Diabetes In The US
Diabetes mellitus has a global presence of 1.9% and 371 million people suffer from the disease. According to the American Diabetes Association a whopping $1 out of every $4 in US health care costs is spent on caring for people with diabetes. $327 billion (2017) is spent each year on direct medical costs and another $90 billion on reduced productivity. As of now there is no end in site as every year an average of 1.4 million Americans are newly diagnosed with this disease.
Some of the complications associated with diabetes include Complications associated with diabetes include: heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, neuropathy, nephropathy, retinopathy and vision loss, hearing loss, foot damage such as infections and sores that don’t heal, skin conditions such as bacterial and fungal infections, depression, and dementia. Although there are many drugs and combinations of drugs that can be used to manage diabetes, researchers are also looking at plant based medicines to help combat this deadly disease.
Avocado Leaf, Folklore or Medicinal Plant?
The leaves of the avocado tree have been popularly used in Latin America and Africa for years as an alternative treatment for diabetes. The use of natural plants as pharmaceuticals are popular in areas where traditional medicines are not easily accessible to the general public. The practice of ethnomedicine (plant based medicine) has been attracting attention for its advantages, such as effectiveness, low incidence of side effects and also for historical, cultural and economic reasons. The leaf extract from the avocado tree was studied in 1999 for its chemical properties and found to contain triterpene glycosides, coumarins, saponins, alkaloids, tannins, reducing sugars and flavonoids. These findings have led to numerous follow up studies regarding the possible pharmaceutical benefits of the leaf including one of the first studies, The Tadulako University study in 2012.
Anti-diabetic activity of extract from Persea americana Mill (aka The avocado Leaf) - 2012
In 2012 a study was conducted at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil by the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Histology and Embryology, and Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. The results were released in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology where the scientists concluded remarkable findings from the effect of avocado leaf extract on rats that were induced with streptozotocin, a chemical that induces diabetes.
This study was done to find out the hypoglycemic properties of avocado leaf extract over a four week time frame using Male Wistar rats, which are widely used for pharmaceutical testing. They were divided into 5 groups where the subjects received different amounts of avocado leaf extract, metformin, or none. The treatments were delivered orally and on a daily basis.
This study identified that a dose of .3 milligrams of avocado leaf extract in a diabetic rat was most effective. During the study flavonoids, which are found in avocado leaf extract, proved to be a key component on why the extract is so effective. It protects cell structures and is also an anti-inflammatory.
The Conclusion of the study stated
“The results indicate that the hydroalcoholic extract of the leaves of Persea americana has anti-diabetic properties and possibly acts to regulate glucose uptake in liver and muscles by way of PKB/Akt activation, restoring the intracellular energy balance.”
A full 40 percent of the drugs behind the pharmacist’s counter in the Western world are derived from plants that people have used for centuries, including the top 20 best selling prescription drugs in the United States today. Plant medicines have far fewer side effects and should continue to be reviewed for the natural benefits they provide.