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J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Dec 12;150(3):935-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.09.027. Epub 2013 Oct 1.

Anti-hyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of Cistanche tubulosa in type 2 diabetic db/db mice.

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Food and Health Engineering Research Center of State Education Ministry, School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, PR China. Electronic address:



The dried succulent stem of Cistanche tubulosa (Schenk) R. Wight is one component of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions for diabetes. However, there have been no modern scientific reports to confirm this traditional claim for the Cistanche species until now. Thus, we investigated the effects of Cistanche tubulosa on glucose homeostasis and serum lipids in male BKS.Cg-Dock7(m) +/+ Lepr(db)/J (db/db) mice, a model of type 2 diabetes.


The verbascoside and echinacoside contents of Cistanche tubulosa powder were evaluated using HPLC. The total phenolic content, polysaccharide content and antioxidant activity of Cistanche tubulosa powder were also evaluated. Then, different doses of Cistanche tubulosa (equivalent to 120.9, 72.6 or 24.2mg verbascoside/kg) were administered orally once daily for 45 days to male db/db mice. Age matched db/+ mice were used as normal controls. Body weight, fasting blood glucose, postprandial blood glucose and insulin tolerance test were measured during the experiment. At the time of sacrifice, blood was collected for measurement of insulin level, the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and total cholesterol, triglyceride, HDL-c, LDL-c and VLDL-c levels; liver and muscle were harvested for measurement of glycogen levels.


Cistanche tubulosa significantly suppressed the elevated fasting blood glucose and postprandial blood glucose levels, improved insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, and suppressed body weight loss in db/db mice. However, Cistanche tubulosa did not significantly affect serum insulin levels or hepatic and muscle glycogen levels.


This study provides scientific evidence for the traditional use of Cistanche tubulosa to treat diabetes, suggesting that Cistanche tubulosa has the potential for development into a functional food ingredient or drug to prevent hyperglycemia and treat hyperlipidemia.


AB; Anti-hyperglycemic effect; BW; CT; Cistanche tubulosa; DM; Diabetes mellitus; FBG; FINS; Fasting Serum Insulin Level; HDL-c; HOMA-IR; Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance; Hypolipidemic effect; ITT; LDL-c; PPRC; PhGs; Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China; RG; TC; TG; Type 2 diabetes; VLDL-c; acarbose; body weight; fasting blood glucose; high-density lipoprotein cholesterol; insulin tolerance test; low-density lipoprotein cholesterol; phenylethanoid glycosides; rosiglitazone; total cholesterol; triglycerides; very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol

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