A compound found in hibiscus can help fight diabetes, according to a new study from India.
Ferulic acid (FRL), a phytochemical found in the leaves of hibiscus mutabilis, a particular species of hibiscus, successfully restored insulin sensitivity in diabetic rats.
Interestingly, the animals fed on the component also achieved a considerable reduction in sugar levels within two weeks of receiving it, NDTV and IANS reported.
"We found that ferulic acid (FRL), belonging to the polyphenols, extracted from leaves of the plant, has the potential to be a better therapeutic agent for diabetes," Samir Bhattacharya, Emeritus Professor, School of Life Sciences at Visva-Bharati in Shanti Niketan, told Zee News.
For the study, researchers from Tezpur University in Assam and Visva-Bharati University in West Bengal, induced insulin resistance in skeletal muscle and adipose tissues of rats to develop type 2 diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, pancreatic cells get destroyed by the immune system of the body. Pancreatic cells are essential for production of the hormone insulin that regulates blood sugar in the body.
Type 1 diabetes requires daily insulin injections to survive. In Type 2 diabetes, the body develops resistance to insulin. It usually affects people aged 40 or above.
"In diabetes, insulin sensitivity is retarded. The isolated compound can restore sensitivity and, therefore, cells can sense the presence of insulin," Alak Kumar Buragohain, Vice Chancellor at Dibrugarh University in Assam, also Professor at Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in Tezpur University, told NDTV.
The findings reported in Journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, bring hopes as nearly 62 million Indians are affected with diabetes and nearly 44 lakh, aged between 20 and 79, are unaware that they are diabetic, according to a 2012 report.
Additionally, the chronic disease claimed nearly 10 lakh lives in 2011. If left untreated or undiagnosed, diabetes can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (strokes, heart attack), and can cause damage to the kidney, eye, nerve, foot, and may lead to cancer.
Hibiscus mutabilis, originated in China, belongs to the malvaceae or mallows family of flowering plants. It is also known in different names, including changing rose, cotton rose, sthalkamal, confederate rose and sthalpadma.
Chinese medicine highlights the unlimited medicinal benefits provided by flowers and leaves of hibiscus mutabilis.
According to stuartxchange.com, they are "expectorant, cooling, analgesic and antidote to all kinds of poison", and are also used to treat swellings and skin infections. Flowers can help fight nasopharynx cancer, while the leaves can cure tuberculous lymphadenitis, they said.
In India, hibiscus flower is used for treating hair loss.