According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 9.3% of the US population has diabetes – and the numbers are only rising(1).
A safe and effective means of preventing and treating diabetes is needed now more than ever, and some researchers believe that the key may lie with a pair of common herbs.
Safe And Effective
A recent study from the American Chemical Society, published in the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry, found that the common herbs rosemary and oregano could inhibit an enzyme known as dipeptidyl peptidase IV, which promotes the secretion of insulin.
This enzyme has researchers thinking that these herbs could have a role to play in preventing and even treating diabetes(2).
The researchers tested four different herbs, looking at both greenhouse-grown and freeze dried commercial versions. They found that fresh herbs contained more polyphenols and flavonoids compared to the dried commercial herbs – but that doesn’t mean the dried herbs weren’t effective enzyme inhibitors.
In fact, “Commercial extracts of Greek oregano, Mexican oregano and rosemary were better inhibitors of the enzyme, required to reduce risk of type-2 diabetes, than greenhouse-grown herbs,” according to a recent press release(3).
The health benefits of oregano and rosemary don’t seem to end there. They both have active anti-inflammatory qualities, according to one 2011 study(4).
Furthermore, “A growing body of epidemiological and preclinical evidence points to culinary herbs and spices as minor dietary constituents with multiple anticancer characteristics”, according to one review(5) – which included oregano and rosemary among the list of herbs studied for potential anti-cancer benefits.
Preventing Age-Related Cognitive Decline
And herbs like rosemary and oregano don’t just inhibit diabetes and potentially prevent cancer – recent animal model studies have shown that they can also prevent age-related cognitive decline in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
In findings presented at the conference Neuroscience 2013, extracts from rosemary were shown to “reduce deficits caused by mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precurser to Alzheimer’s disease”(6).
The herbs tested in this study also “reduced oxidative stress, which is considered a hallmark of age-related decline, in the part of the brain that controls learning and memory.”
A Preventative Measure
The exciting thing about these newly-discovered benefits of oregano and rosemary is that these herbs are safe – not only do they work, but you can consume them even in large quantities without any ill effects.
They’re also great to cook with, so they’re easy to incorporate into your everyday diet. Staple herbs in the mediterranean diet – a diet which is associated with lower risk of heart disease and obesity – these ingredients can add a flavorful kick to daily meals.
If these new studies can be replicated and validated in the scientific community, they could have major implications for the way we treat diabetes, cancer, and the development of Alzheimer’s disease.[mks_toggle title=”sources” state=”close “]