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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 378657, 33 pages
Review Article

Herbal Therapies for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Chemistry, Biology, and Potential Application of Selected Plants and Compounds

1Department of Veterinary Medicine, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung 402, Taiwan
2Department of Life Science, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei 116, Taiwan
3Institute of Chemistry, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City 1100, Philippines
4Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica, No. 128, Academia Sinica Road, Section 2, Nankang, Taipei 115, Taiwan
5Graduate Institute of Immunology, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan
6Center for Neuropsychiatry, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung 404, Taiwan
7Institute of Pharmacology, Yang-Ming University, Taipei 112, Taiwan
8Institute of Zoology, National Taiwan University, Taipei 106, Taiwan
9Department of Life Sciences, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung 402, Taiwan

Received 6 February 2013; Accepted 11 March 2013

Academic Editor: William C. Cho

Copyright © 2013 Cicero L. T. Chang 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.


Diabetes mellitus has been recognized since antiquity. It currently affects as many as 285 million people worldwide and results in heavy personal and national economic burdens. Considerable progress has been made in orthodox antidiabetic drugs. However, new remedies are still in great demand because of the limited efficacy and undesirable side effects of current orthodox drugs. Nature is an extraordinary source of antidiabetic medicines. To date, more than 1200 flowering plants have been claimed to have antidiabetic properties. Among them, one-third have been scientifically studied and documented in around 460 publications. In this review, we select and discuss blood glucose-lowering medicinal herbs that have the ability to modulate one or more of the pathways that regulate insulin resistance, -cell function, GLP-1 homeostasis, and glucose (re)absorption. Emphasis is placed on phytochemistry, anti-diabetic bioactivities, and likely mechanism(s). Recent progress in the understanding of the biological actions, mechanisms, and therapeutic potential of compounds and extracts of plant origin in type 2 diabetes is summarized. This review provides a source of up-to-date information for further basic and clinical research into herbal therapy for type 2 diabetes. Emerging views on therapeutic strategies for type 2 diabetes are also discussed.