According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report released in June 2014, the number of people suffering from diabetes in the US in 2012 totaled 29.1 million, or 9.3% of the American population. This number is steadily increasing each year, with 25.8 million and 8.3% reported in 2010, respectively. In addition to health care costs increasing an average of 2.3 times per person, diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the US.
In contrast to type-1 diabetes in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, type-2 diabetes is characterized by the gradual inability to recognize and properly utilize insulin. Medications used to control type-2 diabetes target certain enzymes that are involved in insulin secretion and signaling, specifically dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPP-IV) and protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B).
According to researchers at the University of Illinois, compounds in Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare), marjoram (Origanum majorana), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) contain carnosol, hispidulin and naringenin and other flavonoid compounds that inhibit these enzymes. In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in June 2014, the researchers reported that greenhouse-grown rosemary, Mexican oregano and marjoram extracts were the best inhibitors of DPP-IV, while commercially-grown and dried rosemary, Mexican oregano, and marjoram were the best inhibitors of PTP1B. The best inhibitors of DPP-IV and potential deterrents for the development of type-2 diabetes were found to be commercial extracts of Greek oregano, Mexican oregano and rosemary.
Allyson M. Bower, Luis M. Real Hernandez, Mark A. Berhow, Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia. Bioactive Compounds from Culinary Herbs Inhibit a Molecular Target for Type 2 Diabetes Management, Dipeptidyl Peptidase IV. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2014; 62 (26): 6147 DOI: 10.1021/jf500639f