Tibetan Medicine for Diabetes Mellitus: Overview of Pharmacological Perspectives

Li Shan Yan, Brian Chi Yan Cheng, Shuo Feng Zhang, Gan Luo, Chao Zhang, Qing Gao Wang, Xiu Qiong Fu, Yi Wei Wang, Yi Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Diabetes mellitus (DM) and its complications pose a major public health threat which is approaching epidemic proportions globally. Current drug options may not provide good efficacy and even cause serious adverse effects. Seeking safe and effective agents for DM treatment has been an area of intensive interest. As a healing system originating in Tibet, Traditional Tibetan Medicine (TTM) has been widely used by Tibetan people for the prevention and treatment of DM and its complications for hundreds of years. Tibetan Materia Medica (TMM) including the flower of Edgeworthia gardneri (Wall.) Meisn., Phyllanthi Fructus, Chebulae Fructus, Huidouba, and Berberidis Cortex are most frequently used and studied. These TMMs possess hypoglycemic, anti-insulin resistant, anti-glycation, lipid lowering, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidative effects. The underlying mechanisms of these actions may be related to their α-glucosidase inhibitory, insulin signaling promoting, PPARs-activating, gut microbiota modulation, islet β cell-preserving, and TNF-α signaling suppressive properties. This review presents a comprehensive overview of the mode and mechanisms of action of various active constituents, extracts, preparations, and formulas from TMM. The dynamic beneficial effects of the products prepared from TMM for the management of DM and its complications are summarized. These TMMs are valuable materia medica which have the potential to be developed as safe and effective anti-DM agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number748500
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

User-Defined Keywords

  • diabetes mellitus
  • diabetic complications
  • insulin resistance
  • pharmacology
  • tibetan material medica


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