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Licorice holds key diabetes treatment: Study

Written by: QMI Agency
Apr. 17, 2012

Researchers have discovered an anti-diabetes substance in an unusual place -- the root of a licorice plant.

But it's not as surprising as you might think. Licorice root, or glycyrrhiza, has been used in traditional healing for hundreds of years and contains properties known to alleviate digestive disorders.

But it also contains amorfrutins, a diabetic substance also found in the fruit of the Amorpha fruticosa bush that can treat the symptoms of type-2 diabetes, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have discovered.

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It works by targeting onto a receptor in the nucleus called PPARy, which helps metabolize fat and glucose.

"Although there are already drugs on the market that affect the PPARy receptor, they are not selective enough in their effect and cause side effects like weight gain and cardio-vascular problems," said lead author Sascha Sauer in a press release.

She said that in preliminary tests, the licorice root has held up so far.

But that doesn't mean people can swap their insulin for tasty treats.

"Drinking licorice tea or eating licorice will not help to treat diabetes," she said. "The concentration of the substances in the tea and licorice is far too low to be effective."

Instead, the researchers have developed a special extract.

"The amorfrutins can be used as functional nutritional supplements or as mild remedies that are individually tailored to the patient," said Sauer. "In view of the rapid spread of metabolic diseases like diabetes, it is intended to develop these substances further so that they can be used on humans in the future."

 

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