Diabetes is one of the nation’s most prevalent, debilitating and costly diseases. For diabetes, frequent insulin treatment is very expensive and may increase anti-insulin antibody production, which may cause unwanted side effects. Corosolic acid may also have some efficacy in the treatment of diabetes, but without induction of anti-insulin antibodies. Recently, corosolic acid from Lagerstroemia speciosa L. leaf extracts has been reported to act via an indirect mechanism (unlike insulin) in animal experiments. The insulin-complementary anti-diabetic therapeutic value observed in these Japanese preliminary clinical trials has led to renewed interest in the biosynthesis of this compound.
Many medicinal plants play an important role in the treatment of diabetes, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries where there are limitations on presently available therapeutic options for diabetes such as oral hypoglycemic agents and insulin. In addition, frequent insulin treatment is very expensive and may increase anti-insulin antibody production which causes many side effects. Herbal medicines used for many years in different cultures around the world are in some ways ideal therapeutics and may even represent possible permanent cures for diabetes，Until now, more than 400 plant species have been scientifically claimed to have anti-hyperglycemic activity.The reason for a recent effort in introducing new plant-derived molecules into the drug development pipeline is obvious, and understanding of the molecular targets of natural products is important.
To prevent diabetes mellitus without side effects requires potent natural stereoisomers of anti-diabetic molecules from plant sources. Plants contain several hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic constituents that have been the object of clinical trials to demonstrate their beneficial action in diabetes treatment.The Lagerstroemia speciosa L. (banaba) plant belonging to the family Lythraceae is commonly used in Ayurveda medicine and is an important medicinal crop in Asian countries. In addition, this plant is of significant commercial interest on the international pharmaceutical markets and is called “queen crape-myrtle”. Anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, antioxidant, insulin-like glucose uptake activity and hypoglycemic effects of L. speciosa leaf extracts have been reported, although banaba leaf extract has not been evaluated yet by the FDA.The principal component of banaba leaves is corosolic acid (2α-hydroxyursolic acid, molecular formula C30H48O4, molecular weight 472.70),an ursan type triterpene which has recently attracted much attention due to its anti-diabetic activities . Due to the insulin-like properties of corosolic acid, it is known as a “phyto-insulin” and is also commonly referred to as “botanical insulin”.
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