Relying more on herbal remedies than drugs for diabetes care

Medicinal herbs can help reduce side effects caused by chemically synthesized drugs

Diabetes, one of the most serious chronic diseases in the world, has led to various advances in the pharmaceutical, endocrinological and especially diabetological fields. Diabetes is of two types; Type 1 and Type 2. Both types depend on how the body regulates glucose. Glucose is the sugar that fuels body cells with the hormone insulin. Type 1 diabetic patients do not produce insulin at all whereas type 2 diabetic patients do not respond to insulin and do not produce enough insulin.

Most people rely on herbal medicines and supplements for some aspect of basic health care, 80% of people worldwide rely on them.

Currently, modern medicine is examining how natural sources can be used to treat and manage diabetes, either in conjunction with conventional medications or alone. For the herb to be useful and have the least adverse effects, it must be sourced and purified.

Various herbal medicines that can be adopted for diabetes management:

  • Urtica dioica L. (nettle) – As an anti-hyperglycaemic, nettle leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat diabetes.
  • Aloe vera –helps to raise blood sugar and thus can help cure diabetes.
  • Tinospora cordifolia -This herb is commonly known as Guduchi, Ayurvedic medicine in India uses T. cordifolia to treat diabetes.
  • Fenugreek– The fibers and compounds in the seeds can inhibit the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and sugar by the body, which slows the metabolism. Sugar metabolism and insulin secretion can be enhanced when consuming the seeds.
  • Ferula asafoetida– F. assafoetida gum, which contains antioxidant components, can reduce the number of free radicals in the cell, increase the production and release of insulin in type 2 diabetes and residual pancreatic cell hyperplasia, as well as the drop in blood sugar.
  • Forficat of Bauhinia– Due to its high content of polyphenol antioxidants called flavonoids, it lowers blood sugar by stimulating insulin production and stimulating the transfer of glucose through insulin-dependent pathways.

Xigduo XR, Synjardy, Glyxambi, Gluformin XL are some drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes.

According to a study provided in the Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical ResearchMetformin is the most commonly used antidiabetic drug, followed by sulfonyl urea, followed by dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors.

When using these drugs, the cost of treating diabetes is likely to escalate. The cost-effectiveness of each prescription depends not only on the duration of diabetes but also on the choice of each drug according to its therapeutic effectiveness.

To reduce the cost of the prescription, it is necessary to maintain the therapeutic effectiveness at the same time as its quality. While considering cost-effectiveness, it should be kept in mind that therapeutic efficacy should not be hampered. These drugs do not completely cure diabetes, but they are necessary to maintain glucose levels in the body. In addition, these drugs can come with various side effects. DPP-4 inhibitors are a relatively new class of diabetes drugs. For people with type 2 diabetes, these drugs are commonly prescribed as gliptins. Treating type 2 diabetes with metformin helps lower blood sugar to a safe level.

Pharmaceutical and synthetic drugs can benefit from using herbal medicines as a source of components. Medicinal herbs have no serious or potential side effects, these herbs can be used to manufacture as a whole or in combination with the chemicals.

Medicinal herbs can help reduce side effects caused by chemically synthesized drugs. Some potential benefits could include improvements in quality of life and reductions in drug-induced side effects that certainly have an economic impact. These herbs can help improve the cost effectiveness of the medicine as they can be obtained naturally from the environment and could be used for long term.

However, patenting and the absence of an active principle are the two brakes intended for the pharmaceutical company. Therefore, a process is needed to refine the substances in the extract to provide a basis for the patent process. Pharmaceutical companies focus on the synergistic effect of active ingredients. Therefore, a combination of various components to maintain diabetes can protect the patent. Thus, the development of economically less attractive active ingredients can be encouraged because they are in high medical demand.

In a nutshell, India is home to over 8000 species of medicinal plants which is a great asset to the country and diabetes is a way of life and a genetic disease that has exploded in India. The use of traditional and herbal medicines is likely to overtake chemically synthesized medicines in the long term with the help of the pharmaceutical industry.

Yashvee Vaghela, freelance writer, Bangalore

Alvin J. Chase