Researchers from Malaysia suggest that leaf extracts of betel plant (Piper betle) can promote speedy healing of wounds. The researchers mainly focused the patients of diabetes in their study. They suggest that the ability of the plant extract to aid healing of wounds can be beneficial for the diabetic patients.
The team of researchers belonged to the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). They have come up with evidence that betel leaves improve the healing of wounds on diabetic rats. The study was conducted in 2010. It states that the leaves of betel could augment the total protein content, speeding up the contraction of the wound.
In addition to the healing abilities of the plant, the researchers also evaluated the extracts’ effects on oxidative stress markers.
Diabetes comes with a lot of health complications. One of the most common problems faced by diabetic people is “slower healing of wounds.” Their wounds heal much slower than normal. This delayed healing process may be an outcome of high levels of reactive oxygen species in diabetics. These oxygen radicals exert oxidative stress, disrupting the balance between oxidant and antioxidant enzymes within the body.
In addition, diabetes hinders the actions of antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase. Moreover, it increases the peroxidation of lipids, enhancing the content of reactive oxygen species.
Diabetes also promotes the activity of the stress enzyme called “11 beta HSD-1.” This enzyme is reportedly allied to slower and delayed wound healing. The enzyme works by inhibiting the important paths of the healing process. For example, it hampers the growth of new cells. Plus, it inhibits the arrival of material proteins that can help patch up the wound.
Diabetic rats healed faster when treated with betel leaf extract
The researchers of the study employed diabetic rat models for the study. Wounds were inflicted on the backs of the animals. The animal models were divided into,
- A control group
- An untreated group
- Two treatment groups
The conventional group received silver nitrate cream treatment. However, the extract group was given with topical ointment made from betel leaf extract.
The treatment continued for around seven days. First, the researchers analyzed the wounds and various biochemical parameters of some of the rats on the third day of the treatment. These parameters included enzyme activity and oxidative stress levels. At the end of the treatment, the rest of the animals underwent evaluation.
The results of the study reported that betel leaf extract exhibited notable beneficial effects for the diabetic rats. It increased the levels of hydroxyproline that helps to stabilize the collagen protein that makes up the skin.
Moreover, the extract promoted healthy levels of superoxide dismutase i.e. responsible for the antioxidant activity. At the same time, it lowered the levels of malondialdehyde which serves as a biomarker for oxidative stress caused by lipid peroxidation.
The expression of 11 beta HSD-1 was also reduced which negatively impacted the delayed healing processes.
Thus, the researchers concluded that leaf extract from betel has antioxidant effects, improving the healing of wounds in animals with Type 2 diabetes mellitus.
The betel leaves have antioxidant properties
The betel is traditionally used as a medicinal plant in Asia. It is often used to treat asthma, bad breath, cough, clogged throats, and ozoena. Moreover, it stops the bleeding and supports the appropriate healing of wounds.
A study by the researchers from the University of Calcutta, in 2003, revealed the therapeutic properties of the plant. They attributed various healing properties of the betel plant to its leaves. The study disclosed the anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities of the plant.
Researchers encourage further studies regarding the subject in order to provide stronger evidences with detailed scientific mechanisms behind the subject.