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Diabetes mellitus (DM) is the commonest endocrine disorder that affects more than 100 million people worldwide (6% of the population)(WHO/Acadia, 1992). It is caused by the deficiency or ineffective production of insulin by pancreas which results in increase or decrease in concentrations of glucose in the blood. It is found to damage many of the body systems, particularly the blood vessels and nerves. Many herbal plants with hypoglycemic properties are known from across the world. In India, diabetes has been known for a long time, but its incidence is not of the same magnitude across the subcontinent. The wide range of structures of the plant constituents, which appear to be the active hypoglycemic principles, suggests different sites of action within the body. Whether these plants truly possess hypoglycemic properties needs to be investigated for those plants that are commonly used in the management of diabetes. Researches conducted in the last few decades on plants, mentioned in ancient literature or used traditionally for diabetes, have shown antidiabetic property. Among them, 30 plants and their products (active natural principles and crude extracts) that have been mentioned used in the Indian traditional system of medicine have shown experimental or clinical antidiabetic activity. Trigonella foenumgraecum, Momordica charantia, Tinospora cordifolia, Enicostema littorae, Gymnema sylvestre, Azadirachta indica, Syzigium cumini are some of the most effective and the most commonly studied Indian plants in relation to diabetes. Based on possible mechanism of action, antidiabetic plants have been classified and described in this article.
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