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It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster - A group of scientists search the tropical jungles of Africa and discover a miracle plant that cures one of the world's leading killers. It may not be strictly true, yet, but even Hollywood has to get its inspiration from somewhere!

Hoslundia opposita is a small shrub from the mint family that grows throughout tropical Africa. It has brightly coloured fruit and is generally considered poisonous to human beings, although it has a history of use in traditional medicine, where it has been employed in the treatment of conditions as diverse as fractures and wounds, infections, psychiatric illness, liver problems, and poisoning.

As science has taken an increasing interest in traditional medicine, these remedies have been the subject of much research. Hosundia opposita has been investigated as an antimicrobial, an insecticide, and now a group of researchers in Africa have decided to investigate the effects of this versatile plant on diabetes.

The reseachers administered the essential oil extracted from Hosundia to both diabetic and non-diabetic rats once a day, for four days. While the oil had no effect on nondiabetic rats, the blood glucose levels, and the blood glucose clearance (as measured by a glucose tolerance test) in the diabetic rats was almost normal at the end of the trial. Examination of the organs showed that the livers of diabetic rats that were treated had almost normal levels of glycogen storage and only slight damage to the pancreas, unlike untreated diabetic rats, who showed severe pancreatic damage.

While results are very preliminary, they show that Hosundia has a lot of promise in the management of diabetes, and that this plant is worthy of a great deal more research. Maintaining insulin sensitivity is very important for bodybuilders and athletes. Not only is it associated with general health, but also with catabolism, performance, and the absorption of supplements like creatine. Many supplements contain ingredients like vanadyl sulfate to maintain stable blood glucose and increase the body's sensitivity to insulin. It would not be surprising if Hosundia were soon to join these ranks.

Akolade JO, Usman LA, Okereke OE, Muhammad NO. Antidiabetic Potentials of Essential Oil Extracted from the Leaves of Hoslundia opposita Vahl. J Med Food. 2014 Aug 19.

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