Rosemary & Oregano Fight Diabetes

The popular culinary herbs oregano and rosemary are packed with healthful compounds, and now lab tests show they could work in much the same way as prescription anti-diabetic medication, scientists report. In their study published in July 2014 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia and colleagues found that the way the herbs are grown makes a difference, and they also identified which compounds contribute the most to this promising trait.

A release from the American Chemical Society notes that in 2012, type 2 diabetes affected more than 8 percent of Americans and cost the country $175 billion. Some people can manage the disease with exercise and changes to their diet, and others take medication. But not everyone can stick to a new lifestyle or afford the prescription drugs necessary to keep blood sugar levels in check. Recent research has shown that herbs could provide a natural way to help lower glucose in blood.

The team tested four different herbs, either greenhouse-grown or dried commercial versions, for their ability to interfere with a diabetes-related enzyme, which is also a target of a prescription drug for the disease.
They found that greenhouse herbs contained more polyphenols and flavonoids compared to the equivalent commercial herbs. But this didn’t affect the concentration required to inhibit the enzyme. Commercial extracts of Greek oregano, Mexican oregano and rosemary were better inhibitors of the enzyme, required to reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, than greenhouse-grown herbs. The researchers say more studies are needed to understand the role of these compounds in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in humans.

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