Kudzu, the fast-growing vine that has gobbled up some 10 million acres in the Southeast, may prove to be a valuable dietary supplement for metabolic syndrome, a condition that affects 50 million Americans, say researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
In findings published in the latest Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, the researchers say studies on animal models showed that substances called isoflavones found in kudzu root improved regulation of contributors to metabolic syndrome, including blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood glucose. One particular isoflavone, called puerarin and found only in kudzu, seems to be the one with the greatest beneficial effect.
"Our findings showed that puerarin helps to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol," said J. Michael Wyss, Ph.D., a professor of in the UAB Department of Cell Biology and lead author on the study. "But perhaps the greatest effect we found was in its ability to regulate glucose, or sugar, in the blood."
An excessive amount of glucose in the blood is linked to both diabetes and obesity. Wyss says puerarin seems to regulate glucose by steering it to places where it is beneficial, such as muscles, and away from fat cells and blood vessels.
Wyss and colleagues added a small amount of kudzu root extract to the diets of lab rats for about two months. Compared to a control group that did not get the extract, the rats had lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin levels. No side-effects were noted.
"We need to better understand the mechanism by which kudzu root has these effects and then conduct human trials before we can recommend it as a supplement," Wyss said. "We also need a better understanding of who would most benefit. Is this something that children should take or perhaps those at risk for stroke or heart disease?"
"Puerarin, or kudzu root, may prove to be a strong complement to existing medications for insulin regulation or blood pressure, for example," said Jeevan Prasain, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UAB Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and a study co-author. "Physicians may be able to lower dosages of such drugs, making them more tolerable and cheaper."
Kudzu has long been used as a dietary supplement in Asian countries, most commonly as a tea or a powder. The climate of the American Southeast is ideal for kudzu, which is native to China and Japan and was brought to the United States in the 1930s for erosion control. Kudzu vines can grow as much as a foot per day during the summer and can overwhelm trees, power poles and buildings if left unchecked.
This research was supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Office of Dietary Supplement Grants, parts of the National Institutes of Health. Collaboration came from the UAB departments of Cell Biology and Pharmacology and Toxicology, the Purdue-UAB Botanicals Center and the Department of Biology, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center and the state of Alabama's largest employer. For more information, please visit www.uab.edu.Media Contact
Bob Shepard | EurekAlert!
New insight into why Pierce's disease is so deadly to grapevines
11.06.2018 | University of California - Davis
Where are Europe’s last primary forests?
29.05.2018 | Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
18.06.2018 | Process Engineering
18.06.2018 | Life Sciences