Chaste tree berry may have a potential in improved pancreatic islet regeneration and hepatic insulin sensitivity for cure of Type I and II diabetes, some scientists suggested.
Diabetes are condition caused by insufficient insulin entering the bloodstream in regulation of glucose.
The diseases are either caused by cells in pancreas dying off or receptor sites clogged up by fat and cholesterol. In some cases, diabetes is also caused by allergic reaction of cells in the immune system.
The cause of type 1 diabetes in unknown, however it is the result of immune system mistakenly destroys the insulin-producing (islet, or islets of Langerhans) cells in the pancreas.
The mystery is why the immune system attached the specific insulin producing cells in the pancreas?
Recent study suggested that the immune system does not destroy the entire colony of the insulin producing cells in pancreas but reduced numbers of existence and function in production of insulin.
In other words, according to the the Exeter Clinical Research Facility in study of 74 volunteers. by measurement of how much natural insulin of tested subjects produced, as responded to meals, researchers found that 73 per cent of islet produced very low levels of insulin.
Chaste tree berry is a species of Vitex agnus-castus, genus Vitex, belongings to the family Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean region.
The herbal medicine has been used for thousands of year as anaphrodisiac herb and considered as Queen herb in treating menstrual problems and discomforts.
In the study to test two water soluble extracts (aqueous and ethanolic) obtained from the leaves of Vitex doniana, researchers at the Ahmadu Bello University, launched an investigation to test whether these extracts exerting any protection of pancreas against normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.
According to the results of experiment, application of extracts of chaste tree berry displayed significant effects in increased volume density of pancreatic islet as well as percentage of β-cells and size of islet in compared to non-treated diabetic control which showed complete degeneration of the islet cells.
Treated rats also showed a reduction (P<0.05) in the serum activities of marker enzymes, alanine aminotransferase(ALT), aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase in diabetes treated rats,
In healthy individuals, the ALT levels in the blood are low but the serum increase substantially in patients with diabetes caused by liver damage in decreased hepatic insulin sensitivity.
High levels of alanine aminotransferase is a marker of decreased hepatic insulin sensitivity and predictor of onset of type 2 diabetes.
In compared to healthy individuals, alkaline phosphatase (ALP), an enzyme, has been found to elevate in diabetes patients.
Furthermore, injection of extract of chaste tree berry also lowered the serum of total bilirubin and unconjugated bilirubin which were found to associate negatively to onset of diabetes.
These results of differentiation indicated that extracts of chaste tree berry exert a liver protective effect of treatment group against diabetics in induction of decreased hepatic insulin sensitivity and normalized the pancreas function in production of insulin through restoring the numbers of scattering islet cells.
Application of the extracts also induced regeneration and repairing of damaged islet cells in the pancreas.
Dr. Oche O, the lead researcher said, “plant extracts, (exhibited) regeneration of β-cells along with β-cells repairs, in compared to non-treated diabetic control which showed complete degeneration of the islet cells”.
More important, in D-galactose induced pancreatic disorder in aging mouse model, treatment of Vitex agnus-castus (VAC) demonstrated potential pancreatic protective and hypoglycemic effects through improved the size of pancreatic islets decreased in aged and D-galactose groups.
In a total of 72 adult female Naval Medical Research Institute (NMRI) mice (weighing 30-35 g) divided into 6 groups of control, VAC hydroalcoholic extract, D-galactose, D-galactose + VAC hydroalcoholic extract, aged, aged + VAC hydroalcoholic extract through subcutaneous injection of D-galactose for 45 days and, VAC hydroalcoholic extract gavaged twice a day in the last 7 days. 24 h after the last drug and extract administrations, group treated with Chaste tree berry extract or combinations of the extract showed increased evels of insulin and decreased serum glucose and D-galactose level in compared to other treatment groups.
The study also found, “Despite the size of pancreatic islets decreased in aged and D-galactose groups, ……….. VAC hydroalcoholic extract has hypoglycemic and pancreatic protective effects in natural aged and aging model mice”.
In fact, there is also a report indicated that oral administration of once daily to diabetic rats for the period of 30 days of iridoid glucoside isolated from chaste tree berry may be effective as glibenclamide, a known hypoglycemic drug, at concentration of 50 mg/kg b.w.
Promissingly, iridoid glucoside reversed hyperglycemia-induced biochemical changes to near normal levels.
Collectively, Chaste tree berry may be used as functional food for curing Type I and Type II diabetes through its hypoglycemic and pancreatic and hepatic protective effects.
However, further data collection on studies performed with human consumption during the course of the disease will be necessary to complete the picture of its antidiabetes possibilities.
Intake of chaste tree berry extracts should be taken with extreme care, as overdoses may cause acute liver toxicity.
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