The Gabonese traditional medicine, Tabernanthe Iboga improves glucose control in type 2 diabetes

A key goal in diabetes research is to improve blood glucose and insulin levels in people who live with type 2 diabetes.

In African communities, such as Gabon, more than 60% of the population rely on plant remedies as primary healthcare, due to high availability and low cost, with limited scientific evidence for the safe range of doses for long term use. The root bark of Tabernanthe Iboga and its preparations are widely used in Gabon to control diabetes in type 2 diabetic patients, where the prevalence of diabetes has reached 5% of the population.

Working with the IPHAMETRA institute in Gabon, we have identified novel constituents in Tabernanthe Iboga using plant metabolomics and demonstrated how extracts can stimulate insulin release from pancreatic cells and normalise blood glucose and lipid levels in a type 2 model of diabetes in rats.

This research demonstrates how using animal-free methods alongside laboratory animals with type 2 diabetes has provided clear translational value for the safe and effective long term use of Tabernanthe Iboga in Gabon, as well as having a positive social impact by improving the health and wellbeing of people living with type 2 diabetes.

We are now working with scientists at the University of Brighton and the IPHAMETRA Institute to define the novel active constituents in Tabernanthe Iboga using bioengineered human derived pancreatic cells and computational chemistry as the next step to improving treatment in Gabon and other African nations.

Publication: Phytochemical characterization of Tabernanthe iboga root bark and its effects on dysfunctional metabolism and cognitive performance in high-fat-fed C57BL/6J mice. J. Food Bioact. 3: 111–123.