The remarkable anti-diabetic effects of a traditional Ayurvedic remedy

Many parts of the red sandalwood (Adenanthera pavonina) have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to treat various diseases. Sri Lankan researchers reported that an extract derived from the leaves of this popular tree can alleviate the symptoms of diabetes and provide antioxidant activity.

The study was funded by the University of Peradeniya. The results were published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

  • Red sandalwood is an important part of Ayurvedic medicine in Sri Lanka. It is one of the many medicinal plants that are being screened for safe and effective use.
  • Air-dried and powdered red sandalwood leaves were extracted using methanol. The leaf extract was further fractionated using petroleum ether, creating an ethyl acetate extract and an aqueous extract.
  • The different leaf extracts were assayed for their inhibition of the alpha-amylase enzyme that digests glycogen and starch, their ability to scavenge the free radical DPPH, and the total amount of phenols present in each one. The methanol extract’s toxicity to living cells was tested using brine shrimp.
  • The methanol, ethyl acetate, petroleum ether, and water extracts of the red sandalwood were able to inhibit alpha-amylase at a similar level to acarbose, an anti-diabetic drug used to treat diabetes mellitus and prediabetes.
  • Among the extracts, the ethyl acetate fraction displayed the highest amount of phenols. It also demonstrated the best antioxidant activity as it scavenged the largest amount of DPPH free radical.

The researchers concluded that the leaves of the red sandalwood tree can be safely consumed as a green vegetable for its health benefits. Future research should isolate the ingredients responsible for its anti-diabetic properties.

Read up on more Ayurvedic medicinal plants at

Journal Reference:

Wickramaratne MN, Punchihewa JC, Wickramaratne DBM. IN-VITRO ALPHA AMYLASE INHIBITORY ACTIVITY OF THE LEAF EXTRACTS OF ADENANTHERA PAVONINA. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2016;16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-016-1452-y.

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