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Rosemary and Oregano, Culinary Herbs, Contain Compounds that Fight Diabetes: Study

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Published on : Jul 29, 2014

Research by scientists at the American Chemical Society has found that popular cooking herbs rosemary and oregano are full of compounds that have the same effect on humans as prescription anti-diabetic drugs. These findings of lab tests were published in the latest edition of ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The study also found that the way these herbs are grown could affect the presence of these compounds. Scientists were able to zero-in on compounds expected to bear the most promising anti-diabetes properties.

In the study, Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia and colleagues observe that as of 2012, about 8% of Americans were estimated to be affected by type-2 diabetes, costing the country USD 175 billion. Diabetics typically resort to dietary changes, an exercise regimen, or medication to keep their blood sugar level in check. However, many find it difficult to stick to these lifestyle changes and others find prescription drugs expensive. The findings of this latest study could pave the way for a natural remedy to keep blood glucose level in check. 

As part of the study, the team tested four different types of herbs that were either grown in greenhouses or were in a dried form, which is commercially available.  The team then took a closer look at the ability of these herbs to interfere with an enzyme that is related to diabetes – this particular enzyme is also targeted by the prescription drugs administered to diabetics. 

The study reports that a higher amount of falvonoids and polyphenols occurred in herbs grown in greenhouses as compared to the dried, commercially-available herbs. However, this aspect did not seem to affect the required concentration to interfere with the enzyme. The study found that commercial extracts of Mexican rosemary and oregano, and Greek oregano inhibited the enzyme better than greenhouse-cultivated herbs, thus showing the potential to reduce type-2 diabetes risk. The scientists said that this study needs to be explored further to obtain more substantial results.