Hypoglycemic effects of some Kenyan Plants used traditionally in the Management of Diabetes mellitus in Gachoka Division, Mbeere district
Njagi, Joan Murugi
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Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disorder caused by inherited and/or acquired deficiency in production of insulin by the pancreas or by the ineffectiveness of the insulin produced by the target cells. Diabetes mellitus is characterized by high levels of glucose in blood, which in turn damages many of the body systems particularly the blood vessels and nerves. There are two forms of diabetes mellitus: type I diabetes mellitus and type II diabetes mellitus. Most conventional therapies for the management of type 2 diabetes include oral hypoglycemic drugs, exercise, diet and physical intervention therapies such as Acupuncture. Insulin is used in the management of type 1 diabetes mellitus. Insulin and oral hypoglycemic drugs are expensive and have numerous side effects. Through ages different communities have used medicinal herbs for diabetes mellitus management. Today herbal remedies are gaining popularity because the efficacy of conventional medicine is on the wane. This study was designed to bioscreen 7 aqueous medicinal plant extracts traditionally used to manage diabetes mellitus and assess their safety. Ethnobotanical and pharmacological information on the seven plants was gathered from the traditional healers. The plants collected from Mbeere district of Eastern province were Caesalpinia volkensu, Vernonia lasiopus, Carissa eduhs, Ficuv sycomorus, Kleinia squarrosa, Azadirachta indica and Helichrysum odoratissimum. All of them showed appreciable degree of hypoglycemic activity. Analysis of these plants the for presence of trace elements showed that they contained varying amounts of Magnesium, Iron, Nickel Copper, Zinc, Strontium Molybdenum, Lead, Manganese, Chromium and Vanadium. Nickel and Strontium were present in one plant extract, two plant extracts had Manganese, and four plants extracts had Molybdenum. Chromium and Copper were present in six plant extracts and all the seven plants contained Iron, Lead and Magnesium. All plant extracts had undetectable quantities of Vanadium. 4f the phytochemicals tested in the seven plants extracts, one plant had bound antraquinones, two had alkaloids, sterol and triterpenes; three had saponins, four had flavonoids, and five had flavonols, flavones chalcones and tannins. Free antraquinones were not present in any plant extract. Trace elements and phytochemical are associated with both the blood glucose lowering effect and toxicity. Toxicity of single plant extracts is reduced by the practice of using a combination of different plants extracts by the traditional healers. The study has established that the plants under study are effective and safe as antidiabetic medicines.