Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Liquorice root found to contain anti-diabetic substance

Date:
April 17, 2012
Source:
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Summary:
It provides the raw material for liquorice candy, calms the stomach and alleviates diseases of the airways: liquorice root. Chosen as the "Medicinal plant 2012," the root has been treasured in traditional healing since ancient times. Researchers have now discovered that liquorice root also contains substances with an anti-diabetic effect.

Licorice root.
Credit: Yves Roland / Fotolia

Researchers have discovered a promising anti-diabetic substance in the amorfrutin class of natural substances.

It provides the raw material for liquorice candy, calms the stomach and alleviates diseases of the airways: liquorice root. Chosen as the "Medicinal plant 2012," the root has been treasured in traditional healing since ancient times. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have now discovered that liquorice root also contains substances with an anti-diabetic effect. These amorfrutins not only reduce blood sugar, they are also anti-inflammatory and are very well tolerated. Thus, they may be suitable for use in the treatment of complex metabolic disorders.

Natural substances have a surprising and often largely unexploited potential in the prevention and treatment of common diseases. For example, liquorice root Glycyrrhiza contains different substances that help to alleviate disorders of the airways and digestive system. It has been used for millennia in traditional healing and is mainly administered in the form of tea. A team of researchers working with Sascha Sauer from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin has now discovered that the plant from the papilionaceae or leguminous family might also be effective in the treatment of adult (type 2) diabetes. The scientists identified a group of natural substances with an anti-diabetic effect, the amorfrutins, in the plant's edible root.

The substances, which have a simple chemical structure, are not only found in liquorice root, but are also in the fruit of the Amorpha fruticosa bush. The new anti-diabetic agents were named after this plant, which is native to the US, Canada and Mexico. As the researchers demonstrated using diabetic mice, the amorfrutins not only have characteristics that reduce blood sugar, they are also anti-inflammatory in their effect. Moreover, they also prevent fatty liver -- a common disease caused by excessively fat-rich nutrition.

"The health-beneficial effects are based on the fact that the amorfrutin molecules dock directly onto a receptor in the nucleus called PPARγ," explains Sascha Sauer. PPARγ plays an important role in the cell's fat and glucose metabolism. The binding of the amorfrutin molecules activates various genes that reduce the plasma concentration of certain fatty acids and glucose. The reduced glucose level prevents the development of insulin resistance -- the main cause of adult diabetes.

"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," says Sascha Sauer. In contrast, as demonstrated by the studies carried out to date, the amorfrutins are very well tolerated. "However, drinking liquorice tea or eating liquorice will not help to treat diabetes," explains the scientist. "The concentration of the substances in the tea and liquorice is far too low to be effective." The researchers therefore developed special 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 newly discovered active substances not only seem to hold great promise for the treatment of complex metabolic disorders, they may also be suitable for prophylactic use. "The amorfrutins can be used as functional nutritional supplements or as mild remedies that are individually tailored to the patient," says Sascha 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." To do this, the researchers must now test the effect of the substances and the plant amorfrutin extracts in clinical studies on diabetes patients.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Weidner, J. C. de Groot, A. Prasad, A. Freiwald, C. Quedenau, M. Kliem, A. Witzke, V. Kodelja, C.-T. Han, S. Giegold, M. Baumann, B. Klebl, K. Siems, L. Muller-Kuhrt, A. Schurmann, R. Schuler, A. F. H. Pfeiffer, F. C. Schroeder, K. Bussow, S. Sauer. Amorfrutins are potent antidiabetic dietary natural products. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1116971109

Cite This Page:

Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Liquorice root found to contain anti-diabetic substance." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417080431.htm>.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2012, April 17). Liquorice root found to contain anti-diabetic substance. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417080431.htm
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. "Liquorice root found to contain anti-diabetic substance." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120417080431.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins