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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 296432, 10 pages
Research Article

Larix laricina, an Antidiabetic Alternative Treatment from the Cree of Northern Quebec Pharmacopoeia, Decreases Glycemia and Improves Insulin Sensitivity In Vivo

1Canadian Institutes of Health Research Team in Aboriginal Antidiabetic Medicines, Department of Pharmacology, University of Montreal, P.O. Box 6128, Downtown Station, Montreal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
2Natural Health Products and Metabolic Diseases Laboratory, Department of Pharmacology, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7
3Institute of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods, Laval University, Quebec City, QC, Canada G1V 0A6
4Montreal Diabetes Research Center, University of Montreal Hospital Center, Montreal, QC, Canada H1W 4A4
5Department of Biology and Center for Research in Biopharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 6N5

Received 10 March 2012; Accepted 7 May 2012

Academic Editor: Vincenzo De Feo

Copyright © 2012 Despina Harbilas et al. 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.


Larix laricina K. Koch is a medicinal plant belonging to traditional pharmacopoeia of the Cree of Eeyou Istchee (Eastern James Bay area of Canada). In vitro screening studies revealed that, like metformin and rosiglitazone, it increases glucose uptake and adipogenesis, activates AMPK, and uncouples mitochondrial function. The objective of this study was to evaluate the antidiabetic and antiobesity potential of L. laricina in diet-induced obese (DIO) C57BL/6 mice. Mice were subjected for eight or sixteen weeks to a high fat diet (HFD) or HFD to which L. laricina was incorporated at 125 and 250 mg/kg either at onset (prevention study) or in the last 8 of the 16 weeks of administration of the HFD (treatment study). L. laricina effectively decreased glycemia levels, improved insulin resistance, and slightly decreased abdominal fat pad and body weights. This occurred in conjunction with increased energy expenditure as demonstrated by elevated skin temperature in the prevention study and improved mitochondrial function and ATP synthesis in the treatment protocol. L. laricina is thus a promising alternative and complementary therapeutic approach for the treatment and care of obesity and diabetes among the Cree.