Kenkyu Journal of Pharmacy Practice & Health Care ISSN : 2455-4421
Antidiabetic Medicinal Plants Having Insulin Mimetic Property: A Review
  • Vijay Kumar Singh ,

    Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Columbia Institute of Pharmacy, Tekari, Near Vidhansabha, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India, 493111

  • Mahendra Kumar Sahu* ,

    Mahendra Kumar Sahu, Department of Pharmacology, Columbia Institute of Pharmacy, Tekari, Near Vidhansabha, Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India, 493111. Email:mahendrapharma0310@gmail.com,Mobile: 8109794919.

Received: 15-05-2018

Accepted: 01-08-2018

Published: 03-08-2018

Citation: Vijay Kumar Singh , Mahendra Kumar Sahu (2018) Antidiabetic Medicinal Plants Having Insulin Mimetic Property: A Review, Ken Jou Phar Hel Car 4: 56-60

Copyrights: © 2018, Mahendra Kumar Sahu, et al


Background: Diabetes mellitus (DM) is an endocrine metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia, altered lipids, carbohydrates, proteins metabolism. Resulting from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action or both. 

Aim and objectives: The present study deals with collection of data’s available on plants which have antidiabetic activity. 

Method: Plant profiles of 20 Species with antidiabetic properties were compiled and categorized according to their parts used, active phytoconstituents having insulin mimetic activity and mode of reduction in blood glucose (insulin mimetic or insulin secretagogues activity). 

Result: Majority of plants are containing phytoconstituents such as flavonoids, terpenoids, coumarins and polyphenols.  Among of them flavonoids including flavan-3-ols, flavanones, flavonols, anthocyanidins, flavones and is flavones. Terpenoids including Monoterpenoids, Diterpenoids, Triterpenoids and Polyterpenoids. Furthermore, phenolic compounds such as eugenol, eugenol acetate and Gallic acid are present. These are capable to produce insulinomimetic action. 

Conclusion: The paper has presented a list of various antidiabetic plants used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. It shows that these plants have hypoglycemic effects and can be used to treat various types of secondary complications of diabetes mellitus. 

Key words: Diabetes; Insulin secretagogues; Insulin mimetics; Phytoconstituents; Pancrease; Blood glucose; Insulin; Beta cell; Antidiabetic activity; Medicinal plants; Metabolic disorder; Herbal medicine; Diabetes mellitus; Hypoglycaemic activity. 


Diabetes mellitus (DM) is not a single disease but it is a group of metabolic disorders affecting a huge number of populations in the world. It is mainly characterized by hyperglycemia, hyper aminoacidemia, hyperlipedemia, and hypoinsulinaemia. It leads to decrease in both insulin secretion and insulin action [1]. It is frequently associated with the development of micro and macro vascular diseases which include neuropathy, nephropathy, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases [2]. The disease is associated with reduced quality of life and increased risk factors for mortality and morbidity. The long-term hyperglycemia is an important factor in the development and progression of micro- and macro vascular complications [3]. The worldwide prevalence of DM for all age groups was estimated to be 2.8% in 2000 and it is projected to be 5.4% in 2025. At present available therapies for the treatment of DM comprise insulin and various oral antihyperglycemic agents such as sulfonylurea’s, biguanides and glinides. In developing countries as products are expensive and not easily accessible. Currently, there is growing interest in herbal formulations due to its fewer side effects. So the traditional herbal medicines are mainly used which are obtained from plants, it plays important role in the management of DM [4]. In modern, herbal medicines have started to achieve importance as a source of hypoglycemic agents. Marles and Farnsworth expected that more than 1000 plant species are being used as folk medicine for diabetes [5]. Biological actions of the plant products used as alternative medicines to treat diabetes are related to their chemical composition. Natural formulations are rich in phenolic compounds, flavonoids, terpenoids and other constituents which show gradually diminution in blood glucose levels [6-8]. Several species of herbal drugs have been described in the scientific and popular literature as having antidiabetic activity [9]. Due to their perceived effectiveness, fewer side effects in clinical experience and relatively low costs, herbal drugs are prescribed [9]. Herbal formulations are traditionally used from long time in many countries for the treatment of DM. The aim of this review is to provide compile data about DM, its epidemiology, causes, pathophysiology, available treatment, diagnostic criteria, major available screening model system, herbal remedies to treat diabetes and pharmacologically tested herbal formulation. The review also face certain plant materials which were screened in alloxan and streptozotocin induced diabetic rat's model and the data information were collected from the available literature search published in last three year using alloxan induced diabetic rat model. Moreover, only sub acute and chronic diabetic study of the plant material was included in the present review. [10]


