BACKGROUND: No study to date has investigated the effect of different polar solvent extracts from Cnidoscolus aconitifolius leaves on glycemic control as used in folk medicine. Hence this study which investigated the effect of ethanol extract and fractions of C. aconitifolius leaves on body weights, relative organ weights, serum levels of glucose, lipid profiles and insulin in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats and on oral glucose tolerance of normoglycemic rats.
METHODS: The ethanol extract was partitioned using methanol, hexane and chloroform to obtain different fractions.
RESULTS: The ethanol extract, fractions or glibenclamide demonstrated hypoglycemic/therapeutic actions as seen from the reduction of serum glucose but increase in serum insulin and body weights of the diabetic rats at the end of experimentation following their administration, unlike the diabetic control that had significant alteration of these parameters with respect to the normal control. Whereas the diabetic control had significant increase in pancreatic weights with no alteration in the heart weights, the ethanol extract, fractions or glibenclamide had no effect on these organs. The ethanol extract, methanol fractions or glibenclamide showed better hypoglycemic actions than the n-hexane or chloroform fractions at the doses used and results obtained were corroborated by histology. Furthermore, the ethanol extract, n-hexane (at 250mg/kg) and methanol fractions or glibenclamide improved glucose tolerance in glucose loaded normal rats. The methanol fraction (500mg/kg) demonstrated anti-hypercholesterolemic, anti-hypertriglyceridemic and insulin modulatory properties in a manner akin to glibenclamide. Acute toxicity study revealed the non toxicity of the plant CONCLUSION: The study justifies the use of polar solvent extracts of this plant in the management of diabetes mellitus.