Anti-diabetic substance found in Liquorice Root

As the incidence of type 2 Diabetes and Obesity increases so does the need for management methods. Current pharmaceutical agents have a plethora of adverse side effects increasing the need for research into possible natural alternatives.

Historically Liquorice root has been used in traditional healing since ancient times, mainly in the form of tea. Utilized in ailments such as infertility, constipation, diseases of the airways, calming the stomach, herpes and adrenal depletion.

Current research at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin has found that Liquorice root contains amorfrutins. Amorfrutins exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, decrease blood sugar levels and above all they accomplish this without significant adverse effects.

Amofrutins were found to bind and activate a nuclear receptor protein (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ)) that affects glucose and lipid metabolism; important factors in type 2 Diabetes. The researchers concluded that this approach shows promise in metabolic disease.

Sascha Sauer from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin stated “Although there are already drugs on the market that affect the PPARγ receptor, they are not selective enough in their effect and cause side effects like weight gain and cardio-vascular problems.”

PPARγ contributes to fat and glucose metabolism by the amorfrutin molecules binding to this protein and activating various genes that reduce the plasma concentration of fatty acids and glucose. By reducing glucose levels we can prevent the development of insulin resistance, which is the main cause of adult diabetes.

Sascha Sauer explains that “The health-beneficial effects are based on the fact that the amorfrutin molecules dock directly onto a receptor in PPARγ”

Amorfrutin are not only found in liquorice root, but are also in the fruit of the Amorpha fruticosa bush; it was after this plant that the new anti-diabetic agents got their name.

The researchers also developed an extraction processes to obtain the amorfrutins from the plant in sufficient concentrations. This could be used to produce amorfrutin extracts on an industrial scale.

The researchers concluded that the active substance showed promise and further research will no doubt be undertaken.

Article reference

Weidner C, de Groot J.C, et al (2012) Amorfrutins are potent antidiabetic dietary natural products. PNAS, published online before print April 16, 2012, doi: 10.1073.




1 Comment

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