Scientists in London claim they have discovered new plant-derived medicines that could be used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity .
The researchers at Greenwich University’s School of Science, led by Dr Solomon Habtemariam, say that the Cassia auriculata and Cassia alata plants may contain the key combination of active ingredients needed to control blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.
Dr Habtemariam, who has spent the last 25 years working to discover medicines from natural sources, said the plants are native to south-east Asia where they are already used for treating conditions like diabetes .
“We were interested to prove these medicines work and if we found activity from them, we wanted to identify active ingredients,” he said.
“We found that some of the ingredients in the crude natural exhibits do inhibit enzymes in the gut and are responsible for digesting carbohydrates.”
The scientist explained that as well as showing antioxidant benefits, the plants’ active ingredients could also help combat obesity, as some of the properties are blood lipid-lowering.
He added: “The next is to move it onto the clinical side and then the manufacturing side, but our research so far has identified a lot of various lead components that could do so many different jobs.
“Overall, this suggests that the crude plant extract has lots of potential to be used clinically for treating diabetes and associated diseases.”
Commenting on the findings, Dr Matthew Hobbs, head of research at charity group Diabetes UK, said: “Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and we are pleased that researchers are trying to find new ways to improve on existing treatments .
“However, until this work is published in a scientific journal we can’t say whether the substances in the plants being investigated have the potential to help in the fight against Type 2 diabetes and the devastating complications it causes.”

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