This year’s World Diabetes Day, (November 14) falls during a global pandemic of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) which has already taken the lives of over a million people. Patients with underlying diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, severe obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD) have been proven to be at higher risk of complications and death than others because of their compromised immunity.
According to recently published studies, patients suffering from Type-2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) have been hospitalized more than patients with non-T2DM, with severe forms and poor prognosis of COVID-19. It was estimated that nearly 20-50 percent of patients infected with COVID-19 have diabetes.
Hyperglycemia and inflammation are the possible causes of severity and high mortality rates of COVID-19 in diabetic patients. Therefore, managing the hyperglycemia would result in the reduction of the cytokines serum level and improvement of the prognosis in COVID-19 patients.
With no vaccine or specifically-approved drug available to eradicate the deadly viral disease, anti-oxidative herbal medicines with evidence-based useful impacts in the treatment of diabetes can be used as an adjuvant therapy to the conventional treatment of diabetic COVID-19 patients, according to researchers in Tehran.
The researchers, however, noted that better designed experimental and clinical studies are urgently required to confirm their beneficial effects.
In a review published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), they said “anti-oxidative herbal medicines can be used as adjuvant to currently prescribed drugs to treat coronavirus in patients with diabetes and also can be considered as a suitable source to identify novel therapeutic agents for COVID-19”.
“Certain herbs work as antioxidants and check free radicals apart from maintaining normal blood glucose levels,” Dr. A K S Rawat, former senior scientist with CSIR- National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), said.
Dr. Rawat also referred to anti-diabetic herbal formulation, BGR-34, a formulation of six medicinal plants viz. Daruharidra, Giloy, Vijaysar, Gudmar, Manjeestha and Methi, which are known as diabetes prevention herbs and lower blood sugar levels.
“The intake of BGR-34 collectively releases 34 active phytoconstituents in the recipient body that helps manage the sugar level in the blood,” added Dr. Rawat.
The formulation has been scientifically developed by NBRI in collaboration with the Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plant (CIMAP), both Lucknow-based CSIR labs.
Commercially manufactured by New Delhi-based Aimil Pharmaceuticals (I) Ltd., BGR-34 has shown therapeutic efficacy in treating newly diagnosed Type-2 diabetes, as found in independent clinical trials conducted at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi last year.
As the world observes November 14 as Diabetes Day, Dr. Rawat further said that herbal ingredients like Giloy used in BGR-34 also corrects immunity, while compounds in Dharuharida help in insulin release in Type-2 diabetic patients.
Based on the 2019 International Diabetes Federation (IDF) report, in 2019, 463 million adults were living with diabetes; and the figure is expected to rise to 578 million by 2030.