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The traditionally used plants having therapeutically potent phyto-chemicals are known to have a great potential in the treatment of various ailments including the non-communicable ones like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases etc. Diabetes is a serious metabolic disorder affecting a large number of population worldwide. Despite the great efforts made to understand and manage this disorder, its prevalence is increasing unabatedly which creates an upsurging demand for some other approach than conventional medicines. The use of many traditional plants with anti-diabetic potential is being considered as an alternate strategy, which is cost-effective and has less side effects. This paper reviews the accumulated literature mainly for five Indian herbs having anti-diabetic activity and their proposed action of mechanism which has been scientifically tested. Phyto-compounds present in medicinal plants like gurmur (Gymnema Sylvestre), cinnamon (Cinnamomum), sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), mulberry leaves (Moraceae Plant) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) have shown significant hypoglycemic potential in treating type 2 diabetes through several possible mechanisms. Gymnemic acid in gurmur can inhibit the intestinal glucose absorption, whereas cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon and palmitoleic acid in Sea buckthorn enhances glucose uptake. The compound 1-deoxynojirimycin found in mulberry leaves inhibits the enzymatic activity of α-glucosidase and diosgenin in Fenugreek has a role in the regeneration of pancreatic β-cells, thus showing the mechanism of their anti-diabetic action. The inclusion of these medicinal plants in daily dietaries can be looked upon as an alternate strategy towards controlling and managing blood glucose levels among people with diabetes.
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