, said in a press release.