Antidiabetic potential of saffron and its active constituents
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The prevalence of diabetes mellitus is growing rapidly worldwide. This metabolic disorder affects many physiological pathways and is a key underlying cause of a multitude of debilitating complications. There is, therefore, a critical need for effective diabetes management. Although many synthetic therapeutic glucose-lowering agents have been developed to control glucose homeostasis, they may have unfavorable side effects or limited efficacy. Herbal-based hypoglycemic agents present an adjunct treatment option to mitigate insulin resistance, improve glycemic control and reduce the required dose of standard antidiabetic medications. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.), whilst widely used as a food additive, is a natural product with insulin-sensitizing and hypoglycemic effects. Saffron contains several bioactive β carotenes, which exert their pharmacological effects in various tissues without any obvious side effects. In this study, we discuss how saffron and its major components exert their hypoglycemic effects by induction of insulin sensitivity, improving insulin signaling and preventing β-cell failure, all mechanisms combining to achieve better glycemic control. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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