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Liquorice root could help treat diabetes, says study

April 20, 2012

In traditional Chinese medicine, liquorice root has been used extensively to treat everything from respiratory to digestive problems. — AFP/Relaxnews picIn traditional Chinese medicine, liquorice root has been used extensively to treat everything from respiratory to digestive problems. — AFP/Relaxnews picBERLIN, April 20 — A new German study has found that liquorice root may contain anti-diabetic properties.

In addition to having anti-inflammatory properties, substances called amorfrutins from the plant’s root were found to reduce blood sugar levels in mice.

Furthermore, the study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, found the substance helped prevent the mice from developing a fatty liver and improved insulin resistance, leading scientists to suggest that liquorice root could be used in the treatment of complex metabolic disorders.

In their study, the amorfrutins worked by activating various genes that reduced the plasma concentration of certain fatty acids and glucose, researchers said. The reduced glucose level, in turn, prevented the development of insulin resistance.

But before you go tucking into a bag of black liquorice candy, scientists point out that the concentration of amorfrutins is too low to be effective in sweets or tea.

Extracting the nutrients in large concentrations, however, could be used on an industrial scale, they say.

Earlier this year, another study published in the Journal of Natural Products found that two substances in liquorice were able to kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.

In traditional Chinese herbal medicine, liquorice root has also been used extensively to treat everything from respiratory to digestive problems.

Meanwhile, last year the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to adults over the age of 40 to limit their consumption of black liquorice, which has been shown to cause irregular heart rhythms or arrhythmia. — AFP/Relaxnews

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