Indian herb-in-capsule shows anti-diabetic properties in mice

August 2, 2019

Plant-based medicines, including medicinal teas, have newfound popularity thanks to organic lifestyle changes. Although these “natural” sources can be used to aid chronic illnesses, the therapies/treatment must be first tested for their efficacy, dose-related toxicity, active compound delivery, as well as interactions with other drugs. In this vein, specially encapsulated Indian herbal extracts have been observed to reduce blood glucose levels in diabetic mice, even after several days.

Researchers from the non-profit American Chemical Society (ACS) wanted to safely and effectively transport the Withania coagulans (Paneer dodi) extract, used in traditional Indian medicine, to the small intestine for absorption into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, medicinal components of plant origins are often destroyed by the acidic conditions of the stomach when consumed.

However, a delivery system based on chitosan nanoparticles made from shellfish exoskeletons and coated with starch, was found to delay the release of the herbal extract under acidic conditions. The research team extracted plant steroid compounds from the W. coagulans’ berries and packaged the extract into these plant polymers for their laboratory experiment.

Diabetic mice that were fed the nanoparticles for 5 days showed about 40% lower blood glucose levels compared to their starting amounts, as insulin secretion by pancreatic cells of the mice was increased. Surprisingly, the mice showed a 60% reduction in blood glucose compared to their starting levels, 5 days after the treatment ended. The effect is suspected to be due tothe durable delivery system, which seemingly prolongs the release of its content over an extended period of time.

While many plant extracts, like W. coagulans, are bitter and unpalatable at their effective doses, their advantages for the human body far outweigh the drawbacks – the new delivery method is hoped to answer the difficult problem of effectively delivering herbal medicines into the body in a safe and controlled way.


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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