The antidiabetic, hypolipidemic, and antioxidant properties of Phyllanthus niruri (L) (Euphorbiaceae) were compared in normal, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), and non–insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) animals through evaluating the effects on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and antioxidant activities. The alcohol extract of Phyllanthus niruri produced significant antidiabetic effect in IDDM alone but lowered lipid profiles and improved body antioxidant activities in both IDDM and NIDDM animals. This investigation revealed that the lipid-lowering effect of Phyllanthus niruri is independent from its antidiabetic action.
Diabetes mellitus (DM) is one of the major health problems affecting a significant portion of the population worldwide (Zimmet et al., 2001). DM is classified as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and non– insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Both IDDM and NIDDM share most common symptoms such as long-term hyperglycemia leading to macrovascular and microvascular complications (Attele et al., 2002). It has been established that hyperglycemia is the principal cause of diabetic complications (Brownlee 2001). Although glucose levels are controlled by medication, atherosclerosis can still develop in diabetic patients (Steinberg et al., 2000), which is a potent independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) (American Diabetes Association, 1998). People with diabetes exhibit a pattern of dyslipidemia characterized by elevated triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (Resnick et al., 2002). In addition, diabetic conditions increase oxidative stress (Glugliano et al., 1996) and deplete antioxidant levels in the body (Fonseca et al., 2004). Therefore, improvement in glucose, lipid, and antioxidant profiles could be useful in management of diabetes and its complications.