An extract from the roots of the Rhodiola rosea plant might be effective for helping manage type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.
The extract shows promise as a safe and effective non-pharmaceutical alternative, the researchers report.
They found that, in a mouse model of human type 2 diabetes, Rhodiola rosea lowered fasting blood sugar levels, improved response to insulin injections, modulated the composition of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, and decreased several biomarkers of inflammation.
“The prevalence of type 2 diabetes and the associated health costs have risen steadily in recent decades. Humans have used plants and natural products for thousands of years to treat diseases, and our study shows Rhodiola rosea is a good candidate for further investigation,” says Mahtab Jafari, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of California, Irvine, and corresponding author of the paper in Scientific Reports.
“Current treatment recommendations include lifestyle changes as well as oral and intravenous medications. However, these drugs have significant limitations or side effects, increasing the need for new therapeutic interventions.”
The team used a genetically engineered mouse model that develops obesity, insulin resistance, and high blood sugar, similar to advanced human type 2 diabetes, to test whether Rhodiola rosea could improve glucose homeostasis.
In the study, cohorts of age-matched male and female mice were randomly assigned to one of two groups: control, which received water, or experimental, which were administered Rhodiola rosea extract.
“Our findings suggest that Rhodiola rosea might be beneficial for treating type 2 diabetes, acting through changes in the microbiome that result in increased gut barrier integrity and decreased translocation of inflammatory molecules into the blood circulation,” Jafari says.
“Gut barrier integrity influences body weight and insulin response, and this botanical product may improve the responses of liver and muscle tissues to insulin produced by the pancreas.”
The team’s next steps are to perform a larger follow-up study in a different mouse model of obesity-induced diabetes to confirm these findings and to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved. Ultimately, Jafari hopes to conduct Rhodiola rosea clinical trials in patients with type 2 diabetes.
“Our research presents a solid case for the importance of conducting high-quality pre-clinical studies based on sound methodologies to evaluate the efficacy of standardized plant extracts. We have set the stage for human clinical studies, with the ultimate goal of improving health outcomes for type 2 diabetes patients,” Jafari says.
Additional coauthors are from Brigham Young University and UC Irvine. The UCI School of Medicine-Pharmaceutical Sciences Collaborative Research Funds and John P. and Lois C. Wareham funded the work.
Source: UC Irvine