Essential oils are complex mixtures of volatile and semivolatile secondary metabolites obtained by hydro-, steam- or dry-distillation or by a suitable mechanical process without heating (for Citrus fruits) of a plant or of some parts of it . Plant secondary metabolites are rich sources of bioactive compounds, but despite of this evidence, few studies are reported about the hypoglycemic activity of essential oil components. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by a difficulty in the maintenance of blood glycaemia. A possible therapeutic approach is the inhibition of α-amylase (i.e. a carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzyme), thus stopping carbohydrate digestion, and as a consequence reducing glycaemia. Examples of such inhibitors used in the clinical practice for treating diabetes are acarbose, miglitol and voglibose . The aim of this study is the screening of eighty-four essential oils obtained by distillation of different plant species and botanical families looking for new α-amylase inhibitors deriving from plant secondary metabolism. A bio-guided fractionation approach, based on an in vitro α-amylase inhibition assay, was adopted to isolate and identify the active fractions/compounds in different essential oils. Three essential oils (i.e. Eucalyptus radiata A.Cunn. ex DC., Laurus nobilis L. and Myristica fragrans Houtt.) resulted to be particularly active with an inhibitory capacity slightly higher than acarbose, chosen as positive control. An interesting number of both hydrocarbon and oxygenated compounds were characterized by a good -amylase inhibition, around 30% (i.e. 4-terpineol, linalool, α-terpineol and α-pinene). These preliminary results demonstrate that essential oils may represent a promising source of potential -amylase inhibitors.  European Pharmacopeia, 9th Edition, 2017.  Bailey CJ, New Approaches to the Pharmacotherapy of Diabetes, Vol. 2, 3rd Edition, Blackwell Science Ltd., UK (2003) p. 73.1-73.21
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