Scientific Name


Parts Used

Extraction solvent

Diabetic induced by

Active Ingredient’s

Probable Mechanism

of action

Vernonia amygdalina



Hydroalcoholic, methanol, acetone and N-hexane


Anthraquinone, tannins, flavonoids, akaloids,  saponins, glycosides, terpenoids

Hypoglycemic activity by enhancing insulin secretion and insulin activity, lipid metabolism and antioxidant. [11]

Aegle marmelos


Leaves, juice



Citral, cineole, citronellal, skimmianine, aegilin

Stimulates insulin secretion from beta cells inhibits insulin degradative process. [12]

Euonyrnus alatus





Rutin,  β-sitosterol  and quercetin

Hypoglycemic activity by β-sitosterol, Stimulates insulin secretion from β cells inhibits insulin degradative process. [13]

Fructus Coini


Leaves, Seeds

Ether, benzene and chloroform


Bornyl acetate, camphor, borneol, beta-sitosterol, vanillic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid

Increases gluconeogenesis and decreases

Glycogenolysis. [14]

Tephrosia villosa


Whole plant



Flavones, flavanones, prenylated flavonoids, chalcones and rotenoids

Hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic and antioxidant property decreased influx of glucose in polyol

pathway, increasing NADPH/NADP ratio and increased activity of glucose peroxidase. [15]

Zaleya decandra


Whole  plant



Terpenes and triterpenoids, sterols and steroids, phenolics, flavonoids, gums, resins,

quinones, anthocyanidine,  saponins, antioxidants and fatty acids

Stimulates insulin secretion from beta cells inhibits insulin degradative process. [16]

Vernonia amygdalina


Leaves, flowers &


Hydroalcoholic, methanol, acetone and N-hexane


Anthraquinones , tannins, flavonoids, alkaloids, saponins, glycosides, cyanogenic glycosides, terpenoids, tannins

Hypoglycemic activity by inhibiting oxidative

Stress. [17]

Heinsia crinata


Root, cortex

Methanol, hexane


Flavonoids, hydroxy-anthraquinones, saponins, steroids, tannins and glycoside

Hypoglycemic activity by lowering blood glucose and stimulating peripheral utilization of glucose. [18]

Barleria prionitis



N-Hexane, ethyl acetate, methanol and water


Glycosides, methyl ester, 6-o-trans-p-coumaroyl-8-o-acetylshanzhiside methyl ester, barlerin, acetylbarlerin, 7-methoxydiderroside and lupulinoside

Increase in glucose uptake and glycogen deposition, inhibits activity of epinephrine on glucose metabolism resulting in utilization of peripheral glucose. does not alter cortisol concentration. [19]

Acacia Arabica


Seeds, leaves

Eyhanol, methanol


Kaempferol, quercetin, 3,4',7-trihydroxyl-3', 5-dimethoxyflavone, catechin, epicatechin, afzelechin, epiafzelechin, mesquitol, ophioglonin, aromadendrin  and phenol

Hypoglycemic effect in rat, through release of insulin. [20]

Nymphaea Pubescens


Flower, leaves

Ethanolic extract


Alkaloids, carbohydrates, glycosides, sterols, phenolic compounds and tannins, amino acids, proteins and flavonoids

Increase the insulin

secretion or inhibit the intestinal absorption of

glucose. [21]

Paspalum scrobiculatum


Stem juice, rhizomes, roots

Aqueous and ethanolic extract


Steroids, lipids, amino acids and carbohydrates

Reduce the blood glucose and lipid parameters. [22]

Adina cordifolia





Tannins, saponins and flavonoids.

