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Licorice contains substances that work against diabetes. Is this a well-tolerated cure for diabetes?
The licorice root Glycyrrhiza has been used for decades in respiratory or stomach diseases. Now a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin has realized that the plant can also help with adult diabetes (type II diabetes). They have identified a new group of natural substances with an anti-diabetic effect in the root of the licorice plant: the amorfrutine.
Hypoglycemic and anti-inflammatory As the researchers have shown in diabetic mice, the amorfrutins not only have hypoglycemic properties, they also have anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, they even prevent fatty liver. The health-promoting effects are based on the fact that the amorfrutin molecules specifically dock onto a receptor called PPARγ in the cell nucleus. PPARγ plays an important role in the cell's fat and glucose metabolism. The binding of the amorfrutin molecules activates various genes that lower the plasma concentration of certain fatty acids and that of glucose. The reduced glucose level prevents the development of insulin resistance - the main cause of adult diabetes.
Well tolerated According to previous studies, the amorfrutins are extremely well tolerated. This differentiates them from other agents that also act on the PPARγ receptor, but cause side effects such as weight gain or cardiovascular problems.
High concentration required In the fight against diabetes, however, the absorption of amorfrutins by licorice tea or licorice is not sufficient. The concentration of the substance in it is unfortunately too low. In order to obtain amorfrutins in sufficient concentration from the plant, the researchers have therefore developed special extraction processes to be able to produce natural amorfrutin extracts on an industrial scale. (pm)
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Picture: Erin Silversmith