This study aimed to investigate medicinal plants used as complementary therapy by the elderly with diabetes mellitus, assisted by a Health Basic Unit in Pelotas (RS, Brazil). This qualitative research was conducted in July 2009. Eighteen 60 to 77 years old elderly (14 of them female) were interviewed. The participants identified 20 medicinal plants used as complementary therapies in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Among these, the most used ones to reduce the levels of glucose in the blood were Sphagneticola trilobata, Bauhinia spp. and Syzygium cumini. For the last two plants, there are scientific proofs of hypoglycemic effects. The infusion was the predominant form of preparation. Studies to investigate the pharmacological effects of plants used by the population have become very important, for providing scientific information on their possible health benefits and side effects.
complementary therapies; elderly; diabetes; medicinal plants