Increase the insulin

secretion or inhibit the intestinal absorption of

glucose. [23]

Afzelia africana


Stem bark





tannins, phenols and


Potentiating of insulin from β cells or by increasing peripheral glucose uptake. [24]




Whole plant




Potent antioxidant

activity leads to

antidiabetic activity. [25]

Aralia elata


Root cortex



β-sitosterol, oleanolic acid, daucosterol, oleanolic acido-28-o-β-d-glucopyranoside, araloside a and sucrose. except oleanolic acid

The hypoglycemic activity of A. elata is mainly mediated through inhibition

of aldose reductase activity. [26]

Grewia Asiatica (Malvaceae)

Fruit, Stem bark and leaves



Anthocyanin, cyanidin 3- glycoside 9, vitamin C

reduction in serum glucose level of alloxan induced diabetic rabbits. This anti- hyperglycemic may be mediated by

its antioxidant and radical scavenging activity rather than by stimulating

the release of insulin. [27]

Gymnema sylvestre






acid, gurmarin, and saponins

Causinga prominent suppression in bloodglucose,

glycosylated hemoglobin and glycosylated plasma proteins

together with restoring blood glucose homeostasis in type 2 diabetic

patients. [28]

Lawsonia inermis


Whole plant

Ethanol as well as 95% methanol



flavonoids, proteins, phenolic compounds, tannins, terpenoids,

alkaloids, quinones, xanthones, coumarins

Extracts of the whole plant exhibited potent hypoglycemic and hypolipidaemic

activities in alloxan induced diabetic mice causing significant reduction in serum glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides level exceeding the effect of glibenclamide. [29]

Panax ginseng


Root and leaves




glycosides, ginsenoside, peptides, fatty acids and polyacetylene alcohol

aqueous extract showed a remarkable hypoglycemic

activity, increasing insulin production, reducing pancreatic β-cells death and resistance to insulin, thus improving postprandial glycemia

in diabetic patients. [30]


































































































































































Table 1: Important anti-diabetic potential herbal plants source and their active principles


Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism caused due to insufficient production of insulin or its inhibitory action, which can be considered as a major source of high economic loss which can in turn obstruct the development of nations [31]. Before there were drugs from drug companies, natural cures were used and they can still be used today. There are many herbs with strong antidiabetic properties. Herbal treatments for diabetes have been used in patients with insulin dependent and noninsulin dependent diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy etc [32]. The families of plants with the most potent hypoglycaemic effects include Leguminoseae, Lamiaceae, Liliaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Asteraceae, Moraceae, Rosaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Araliaceae [33]. The most commonly studied species are: Opuntia streptacantha, Trigonella foenum graecum, Momordica charantia, Ficus bengalensis, Polygala senega and Gymnema sylvestre. In the experiments, oral glucose tolerance test, streptozotocin and alloxan induced diabetic mouse or rat were most commonly used model for the screening of antidiabetic drugs. Numerous mechanisms of actions have been proposed for plant extracts [34]. Some hypothesis relates to their effects on the activity of pancreatic beta cells, increase in the inhibitory effect against insulinase enzyme, increase of the insulin sensitivity or the insulin-like activity of the plant extracts [35]. Other mechanisms may also be involved such as increase of peripheral utilization of glucose, increase of synthesis of hepatic glycogen or decrease of glycogenolysis, inhibition of intestinal glucose absorption, reduction of glycaemic index of carbohydrates and reduction of the effect of glutathione [36]. In this review, natural products classified into terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolics, and some other categories have shown antidiabetic potential through the insulinomimetic activity of the plant extract. Roseoside, epigallocatechin gallate, beta-pyrazol-1-ylalanine, cinchonain, leucocyandin 3-O-beta-d-galactosyl cellobioside, leucopelargonidin-3-O-alpha-L rhamnoside, glycyrrhetinic acid, dehydrotrametenolic acid, strictinin, isostrictinin and pedunculagin, epicatechin and christinin-A isolated from the plant material have shown significant insulinomimetic activity along with significant antidiabetic potential. Additionally, some flavonoids and polyphenols, as well as sugar derivatives, are found to be effective due to some other extrapancreatic mechanisms. In this review 20 plants are included which have shown antidiabetic action through relese of insulin and some extra pancreatic mechanisms [37].


Present study has described a list of 20 antidiabetic plants used in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Majority of plants are containing phytoconstituents such as flavonoids, terpenoids, coumarins and polyphenols.  Among of them flavonoids including flavan-3-ols, flavanones, flavonols, anthocyanidins, flavones and isoflavones. Terpenoids including Monoterpenoids, Diterpenoids, Triterpenoids and Polyterpenoids. Furthermore, phenolic compounds such as eugenol, eugenol acetate and gallic acid are present. These are capable to produce insulinomimetic action and also show that these plants have hypoglycemic effects and can be used to treat various types of secondary complications of diabetes mellitus.


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