Table of Contents
Advances in Endocrinology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 272968, 11 pages
Review Article

Mechanisms of Action of Indigenous Antidiabetic Plants from the Boreal Forest of Northeastern Canada

1Natural Health Products and Metabolic Diseases Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology, Université de Montreal, P.O. Box 6128, Downtown Station, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
2Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team in Aboriginal Antidiabetic Medicines and Montreal Diabetes Research Center, Université de Montréal, P.O. Box 6128, Downtown Station, Montreal, QC, Canada
3Department of Pharmacognosy, University of Beni-Suef, Beni-Suef 62511, Egypt

Received 13 May 2014; Revised 9 July 2014; Accepted 14 July 2014; Published 10 August 2014

Academic Editor: Massimiliano Ruscica

Copyright © 2014 Hoda M. Eid and Pierre S. Haddad. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Indigenous populations in Canada possess a wealth of native traditional knowledge. However, their rates of Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), a disease that was unheard of in their midst 50 years ago, are the highest in the country. In an effort to cut the impact of T2DM epidemic on Indigenous health, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded the “CIHR Team in Aboriginal Antidiabetic Medicines (CIHR-TAAM).” The goal was to explore Boreal forest medicinal plants stemming from Indigenous Traditional Medicine to be included in T2DM care. Six out of nine communities of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee (CEI) participated in ethnobotanical studies that resulted in the identification of 17 potential antidiabetic plant species. These species were screened for antidiabetic activities using a platform of in vitro bioassays and in vivo models of T2DM. This paper summarizes results on the 10 most promising plant species, their active constituents, and the mechanisms behind their antidiabetic activities. In addition, potential herb-drug interactions were examined at the level of drug-metabolizing enzymes, notably the cytochrome P450 family. This review serves as a canvas onto which is discussed the value of Indigenous medicinal plants, future avenues of research, and the ethical approach required in this field.