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Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2012 Mar;16(3):269-97. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2012.664134. Epub 2012 Feb 24.

Antidiabetic effects of natural plant extracts via inhibition of carbohydrate hydrolysis enzymes with emphasis on pancreatic alpha amylase.

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University of Navarra, Department of Nutrition, Food Science, Physiology and Toxicology, C/Irunlarrea, 1 31008, Pamplona, Spain.



The increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and the negative clinical outcomes observed with the commercially available anti-diabetic drugs have led to the investigation of new therapeutic approaches focused on controlling postprandrial glucose levels. The use of carbohydrate digestive enzyme inhibitors from natural resources could be a possible strategy to block dietary carbohydrate absorption with less adverse effects than synthetic drugs.


This review covers the latest evidence regarding in vitro and in vivo studies in relation to pancreatic alpha-amylase inhibitors of plant origin, and presents bioactive compounds of phenolic nature that exhibit anti-amylase activity.


Pancreatic alpha-amylase inhibitors from traditional plant extracts are a promising tool for diabetes treatment. Many studies have confirmed the alpha-amylase inhibitory activity of plants and their bioactive compounds in vitro, but few studies corroborate these findings in rodents and very few in humans. Thus, despite some encouraging results, more research is required for developing a valuable anti-diabetic therapy using pancreatic alpha-amylase inhibitors of plant origin.

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