Importance of food plants in the prevention and treatment of diabetes in Cameroon

Nole Tsabang, Lionel W., Clément G. Yedjou, Paul B. Tchounwou

Abstract


Background: Diabetes is a metabolic pathology that affects the human body’s capacity to produce and use insulin. Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes accounts for 5-10 % of diabetic patients. In Type 2 diabetes the insulin produced by the pancreatic islets is not properly used by cells leading to insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes sometimes occurs in pregnant women and affects about 18 % of all pregnancies. Diabetes is one of the most important multifactorial, metabolic and chronic diseases, with fatal complications. According to the International Diabetes Federation’s estimations in 2015, 415 million people had diabetes. By 2040 this will increase to 642 million. Although many ethnopharmacological surveys have been carried out in several parts of the world, no ethnomedical and ethnopharmacological surveys have been done to identify plants used for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

Objective: This study aimed to collect and document information on food plants’ remedies consumed for preventing and treating diabetes in Cameroon.

Methods: Ethnomedical and ethnopharmacological thorough preparation was conducted nearby 1131 interviewers from 58 tribes, in a random distribution. Diabetic patients recorded among the 1,131 people who signed the informed consent and allowed us to evaluate the effectiveness of 10 food plants that they usually used in self-medication. They were divided into two groups: Group 1 was comprised of 42 diabetic patients who regularly consume certain food plants, and Group 2 included 58 patients who were town dwellers and did not regularly eat the identified food plants. 

Results: It was discovered that the times of onset of diabetes in patients were about 70 years and 45 years in Group 1 and Group 2, respectively. Hence, it was demonstrated that the onset of diabetes was linked to consumption of food plants which contributed to the prevention and/or the delay in its clinical manifestations.

Conclusion: The results of this study provide a scientific basis for the use of herbal medicines in the management of diabetes. However further investigations and/or clinical trials involving a large number of both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are needed to confirm the therapeutic action of many food plants against diabetes.

Keywords: Cameroon, food plants, diabetes, prevention and treatment


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