For long, researchers have known that some herbal remedies for diabetes which reduce blood glucose levels are similar to synthetic diabetes medications like metformin and sulfonylurea.
Now experts in a study said that Costus afer and African snail slime are herbal anti-diabetic remedies that can be used for the purpose of treatment, control and management of varieties of diabetes.
The investigations carried out to determine the long term effects of Costus afer leaf methanol extract, snail slime and the combined Costus afer and snail slime extracts on blood glucose levels of alloxan-induced diabetic Swiss albino rats were done at the University of Jos.
The rats that showed diabetic and healthy were randomly selected and distributed into nine groups of five animals each. Animals in the different groups received either distilled water, left untreated or graded doses of the extracts and standard diabetes drug (Glibenclamide). The extract was administered for a period of 21 days.
Costus afer is traditionally well known for its blood sugar-lowering effect and insulin-secretory activity. It is commonly called Ginger lily or Bush cane in English. The Igbo people call it “Okpete” or “Okpoto”, whereas the Hausa of northern Nigeria and Yoruba of Western Nigeria refer it as “Kakizawa” and “Tete-egun” respectively.
Ginger lily is used in folk medicine and phytomedicine for the treatment and management of a variety of human ailments, like diabetes mellitus and abdominal problems.
In Nigeria, the Hausa tribe calls African giant snail Dodon Kodiin Hausa, while the Igbo community and Yorubas call it Ejula and Igbin respectively.
Snail has a lot of slimy substances known as snail slime which it drops along its path as it moves. It also uses this slime to regenerate its shell and skin when damaged.
From the study, the snail slime showed positive effect on blood glucose-lowering level but less effective when compared with a similar dose of the Costus afer leaf methanol extract.
The study indicated that there was 103 mg/dL and 87 mg/dL blood glucose reduction for the low dose of Costus afer and Snail slime respectively while the standard hypoglycemic drug (Glibenclamide, 5 mg/kg) used for comparison yielded a blood glucose level reduction of 103 mg/dL.
Similarly, the high dose used in the study gave a blood glucose reduction of 99 mg/dL and 95 mg/dL for Costus afer leaf methanol extract and snail slime respectively.
The results obtained when alloxan induced rats were treated with C. afer leaf methanol extract, Snail slime extract, and combined C. afer and snail slime extracts showed a dose-dependent fashion and without any significant side effect.
This 2018 study to investigate the anti-diabetic potential of bioactive crude Costus afer methanol leaf extract, giant African land snail slime and their combination was published in the Open Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
The researchers said that this regenerative capacity of snail slime and the fact that diabetes is characterised by damage of the pancreatic beta cells may give credit to the blood sugar-lowering (hypoglycaemic) effect observed in Costus afer methanol leaf extract and snail slime for possible drug formulation for anti-diabetic remedy.
They added that the result supports the views of other researchers that some herbal anti-diabetic remedies which reduce blood glucose levels were similar to those of synthetic oral hypoglycemic drugs like metformin and sulfonylurea.
Moreover, based on the discovered therapeutic potential prior to, during and after the 19th century, plant medicines such as Gum Arabic, bitter melon, Bitter leaf, onion, garlic, okra, Aloe vera and Artemisia afra (African wormwood) has been used for the treatment of diabetes.
Diabetes is a widespread disorder affecting the blood sugar and insulin levels in the body. Managing the long-term consequences and complications of diabetes are as much of a challenge as the disease itself.
There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is where the pancreas produces no insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common. With type 2, the body either does not produce enough insulin or produces insulin that the body does not use properly.
Growing research, however, suggests that some herbs and supplements could be combined with more traditional methods to find relief from many type 2 diabetes symptoms.
The search for new antidiabetic therapies has become increasingly urgent due to the development of adverse effects and resistance by the chemically synthesized drugs on one hand and effectiveness with low cost of the plant materials on the other hand.