Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycaemia together with biochemical alterations of glucose and lipid metabolism. This chronic disorder arises as a result of insufficient production of the pancreatic β-cells hormone insulin or inadequate utilization of insulin. Two major types of diabetes mellitus reported to increase mortality and morbidity are the type I commonly known as insulin – dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and type 2, also called non-insulin – dependent – diabetes mellitus (NIDDM).
At least 80% of Africans depend on herbal medicine for their health care. The high cost, low availability, uncertainty of use during pregnancy and undesirable side effects of synthetic drugs have been some of the factors leading to a preference for hypoglycaemic drugs of plant origin, which are believed to be suitable for chronic treatments. Herbal preparations with anti-diabetic potentials are growing in popularity.