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Emodin – Extract of a Chinese Herb to Treat Type 2 Diabetes

There is an increase in the interest of learning about alternative medicinal practices of late. Researchers from west have now started to explore the efficacy of the age-old herbs from the east in treating ailments.

In the United States, the National Center for Contemporary and Alternative Medicine, a sister organization of the National Institutes of Health is involved in exploring the traditional medicinal practices all over the world and their relevance in recent times.

In this context, researchers at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Science, Shanghai, China have discovered a herbal extract which has several benefits of treating Type 2 diabetes.

Results of their findings are published in the August 2010 edition of the British Journal of Pharmacology. This article tries to gain further insight on this pertinent topic.

Knowledge Gained from the Research:

  • Emodin is a natural extract from the Chinese herbs Rheum palmatum and Polygonum cuspidatum.
  • The effect of this extract on experimental mice with was studied in the laboratory.
  • It was found that emodin could lower glucose level in blood glucose, bring down the use of insulin in blood, improved the resistance of insulin efficacy in type 2 diabetics and brought the fat levels in the blood to healthy states.
  • There was weight loss along with a decline in fat mass at the center of the body.


All these features are extremely beneficial and desired from any effective anti-diabetic drug. Most of the time, the available drugs address one of diabetes and be partially effective in addressing rest of the equally damaging aspects. There is always an undesirable and unavoidable risk of side effects on using these drugs. Natural herbs are known to be almost immune from producing any side effects.

How Emodin Extract Works in Treating Type 2 Diabetes?

Research studies carried out in present
times are increasingly establishing the role of an enzyme known as 11β-HSD1 in the body’s response to sugar coming from the intake of a diet. It is known that food consumed increases the glucose levels in the blood and it is the task of insulin hormone to bring back the blood sugar level to normalcy.

However, there are another type of hormones known as glucocorticoids, which are found to decrease the efficacy of insulin hormone. These hormones are made effective in their anti-insulin activities by an enzyme called 11β-HSD1.

The Chinese research study found that emodin extract is a powerful and chosen inhibitor of 11β-HSD1 enzyme. In this way, the anti-insulin action of glucocorticoids hormone is curbed in the body. This effect assists in reducing the blood sugar level and improve the condition of insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics.

Further research is now focused on the development of anti-diabetic drugs with emodin being the active component.

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