Insulin plant Costus pictus

The present study was carried out to evaluate the antidiabetic activity of Costus pictus (C.pictus) D. Don, on alloxan induced diabetic rats. Oral administration of fresh leaf extract (200 and 400 mg/kg body weight) for 60 days treatment resulted in significant decrease in blood glucose level and lipid profiles.  There were also significant changes observed in carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes and antioxidants. The nitrogenous wastes such as urea, uric acid and creatinine were also found decreased after the treatment. The study clearly shows that the effect of the drug (400 mg/kg body weight) was equally effective with the standard drug glibenclamide. To find out the biomarkers, pharmacognostic and phytochemical studies were carried out . The leaf of C. pictus is characterized by simple unicellular, pointed non-glandular trichomes, absence of palisade layer and hypodermal layers containing shattered crystals. Micromorphological characters of the leaf are also given.  The leaves are found to contain flavonoids such as kaempferol, 3’, 4’-di O-Me-quercetin and 4’-OMe-Kaempferol and  phenolic acids such as gentisic, 2, 5-dihydroxy benzoic acid, o-coumaric, melilotic, α-resorcyclic, 3,5-dihydroxy benzoic acid, p- hydroxy benzoic acid, cis and trans-p-coumaric acid.

Diabetes mellitus is a disorder very well known and widespread all over the world. Different types of oral hypoglycemic agents such as insulin, suphonylurea etc. are used for the treatment of this disease, but they cause side effects on continued use. There is a growing interest in phytomedicine because of their effectiveness, fewer side effects and low costs. Many Indian medicinal plants are reported   to   be   useful   in   diabetes.   C.   pictus   D.Don. (Costaceae) an ornamental plant of Mexico, is one such plant newly introduced to India.  It is an erect herb growing up to 3 meters tall,  having stem horizontally striped at base; leaves narrowly lanceolate, dark green above, lighter green below; small leaves are present on the basal part; bracts green, with outer margin coloured maroon. Flowers yellow; lip with maroon striations, darker yellow stripe down the middle region; anther cream coloured. This plant is distributed along the coast from Mexico to Costa Rica and is locally known as cana agria or cana de jabali in Mexico. In Mexico, it is used to treat diseases of the kidney. It is reported to have effects on renal functions and its anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic  actions.  The  practitioners  in  Mexico used an infusion of this plant in the treatment of renal disorders; the plant also possesses diuretic activity. The plant was reported to contain flavonoids, saponins, reduced sugars and tannins.
The present study was undertaken to test the plant for its antidiabetic activities, toxicity of the extract on normal rats and the effect of the extract on the antioxidant enzymes, non- enzymatic  antioxidant,  carbohydrate metabolizing  enzymes and   lipid   profile.   Pharmacognostic   and   phytochemical analysis of the leaves were also conducted.
Insulin plant is a relatively new entrant to Kerala and India. Insulin plant has not got a Malayalam name yet, except the occasional use of insulin chedy or insulin chedi, where chedy means a plant. The catchphrase of this plant is ‘a leaf a day keeps diabetes away’.
The plant is characterized by large fleshy looking leaves. It grows very quickly. Propagation is by stem cutting. It grows in slightly shady areas.
Diabetes patients are advised to chew down a leaf in the morning and one in the evening for a month. Allopathic doctors too recommend it and it is found to be effective in bringing blood sugar levels under completely under control. There is also dried and ground powder of the leaves now available in the market.
* With FBS below 200, take ONE leaf daily before breakfast and drink a glass of water
* With FBS above 200, take TWO leaves in the morning and TWO at night on a daily basis.
 Preparation of aqueous extract
The leaves of C. pictus (Costaceae) were collected from Vadodara City, Gujarat. A Voucher specimen was deposited in the herbarium of the Botany department of M. S. University. For preparing the extract, 500 g of Fresh leaves were boiled in water for 30 min. The extract was then filtered and the process of boiling was repeated three times with the residue, each time collecting the extract. The collected extract was  pooled  and  passed  through  a  fine  muslin  cloth.  The filtrate upon evaporation at 40°C yielded 14.5% semi solid extract.
Lipids in the diabetic subjects is mainly due to an increase in the mobalization of free fatty acids from the peripheral fat deposit [34]. The hypolipidemic effect of C. pictus could be explained as a direct result of the reduction in blood glucose concentration.
The present findings suggest that the plant extract is non- toxic, since no marked changes were observed in the normal rats fed with the extract.  Thus, at normal therapeutic doses, the extract was considered to be safe for long-term treatment in diabetic condition. The leaf extract showed potent antidiabetic activity and the dose 400mg/kg body weight was more effective than 200 mg/kg body weight. 400 mg dose was all most equally effective with the standard drug glibenclamide.   Apart   from   this   the   plant   extract   also improved the activity of enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants, thereby scavenging the free radical that initiates the lipid peroxidation. The decreased level of urea, uric acid and creatinine in the treated rats clearly shows that the plant extract, protects the diabetic rats from alloxan induced renal damage.  The  plant  extract  also  lowered  the  plasma  lipid levels,   the   antihyperlipidemic   effect   of   the   extract   in particular can be considered as a possible therapeutic value. The result observed in all these parameters were statistically significant (p<0.05). Thus all these activities exhibited by the extract can be attributed to the presence of the active constituent of the plant. Longer duration studies of C. pictus extract and its isolated compounds are necessary to develop a potent antidiabetic drug.
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