Use of herbal medicine for diabetes mellitus in adults from the central–western region of Mexico

Published:August 27, 2021DOI:


      • Self-medication of herbal medicine (HM) in west-central Mexico is high in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
      • The consumption of HM increases in the presence of complications derived from T2DM.
      • In patients who did not reach glycemic control, the consumption of HM was higher.



      This study aims to assess the prevalence of herbal medicine (HM) use and factors influencing HM usage including the identification of the main plants consumed by patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in central-western Mexico.


      A total of 1862 patients with diabetes were surveyed in public and private hospitals in four states (Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, and San Luis Potosi) of the central-western region of Mexico. The chi-square test was used to assess associations between HM use and demographic characteristics, such as glucose levels, presence of complications and comorbidities, as well as the selected therapy to treat T2DM.


      The prevalence of HM use (59.2%) in patients with T2DM was mainly associated with education level (p = 0.001), time of diagnosis of T2DM (p = 0.004), presence of complications (p < 0.001) and comorbidities (p = 0.018) and the use of insulin (p < 0.001). These patients report a higher consumption of herbal medicine compared to those on glycemic control (p < 0.001). The most frequently used medicinal plants to treat T2DM were nopal (54.9%), moringa (26.7%), and aloe (22.1%).


      The prevalence of HM use to treat T2DM in west-central Mexico is high (59.2%) and its consumption is mostly carried out without the recommendation of a health professional (91.9%). The use of HM increases mainly when the patient uses insulin, during complications of the disease or in patients with an inadequate glycemic control.


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