Atriplex Halimus is an evergreen shrub that grows throughout the Mediterranean region, in the Middle East, northern Africa, and southern Europe. It reaches around 1.5 metres tall, and as its name suggests, is especially common in areas where the soil is saline. In the warmer spring weather it can be harvested in quantity.
It is a nutritious plant, high in protein, vitamins C, A and D, and minerals such as chromium.
Atriplex Halimus may prove useful in the treatment of type 2 (non-insulin-dependent or adult onset) diabetes. This benefit was discovered by medical researchers in 1964, when they discovered that a rodent called the sand rat is highly susceptible to developing diabetes, yet wild sand rats, which regularly consume atriplex, never show any signs of the disease. As a result, scientists have explored the possibility that it may have an anti diabetic effect.
Some researchers believe that this effect may be partly due to the chromium content - considerable evidence indicates that chromium supplementation can improve blood sugar control, especially in type 2 diabetes.
The results of animal and preliminary human trials suggest that atriplex does indeed have antidiabetic effects, however, due to the nature of the trials, the use of salt bush for diabetes remains speculative.