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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Hypoglycemic herbs and their action mechanisms

Hongxiang Hui13*, George Tang2 and Vay Liang W Go3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, 90073, USA

2 Division of Medical Genetics, Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California 90048, USA

3 UCLA Center for Excellence in Pancreatic Disease, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA

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Chinese Medicine 2009, 4:11  doi:10.1186/1749-8546-4-11

Published: 12 June 2009

Abstract

Conventional drugs treat diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity, increasing insulin production and/or decreasing the amount of glucose in blood. Several herbal preparations are used to treat diabetes, but their reported hypoglycemic effects are complex or even paradoxical in some cases. This article reviews recent findings about some of the most popular hypoglycemic herbs, such as ginseng, bitter melon and Coptis chinensis. Several popular commercially available herbal preparations are also discussed, including ADHF (anti-diabetes herbal formulation), Jiangtangkeli, YGD (Yerbe Mate-Guarana-Damiana) and BN (Byakko-ka-ninjin-to). The efficacy of hypoglycemic herbs is achieved by increasing insulin secretion, enhancing glucose uptake by adipose and muscle tissues, inhibiting glucose absorption from intestine and inhibiting glucose production from heptocytes.