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Galega officinalis

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Galega officinalis, commonly known as galega,<ref name=GRIN>Template:Cite web</ref> goat's-rue,<ref name=BSBI07>Template:Cite web</ref> French lilac,<ref name = AP>Template:Cite journal</ref> Italian fitch,<ref name = AP/> or professor-weed,<ref name = AP/> is an herbaceous plant in the Faboideae subfamily. It is native to the Middle East, but it has been naturalized in Europe, western Asia, and western Pakistan. The plant has been extensively cultivated as a forage crop, an ornamental, a bee plant and as green manure.<ref name=invasive>Template:Cite document</ref> However, the plant has proved too toxic for widespread agricultural use, with the potential to induce tracheal frothing, pulmonary oedema, hydrothorax, hypotension, paralysis and death.<ref name= Bailey >Bailey CJ, Campbell IW, Chan JCN, Davidson JA, Howlett HCS, Ritz P (eds). 2007. Metformin: the Gold Standard. A Scientific handbook; Chichester: Wiley. Chapter 1: Galegine and anti diabetic plants</ref>

Its name derives from gale (milk) and ega (to bring on), as Galega has been used as a galactogogue in small domestic animals (hence the name "Goat's rue"). Galega bicolor is a synonym. It is a hardy perennial that blooms in the summer months.

G. officinalis is used as a food plant by the larva of Coleophora vicinella, a species of moth.



In 1891, G. officinalis was introduced to Cache County, Utah, for use as a forage crop.Template:Cn It escaped cultivation and is now a weed and agricultural pest, though it is still confined to that county. As a result it has been placed on the Federal Noxious Weed List in the United States. It was collected in Colorado, Connecticut and New York prior to the 1930s, and in Maine and Pennsylvania in the 1960s, but no more collections have been made in these areas since and the populations are presumed to have died out. It has also been found in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and New Zealand.<ref name=invasive/>


G. officinalis has been known since the Middle Ages for relieving the symptoms of diabetes mellitus. Upon analysis, it turned out to contain compounds related to guanidine, a substance that decreases blood sugar by mechanisms including a decrease in insulin resistance, but were too toxic for human use. Georges Tanret identified an alkaloid from this plant, galegine, that was less toxic, and this was evaluated in unsuccessful clinical trials in patients with diabetes in the 1920s and 1930s.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref><ref name= Bailey/>

Other related compounds were being investigated clinically at this time, including biguanide derivatives. This work led ultimately to the discovery of metformin (Glucophage), currently used for the management of diabetes<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> and the older agent phenformin.<ref>Salpeter S, Greyber E, Pasternak G, Salpeter E. Risk of fatal and nonfatal lactic acidosis with metformin use in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD002967.</ref> The study of galegine and related molecules in the first half of the 20th century is regarded as an important milestone in the development of oral antidiabetic pharmacotherapy.<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>

Galega officinalis - from Thomé
Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885



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  • This page was last modified on 2 August 2015, at 19:00.
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