Liquorice root found to contain anti-diabetic substance

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 19th April 2012

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, in Berlin, Germany, have discovered that liquorice root contains substances with an anti-diabetic effect.

The scientists identified a group of natural substances with an anti-diabetic effect, the amorfrutins, in the plant’s edible root.

According to their research, which was published this week, ‘amorfrutins’ not only reduce blood sugar, but also have an anti-inflammatory effect. The research also found that amorfrutins can help prevent fatty liver – a common disease caused by excessively fat-rich nutrition.

Lead researcher Dr Sascha Sauer said, “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.”

However, Dr Sauer pointed out that drinking liquorice tea or eating liquorice will not help to treat diabetes as the concentration of the substances in the tea and liquorice is far too low to be effective.

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

The newly discovered active substances not only hold promise for the treatment of metabolic disorders, they may also be suitable for prophylactic use.

Dr Sauer said, “The amorfrutins can be used as functional nutritional supplements or as mild remedies that are individually tailored to the patient.

“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.”