The powder and decoction of Lycium shawii Roem and Schult (Solonaceae) aerial part are used as a folklore remedy in the treatment of diabetes by the local community in various parts of Saudi Arabia. In the present study, attempts were made to scientifically justify the alleged anti-diabetic efficacy of this plant and to evaluate its toxic potential. The 80% ethanol extract of L. shawii aerial parts was prepared. After evaporation of ethanol, it was freeze dried. A statistically significant blood glucose lowering effect was noticed in Long-Evans rats treated orally with 250 mg/kg (P<0.05) and 500 mg/kg body weight (P<0.001) of L. shawii extract. In addition, there was a significant decrease in blood glucose levels of animals treated with the extract juwith a simultaneous load of glucose (2.5 mg/kg). A significant (P<0.001) anti-diabetic effect was also observed in streptozotocin (STZ) diabetic rats. The data obtained clearly justified the claimed hypoglycemic activity of L. shawii. To demonstrate any toxic potential of L. shawii treatment, acute (24 h) and chronic (90 days) toxicity studies were conducted using mice as experimental model. Acute dosages were 0.5, 1.0 and 3 g/kg body weight (gavage) while chronic dosage was 100 mg/kg per day of the extract in drinking water. All morphological, biochemical, haematological and spermatogenic changes, in addition to mortality, body weight changes and any change in vital organs were recorded and compared with the respective control groups. Histopathological investigations were done on vital organs and compared with the control mice without treatment. L. shawii chronic treatment induced changes in body weight, biochemical and hematological parameters and was found to possess significant spermatatoxic potential.
Key words: Lycium shawii, blood glucose lowering potential, streptozotocin diabetes, toxicity biochemical and hematological effects.
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