Jamun: The Natural cure for Diabetes

The purity of the village life and the essence of our very root makes me nostalgic. It has been years since I had last visited my grandparents home in a summer vacation. Summer has its own aroma in the morning, birds eating fruits and chirping and enjoying the blissful rising sun. The smell of freshly ripened seasonal fruits awaken our taste buds. One of these early monsoon fruits is Jamun. These gorgeous trees can be found lushing in the Indian sub-continent. The tall trees are absolutely delightful to look at with their brown barks, mottled grey branches and dense canopy of glossy green leaves. However the even more fascinating thing about this tree is the abundance of its fruits, staining every human, bird and animal that enjoys them. I am pretty sure that most of you must have a memory with this local fruit called Jamun and its very attractive purple colour. I remember mine, when I used to frighten my siblings with that purple tongue. Children love this fruit not for the taste or the health benefits, but for the purple stain which it gives.

Jamun: The Natural cure for Diabetes

Recently, this fruit has grabbed much of the public attention due to its potency in controlling diabetes. Through this article I would like to draw your attention towards the natural remedial properties of this Indian fruit, i.e. Black plum, commonly known as Jamun and its significance in mythology.

Origin and history of Indian blackberry (Jamun):

Jamun are berries with a rough oblong shape. They have a dark purple to almost black skin with strikingly contrasting pink or white flesh. The flesh is extremely juicy and has a flavor that combines sweet and tart with a slightly astringent aftertaste. It is botanically known as Syzygium cumini which belongs to the family Myrtaceae and is indigenous to Indian subcontinent and its neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Indonesia. Jamun fruit is produced almost year-round in tropical and sub-tropical climates with a peak season in the summer.

In India, this fruit is also called Jambul or Jaam while in other countries they have different local names such as Java plum, Black plum, Lomboy, Duhat, and Indian blackberry.

In ancient Hindu and Buddhist cosmologies, this giant tree is kept at the centre of the world. Even the Puranas divide the Cosmos into seven continents, of which the centermost was called Jambudvipa, the island of Jambu or Jamun.

The mythological relevance of this tree is more fascinating. When lord Rama was exiled from Ayodhya, he lived on the jamun fruit, and this lore earned the fruit with a nickname “fruit of the Gods”. Another belief associated with this fruit is, where Lord Krishna’s beautiful skin is compared to the colour of the jamun, which is why most Krishna temples sport jamun trees in their compound. The jamun’s most enduring association is with Lord Shiva and is worshipped as Jambunath or Jambukeswara in Tiruchirapalli. The tree is even sacred to Buddhists who believe that it was under the jamun tree that Lord Buddha first started meditating. All these mythological relevances make this life bestowing tree of paramount importance.

Jambukeshwara Temple in Tiruchirapalli. CREDITS TO RESPECTIVE OWNER

This might seem fanciful, but the jamun tree does literally give life, because it fruits reliably and the fruits makes an important part of the diet for many birds and animals, while its flowers are used abundantly by bees for honey. Other trees may struggle through heat of Indian summers, but jamun remains leafy throughout.

Jamun, a popular remedy for Diabetes:

Diabetes is a disease which occurs when our blood glucose level is very high. The glucose present in our blood is the main source of energy and comes from the food we eat. But this glucose can only be utilized once it gets into our body cells. This sequestering job is fulfilled by a crucial hormone called Insulin, which is secreted by pancreas. Sometimes our body doesn’t make enough or any insulin or cannot utilize it properly. This is the case when glucose stays in our blood and cannot reach our cells thereby raising the blood glucose level. High glucose level over a long-period of time can cause damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues. Athough diabetes has no cure but we can take measures to bring this disease below its threshold level.

A less severe diabetes is also called- “a touch of sugar” or “borderline diabetes”. These terms suggest that the patient either doesn’t have diabetes or has a less serious and periodic occurrence.

One of most popular choice of managing diabetes nowadays at home is the use of Jamun seed powder. Before we go deep into the Science of this magestic fruit it is very important to know which type of diabetes can be cured via jamun seed powderThere are 3 common types of diabetes which are found in majority of population:

Type 1 diabetes:

In case of type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin. Our own saviours i.e. the protective immune cells attacks and destroys the cells in our pancreas that make insulin. Thus categorising it under an autoimmune disease where the T lymphocytes are involved in the destruction of β-cells of the pancreas and it has genetic predisposition. Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, although it can appear at any age. People with type 1 diabetes are prescribed to take insulin every day. 

Type 2 diabetes:

In case of type 2 diabetes, our body either does not make insulin or doesn’t use insulin efficiently. Such type of diabetes can occur at any age, even during childhood. However, this type of diabetes occurs most often in middle-aged and older people. The major reason behind being a victim of this type is unhealthy lifestyle. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes which can be managed via healthy routine life.

