Most people recognize licorice as a candy. But this versatile plant possesses potent medicinal properties. Natural chemicals in licorice can calm the stomach and ease breathing problems.
Another benefit: German researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have now discovered that licorice root has substances with an anti-diabetic effect. These compounds, called amorfrutins, not only reduce blood sugar, they are also anti-inflammatory and have few if any side effects.
“However, drinking licorice tea or eating licorice will not help to treat diabetes,” explains research scientist Sascha Sauer. “The concentration of the substances in the tea and licorice is far too low to be effective.” The researchers, therefore, developed special extraction processes to obtain the amorfrutins from the plant in sufficient concentrations. This could be used to produce amorfrutin extracts on a wide scale.
“The amorfrutins can be used as functional nutritional supplements or as mild remedies that are individually tailored to the patient,” says Sascha Sauer. “In view of the rapid spread of metabolic diseases like diabetes, it is intended to develop these substances further so that they can be used on humans in the future.”