Several medicinal plants found in Quebec observed to hold potential for diabetes treatment

Diabetic nephropathy (DN) is one of the most common diabetes complications experienced by the people of the Cree nation in Canada. A team of researchers published their study in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine detailing their search for natural DN treatments that are readily available in the eastern James Bay area.

  • The researchers compiled a list of 17 plants included in their study:
    • Balsam fir – Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.
    • Speckled alder – Alnus incana subsp. rugosa (Du Roi) R.T. Clausen
    • Creeping snowberry – Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl.
    • Ground juniper – Juniperus communis L.
    • Sheep Laurel – Kalmia angustifolia L.
    • Tamarack – Larix laricina Du Roi (K. Koch)
    • Common clubmoss – Lycopodium clavatum L.
    • White spruce – Picea glauca (Moench) Voss
    • Black spruce – Picea mariana (P. Mill.) BSP
    • Jack pine – Pinus banksiana Lamb.
    • Balsam poplar – Populus balsamifera L.
    • Labrador tea – Rhododendron groenlandicum (Oeder) Kron and Judd
    • Northern Labrador tea – Rhododendron tomentosum (Stokes) Harmaja subsp. subarcticum (Harmaja) G. Wallace
    • Tealeaf willow – Salix planifolia Pursh
    • Pitcher plant – Sarracenia purpurea L.
    • Showy mountain ash – Sorbus decora (Sarg.) C.K. Schneid.
    • Mountain cranberry – Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.
  • They obtained extracts from specific parts of the plants.
  • The authors exposed cultures of Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells to a hypertonic medium to induce cellular damage. This was performed in the presence or absence of each of the 17 plant extracts’ maximal nontoxic concentrations.
  • After 18 hours, the cells were stained with Annexin V (AnnV) and propidium iodide (PI) and subjected to flow cytometry to evaluate the cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic effects of the extracts. They also took note of the extracts’ effects on caspases 3, 8, and 9.
  • The researchers identified Gaultheria hispidula and Abies balsamea as having the most potent cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic effects by blocking the activity of caspase 9 in the mitochondrial apoptotic signaling pathway.

They concluded that certain plants in the area do have cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic effects that may be useful as treatments for DN.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

Read about other natural treatments for diabetes complications at

Journal Reference:

Li S, Pasquin S, Eid HM, Gauchat J-F, Saleem A, Haddad PS. ANTI-APOPTOTIC POTENTIAL OF SEVERAL ANTIDIABETIC MEDICINAL PLANTS OF THE EASTERN JAMES BAY CREE PHARMACOPEIA IN CULTURED KIDNEY CELLS. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 30 January 2018;18(37). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-018-2104-1

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