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Apr 19, 2012

Anti-Diabetic Substance Contained in Licorice Root

Licorice root is a medicinal herb with a substantial list of health benefits used in both modern and ancient times.  

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have identified a substance contained within this herb with anti-diabetic properties.  Found in the roots of the licorice plant as well as the fruit of the Amorpha fruticosa bush, amorfrutins are apparently not only helpful in lowering blood sugar levels, but also act as anti-inflammatories and can prevent fatty liver.  They also happen to be tolerated well.      

"The health-beneficial effects are based on the fact that the amorfrutin molecules dock directly onto a receptor in the nucleus called PPARĪ³," according to scientist Sascha Sauer.  Cellular metabolism of fats and glucose is affected by actions happening via the PPARĪ³ receptor.  As amorfrutin molecules bind the receptors, certain genes get activated that lead to a lowering of fatty acids and glucose circulating in the blood.  As blood glucose levels go down, so, too does insulin resistance and type II diabetes.  

According to Sauer, “Drinking licorice tea or eating licorice will not help to treat diabetes” due to the concentration of amorfrutins not being high enough in the tea or licorice root alone.  Special extraction steps were used in the study as a way of generating adequate concentration levels.   
Dr. Shana McQueen