Diabetes mellitus is a debilitating and often life-threatening disease with one cardinal finding hyperglycemia. Maintaining consistent glycemic control is essential for delaying disease progression and preventing micro- and macrovascular complications. Unfortunately, many patients are unable to achieve and maintain their glycemic goal. World Health Organization (WHO) & International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimate that about 8.8% of world population (425m) has diabetes and is projected to be 629m by 2045. Although presently developed countries have higher number of diabetic population, the developing countries will be hardest hit by escalating diabetes epidemic primarily due to urbanization, changing food habits and less physical activities. Considering all the above facts the UN general assembly on 20 Dec 2006 passed resolution 61/225 recognizing diabetes as a chronic debilitating and costly disease associated with major complications that pose severe risks for families, countries and the entire world. The Resolution also designated 14 Nov as the world diabetes day observed by IDF since 1991, and as the UN diabetes day from 2007.
Insulin is the only remedy for type 1 diabetes. For type 2 diabetes there are mainly two groups of medicines (Sulphonylureas and Metformins) used over the years. Acarbose and thiazoidinediones have also been used to a limited extent. These therapies have limited efficacy, limited tolerability and significant mechanism-based adverse effects. Therefore, search for improved antidiabetic drug has been continued throughout the world. Over the last several years the incretin-based therapies (GLP and GIP, DPP-IV inhibitors) have got significant importance although they are very much expensive. Therefore they remain far behind the reach of the common people of the developing countries.Therefore, there is a clear need for the development of alternative strategies for diabetes therapy. A multidisciplinary approach is essential to involve medical professionals, clinical and, chemical & biological scientists, and traditional healers. As more than 80% of the population of the developing countries depend on plant materials for their primary health care, it is imperative to scientifically evaluate the folkloric information on plant materials used for diabetes.