Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Antihyperglycemic action of rhodiola-aqeous extract in type1-like diabetic rats

Chiang-Shan Niu1*, Li-Jen Chen2 and Ho-Shan Niu1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nursing, Tzu Chi College of Technology, Hualien City 97005, Taiwan

2 Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan City 70101, Taiwan

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:20  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-20

Published: 13 January 2014



Rhodiola rosea (Rhodiola) is a plant in the Crassulaceae family that grows in cold regions of the world. It is mainly used in clinics as an adaptogen. Recently, it has been mentioned that Rhodiola increases plasma β-endorphin to lower blood pressure. Thus, the present study aims to investigate the antidiabetic action of Rhodiola in relation to opioids in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats (STZ-diabetic rats).


In the present study, the plasma glucose was analyzed with glucose oxidase method, and the determination of plasma β-endorphin was carried out using a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The adrenalectomy of STZ-diabetic rats was used to evaluate the role of β-endorphin. In addition, quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and western blotting analysis were performed to investigate mRNA and protein expressions.


Rhodiola-water extract dose-dependently lowered the plasma glucose in STZ-diabetic rats and this action was reversed by blockade of opioid μ-receptors using cyprodime. An increase of plasma β-endorphin by rhodiola-water extract was also observed in same manner. The plasma glucose lowering action of rhodiola-water extract was attenuated in bilateral adrenalectomized rats. In addition, continuous administration of rhodiola-water extract for 3 days in STZ-diabetic rats resulted in an increased expression of glucose transporter subtype 4 (GLUT 4) in skeletal muscle and a marked reduction of phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK) expression in liver. These effects were also reversed by blockade of opioid μ-receptors.


Taken together, rhodiola-water extract improves hyperglycemia via an increase of β-endorphin secretion from adrenal gland to activate opioid μ-receptors in STZ-diabetic rats.

Adrenalectomy; Hyperglycemia; Opioid μ-receptor; Plasma glucose; Rhodiola-water extract