Gestational diabetes:

Gestational diabetes, develops in some women when they are pregnant. Most of the time, this type of diabetes goes away after the baby is born. However, if anyone had gestational diabetes, she can have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Sometimes diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is actually type 2 diabetes.

Jamun as anti-diabetic agent:

Out of these three major forms, Type II diabetes is highly prevalent and 90% of the world’s population is suffering from this disease. In most of the cases, obesity and development of peripheral resistance to insulin is the major cause. This is often accompanied by a malfunctioning pancreas. Several treatment options are available for diabetes in modern medicine, which are aimed to control the blood sugar level.

Plants have been employed as medicine since time immemorial, and there has been a recent resurgence in the use of plants as medicines due to their little or no toxicity at the doses used for treatment of different ailments. This article is all about one of the natural remedy which has occupied every corner of medical as well as Grocery stores.

Jamun, Syzygium cumini is that remedy used to control blood sugar and cholesterol levels and has gained popularity for being the most potent cure for this disease. Jamun is one of the medicinal plants that have been used in diverse traditional ethnomedicinal practices to treat various disorders in humans. Most common use is in case of diabetes and in dental, digestive, liver and skin disorders. Every part of this tree has its own importance. Lets have an insight into the active components of this fruit involved in controlling Diabetes.

Anti-diabetic activity of Jamun:

The bark, fruits and leaves of Jamun are reported to have hypoglycemic activity due to numerous phytochemicals present in them. The blood glucose lowering effect of jamun may be due to increased secretion of insulin from the pancreas or by inhibition of insulin degradation. According to Panda et al. (2009), stigmasterol, one of the active ingredients found in Jamun has significant effect on lowering serum glucose concentration with a concomitant increase in insulin level indicating it’s hypoglycemic and insulin stimulatory activity.

Lupeol , a phytoconstituent is known to suppress the progression of diabetes. Serum insulin level is elevated with lupeol treatment. Consequently it causes reduction of glycated haemoglobin, serum glucose and nitric oxide, thus lupeol works as a potential antidiabetic constituent.

A study reported that beta-sitosterol has antidiabetic activity though there was no evidence about the exact mechanism. However, the antihyperglycemic action may be due to the glycoside Jamboline in the seed of Jamun or due to ellagitannins (ETs), including corilagin, 3, 6-hexa hydroxyl diphenoyl glucose and its isomer 4, 6-hexahydroxy diphenoyl glucose, 1-galloylglucose, 3-galloylglucose, gallic acid, and ellagic acid (EA) which are the marker compounds for conferring anti-diabetic property. Yet another probable attribution of glycaemic control is due to glucosides Jamboline and Ellagic acid, as they were reported to have the ability to check the conversion of starch into sugar in case of excess production of glucose.

According to Uttara Singh, et al. (2012) Jamun possibly acts as a hypoglycemic agent by increasing insulin levels rather than just as an antihyperglycemic agent. This led to further discovery of possible mechanism by which seed brings about a decrease in blood sugar by potentiation of the insulin effect of plasma by increasing either the pancreatic secretion of insulin from β-cells of the islets of Langerhans or its release from the bound form.

Conclusion:

The Jamun (Syzygium cumini) belonging to family Myrtaceae has been used in traditional medicine for treatment of different ailments, including diabetes. Phytochemical evaluation has shown that Jamun contains alkaloids, anthroquinone glycosides, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, phenols, cardiac glycosides, terpenoids, phytosterols, steroids and amino acids. Several individual components of these phytochemicals have been isolated, as well.

Preclinical evaluation has shown that Jamun possesses several medicinal activities, including antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiallergic, antiinflammatory, antidiabetic, antihyperlipidemic, gastroprotective, cardioprotective, hepatoprotective, anticancer, and radioprotective.

Despite the above-listed beneficial and medicinal effects, however, Jamun has some adverse effects in humans. It lowers blood sugar, therefore, it should not be taken at 1 week before, or at a minimum of 2 weeks after surgery. Jamun should not be taken after drinking of milk and it should be avoided on an empty stomach. Breastfeeding mothers and pregnant women should also avoid eating Jamun. Eating excessive amounts of Jamun may cause coughing, sputum accumulation in the lungs, body aches and fever.

Take your call!!

It is very clear from the collective literature that Jamun has several medicinal properties, and its full potential to treat some of the important disorders of the modern world needs to be further explored. Despite the plethora of studies that indicate its antidiabetic potential, its clinical success seems to be a far cry. Although Jamun fruits are consumed, the toxic implications of Jamun need to be systematically determined in combination with other pharmacologic agents, which will help in realizing its full clinical potential. Finally, the teratogenic effects of Jamun have not been studied, which also indicates the need to thoroughly investigate this aspect in the near future.

References:

Also Read: Areca nut: “A drug of Use”

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