12 January - 20 June 2016

Potential use of culinary herbs for Type II Diabetes Mellitus management

30 July 14

In the UK, 6% of adults are registered as having Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), which costs 10% of the NHS budget to manage. T2DM develops when the body cannot produce sufficient insulin in order to regulate blood glucose levels. Effective treatment of T2DM includes following a healthy diet and increasing physical activity levels, with further medication also sometimes necessary to stabilise blood glucose levels. A recent paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry describes how Elvira de Mejia of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Illinois, has discovered that the herbs Greek oregano, marjoram, rosemary and Mexican oregano could have similar effects to diabetes medication.

de Mejia et al. extracted compounds from these herbs (greenhouse grown and commercially available dried varieties), and investigated their ability to inhibit two enzymes: DPP-IV, that plays a role in insulin secretion, and PTP1B, responsible for the reversal of insulin receptor autophosphorylation. These are the two major enzymes targeted by diabetes management drugs such as sitagliptin and metformin, which are DPP-IV inhibitors.

The team found that of the greenhouse grown herbs, rosemary, Mexican oregano and marjoram extracts were the most potent inhibitors of DPP-IV. From the commercially produced dried herbs, rosemary and Mexican oregano extracts were the most effective inhibitors. Interestingly, both Mexican and Greek oregano produced commercially had a better inhibiting effect of DPP-IV than their greenhouse grown counterparts. Furthermore, none of the extracts from greenhouse grown herbs inhibited PTP1B; however, commercial oregano, rosemary and marjoram extracts did have this effect. Extracts from rosemary and Mexican oregano were the most powerful inhibitors of DPP-IV, which positively correlated with high flavonoid and polyphenol content in these herbs.

These preliminary findings hold implications for further investigation into the use of rosemary and Mexican oregano for the management of T2DM. Whilst the results of this laboratory study were encouraging, it is vital to test whether the effects observed in the laboratory carry over safely, effectively, and at an appropriate dosage, to clinical studies on humans. If so, then the ability to use natural compounds for disease management could have great potential in lessening the necessity to adhere to lifestyle changes, and reducing the cost of medication. [MedicalNewsToday, Yahoo, Eurekalert]

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