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the Function Herb Which Processes Anti Diabetes Activity, Scientists Say

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By Kyle J. Norton, Master of Nutrition

Herbal Alfalfa may be considered a functional herb for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes, some scientists found.

Diabetes is a medical and chronic condition characterized by insufficient insulin entering the bloodstream to regulate the levels of blood glucose.

Some researchers suggested that the condition is either caused by the death of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas as a result of toxic imbalance of a molecule secreted by other pancreatic cells or receptor sites clogged up by fat and cholesterol due to long-term unhealthy diet with high in saturated and trans fats and less in fruits of vegetables.

In the explanation of what causes the death of beta cells in the pancreas, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio wrote, “We found that glutamate, a major signaling molecule in the brain and pancreas, is secreted together with glucagon by alpha cells and affects beta cell integrity.”

Dr. Folli said. “In a situation where there is an imbalance toward more alpha cells and fewer beta cells, as in Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, this could result in further beta cell destruction.”


What causes the structures of receptors involved in blood sugar control to clog up? some researchers suggested,  fat in the bloodstream build up inside the receptor sites, they create toxic fatty breakdown products and free radicals that blocks the insulin signaling process.


In some cases, diabetes is also caused by allergic reactions of the autoimmune disease.


The exact cause of type II diabetes is unknown. Scientists do not why people with the same health condition and family history, some are susceptible to the early onset of the disease while others do not.


However, genetic proposition and an unhealthy diet and lifestyle.are found to be the major prevalent risk factors of diabetes, epidemiologically.


Dr. Omar Ali, in the classified genetic mutation in risk of diabetes, said, “Very few T2D risk genes were identified using candidate gene and linkage-based studies, but the advent of genome-wide association studies has led to the identification of multiple genes, including several that were not previously known to play any role in T2D. Highly replicated genes, for example, TCF7L2, KCNQ1, and KCNJ11, are discussed in greater detail”.

Other risk factors associated with the early onset of type II diabetes include overweight or obese, age 45 or older, family history, ethnicity, Alaska Native, high blood pressure and cholesterol and women with polycystic ovary syndrome.


Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the genus Medicago, belonging to the family Fabaceae, It has been cultivated all over the world as hay for cattle feeding.

The leaves, sprouts, and seeds have been used in traditional medicine over thousands of year to treat high cholesterol, asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, enhance digestive system, bleeding disorder, kidney, and urinary tract infection, etc.

North America aboriginal has used Alfalfa seed as food, such as making bread and mush.

Its chemical constituents include flavones, isoflavones, sterols, Bichanin, Coumestrol, Diadzein, Formonetin, Genistein, coumarin derivatives, etc.

In the study to reaffirm the traditional medicine use of herbal alfalfa for the treatment of diabetes, researchers at the University of Ulster launched an investigation to examine the pancreatic and extra-pancreatic effects associated with the onset of the disease.


Observation of the results of test mice induced by injection streptozotocin before and after oral administration at different doses and concentrations showed a significant effect in the reduction of diabetics symptoms.


Oral administration of Alfalfa in the diet (62.5 g/kg) and drinking water (2.5 g/l) to tested mice exerted a strong effect in reducing the abnormal levels of glucose after fasting.


Injection of an aqueous extract of Alfalfa (1 mg/ml) stimulated the conversion of glucose into glycogen, the main storage form of glucose in the bod,  through several conversion glucose molecules, in tested mice abdominal muscle.

Furthermore, in acute 20 min tests, 0.25-1 mg/ml aqueous extract of Alfalfa exhibited a significant activity in stimulating 2.5-6.3-fold of insulin secretion from the BRIN-BD11 pancreatic B-cell line.


During the experiment, researchers also discovered, the effect of Alfalfa was significantly decreased by injection of 0.5 mM-diazoxide, however, prior exposure to extract did not affect subsequent stimulation of insulin secretion by 10 mM-L-alanine, thereby negating a detrimental effect on cell viability.


Dr. Gray AM, the lead author at the final report wrote, “Sequential extraction with solvents revealed insulin-releasing activity in both methanol and water fractions, indicating a cumulative effect of more than one extract constituent”.


In other words, the effect of Alfalfa in reducing the expression of diabetes was not attributed
to a single ingredient but some or all bioactive active compounds in the herb.


Additionally, in the comparison of the effect on glucose homeostasis of eleven plants used as traditional treatments for diabetes mellitus, including dried leaves of agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), blackberry (Rubus fructicosus), celandine (Chelidonium majus), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris), and lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis); seeds of coriander (Coriandrum sativum); dried berries of juniper (Juniperus communis); bulbs of garlic (Allium sativum) and roots of liquorice (Glycyrhizza glabra), researchers at the University of Ulster conducted a study, using the preparation in the comparison to traditional coctions or infusions in diabetic mice induced by injection of streptozotocin (200 mg/kg i.p.).


Before the infection of 11 plants preparation, mice induced by injection of streptozotocin (200 mg/kg i.p.) at the 12th day were found to develop hyperphagia, polydipsia, body weight loss, hyperglycemia, and hypoinsulinemia.


Oral administration of Alfalfa preparation showed a clinically significant in reducing the level of hyperglycemia during the development of streptozotocin diabetes.

Dr. Swanston-Flatt SK, the lead author after taking into account of co and confounders said, “The results suggest that certain traditional plant treatments for diabetes, namely agrimony, alfalfa, coriander, eucalyptus, and juniper, can retard the development of streptozotocin diabetes in mice”.


Taken altogether, herbal Alfalfa may be considered a functional herb and an adjunct therapy for the prevention and treatment of diabetes without inducing any side effects.

However, due to the limitation of the above studies, additional data collection large example size and multi-centers studies performed with human consumption of the whole food Alfalfa during the course of the disease will be necessary to complete the picture of Alfalfa anti-diabetes possibilities.


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Back to Kyle J. Norton Homepage

Author Biography
Kyle J. Norton (Scholar, Master of Nutrition, All right reserved)

Health article writer and researcher; Over 10.000 articles and research papers have been written and published online, including worldwide health, ezine articles, article base, health blogs, self-growth, best before it’s news, the karate GB daily, etc.,.
Named TOP 50 MEDICAL ESSAYS FOR ARTISTS & AUTHORS TO READ by Named 50 of the best health Tweeters Canada – Huffington Post
Nominated for shorty award over last 4 years
Some articles have been used as references in medical research, such as international journal Pharma and Bioscience, ISSN 0975-6299.
(1) Pancreatic and extra-pancreatic effects of the traditional anti-diabetic plant, Medicago sativa (lucerne) by Gray AM, Flatt PR. (PubMed)
(2) Traditional plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice. by Swanston-Flatt SK, Day C, Bailey CJ, Flatt PR. (PubMed)
(3) Scientists find a new way insulin-producing cells die by University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
(4) Genetics of type 2 diabetes by Omar Ali(PMC)

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