Bratawali (Tinospora cordifolia) is a well known plant in Indonesia. Bratawali is often used as jamu paitan, or Javanese traditional herbal drink, which has a bitter taste. When making jamu paitan, the stems extract of bratawali, is often mixed with mint leaves.
Common bratawali names include, brotowali, putrawali, daun gadel (Javanese), andawali (Sundanese), antawali (Balinese), shen jin teng, kuan jin teng (Chinese), guduchi, guluchi, amritavalli, amrta, cinnodbhava, gulvel (India). Bratawali is common used in Ayurvedic, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as a herbal remedy.
The Javanese's jamu paitan makers often promote bratawali, as a herbal remedy for lowering the risk of having diabetes, and also as a blood cleansing agent. Below are some studies which demonstrated the effects of bratawali.
Study by Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was conducted to determine the effect of ethanolic extract of the dried stems of bratawali, in a male rat model of hepatic fibrosis, caused by the hepatotoxin, thioacetamide.
The results showed a significant increase in the activity of liver enzymes, bilirubin and G-glutamyl transferase and gross. The histopathological changes were also determined. (Kadir FA, et al. 2011)
Diabetes mellitus often leads to disability from vascular complications and neurological complications. A study by Institute of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, was investigated the hypoglycemic actions of borapetoside C isolated from bratawali.
Three groups of mice were used in the study, normal mice, type 1 diabetes mellitus mice, and type 2 diabetes mellitus mice. Overall, the study proved that borapetoside C can increase glucose utilization, delayed the development of insulin resistance and enhanced insulin sensitivity.
The activation of IR-Akt-GLUT2 expression, and the enhancement of insulin sensitivity, may contribute to the hypoglycemic action of borapetoside C, in diabetic mice. (Ruan CT, et al. 2012)
Recent follow up study by Ruan CT, et al. aimed to explore the hypoglycemic effects of borapetoside A, the most active diterpenoid among others (borapetosides B, and C), which isolated from the ethanol extract of bratawali.
The study resulted that borapetoside A was shown to increase the glycogen content and decrease the plasma glucose concentration, in a concentration, or dose-dependent manner, both in vitro, and in vivo.
The hypoglycemic effects in the normal mice, and the mice with type 2 diabetes mellitus were associated with the increases of the plasma insulin levels. But, the insulin levels remained unchanged in the mice with type 1 diabetes mellitus. (Ruan CT, et al. 2013)
A study by Department of Physiology, Faculty of Science, Prince of Songkla University, Hat-Yai, Songkhla, Thailand, was aimed to identify the active components of bratawali extract, and to investigate the mechanisms of the actions, on blood pressure, and heart rate, in anesthetized rats.
Five active compounds, adenosine, uridine, salsolinol, higenamine, and tyramine, which were isolated from bratawali, acted in concert on the cardiovascular system of anesthetized rats. (Praman S, et al. 2012)
Follow up study by Praman S, et al. resulted that bratawali extract caused an increase in the force of contraction of the electrical field stimulated left atrium. The study concluded that crude extracts of bratawali exert a positive inotropic effect, on the electrical field stimulated isolated left atria.
The results were also from the concerted actions of five bratawali bioactive compounds: higenamine, salsolinol, tyramine, adenosine and uridine. (Praman S, et al. 2013)
Although several studies using rats or mice were successfully, but not in human study. So far, I only managed to find a study by Department of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. The study aimed to determine the effects of bratawali on serum glucose, and insulin levels, in healthy subjects, and patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Serum from ten healthy subjects, and ten diabetic participants, who had fasted overnight. The serums were obtained every 30 to 60 minutes during the 3 hours of continued fasting, and during the 3 hours after ingestion of 75g of glucose. With or without ingestion of 125g, or 250g of bratawali dry powder capsule. Glucose, and insulin levels were analyzed. The areas under the curve for mean serum glucose, and insulin levels, were also calculated.
Both healthy and diabetic participants were not significantly different between with, or without bratawali dry powder capsule. The results suggested that bratawali ingestion cannot affect serum glucose, and insulin levels, in healthy subjects, or patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. (Klangjareonchai T, et al. 2012)
Further studies using human subjects are needed to give more valuable information, in regarding the health benefits of bratawali.
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