Plant extracts have been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) affects how the body uses glucose (sugar) for energy. It is caused by a combination of ineffective insulin and insufficient insulin. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) can often be prevented, especially when risk factors such as weight, exercise and diet are addressed.
Early diagnosis of the disease is important to prevent or delay its development. Prediabetes occurs when the blood glucose level is high but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes and indicates poor glucose tolerance. It often presents with mild symptoms that can go unnoticed, but prediabetes can potentially progress to type 2 diabetes without intervention.
Given that type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for approximately 98% of diabetes diagnoses globally, it is important that the disease is treated early and effectively. Now researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand have discovered a plant extract that acts on glucose-regulating areas of the brain to improve blood glucose regulation in patients with type 2 diabetes.
It is widely accepted that pathways in the brain are responsible for glucose regulation. For people without diabetes, circulating insulin — the hormone that moves glucose from the bloodstream into the body’s cells to produce energy — reaches the hypothalamus, a small area in the center of the brain. This triggers a series of reactions that mediate insulin’s effects. Studies have shown that inflammation of the hypothalamus plays a major role in causing insulin resistance, the hallmark of type 2 diabetes.
From previous research in mice, researchers knew that biotin, a plant-derived compound, produced significant glucose-lowering and insulin-sensitive effects in obese and glucose-intolerant mice by reducing inflammation in the hypothalamus. They decided to explore whether the extract taken from the petals of the dahlia flower (Dahlia pinata), a known source of protein, could be exploited as a novel treatment for diabetes and T2D in humans.
After creating an extract from dahlia flower petals, researchers tested it in different doses on mice fed a high-fat diet (HFD) to see if it affected glucose tolerance. Oral doses are given one hour before a glucose tolerance test. They found that a dose of 10 mg/kg body weight improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in HFD-fed mice. The extract did not affect blood glucose levels in healthy mice fed a low-fat diet.
To test whether the effect could last, the researchers treated HFD-fed mice with dahlia extract daily for five weeks. HFD-fed mice that received long-term treatment with the extract showed improved glucose tolerance compared to mice that did not receive the extract. By examining the livers of the mice, the researchers found no signs of toxicity.
The researchers then looked at the cause of the effects they observed. They pointed out that in addition to biotin, dahlia extract contains two other compounds, namely isolecuritigenin and sulfuritin. While isoliquiritigenin and sulforitin alone, or a combination of the two, were not relatively effective in improving glucose tolerance, they found that combined, the three compounds produced a significant improvement.
Examining the brains of mice, the researchers found that dahlia extract appeared to reduce inflammation in the hypothalamus, suggesting that the extract’s glucose-lowering properties were mediated through its anti-inflammatory effect. After proving the effect of dahlia extract on mice, researchers tested it in a “first-in-human” experiment.
By conducting a randomized controlled trial that included 13 participants with diabetes or T2D, they found that dahlia extract improved glucose tolerance in participants with both conditions. In those who meet the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, a dose of 60 mg/m32 It produced a more pronounced glucose-lowering effect, suggesting that the extract had an increased effect on those who had already progressed from pre-diabetes to T2D. Results of pre-treatment blood tests for liver function, kidney function, and general health did not differ after treatment with the extract.
“Poor blood sugar regulation is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide,” said Alexander Tops, corresponding author of the study. “I truly hope and believe that the results of our extensive research will benefit people with this condition.”
Researchers are working with external stakeholders to bring a natural dahlia extract supplement to market.
The study was published in the journal Metabolism of life.
Source: University of Otago