Sunday, February 27, 2011

Licorice for Diabetes!? Licorice Extract Reverses (!) Diabetic Nephropathy in Rats

Diabetes is the big "D" in the metabolic synDrome and probably the most destructive of the various faces of the plague of the century. Now researchers from the United Arabian Emirates have found that licorice may ameliorate the destructive effects of high blood glucose levels on your kidneys.

In a rat experiment, Kataya et al. (Kataya. 2011) found that...
... oral ingestion (1 g/kg body weight) of licorice extract for 60 days after the onset of diabetes reversed the adverse effect of diabetes on rats. Licorice extract alleviated blood glucose levels, restored renal function, and attenuated body-weight loss. In addition, licorice extract modulated the adverse effect of diabetes on renal malondialdehyde, glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase activity. Further, licorice extract restored the total antioxidant capacity of diabetic rat kidneys.
What I find most intriguing is that licorice ingestion at a dosage that would amount to roughly 12g for an average male human being could reverse, i.e. not only ameliorate, diabetic nephropathy. Yet, the sheer amount of extract you would have to consume raises the question if there would not be other complications / unwanted side effects of this protocol. According to Isbrucker & Burdock (Isbrucker. 2006), the "acceptable daily intake" of licorice is "0.015-0.229 mg glycyrrhizin/kg body weight/day" - depending on the concentration of the extract the scientists used, 12g may well exceed this critical limit (high cortisol, high BP, water retention could be the consequences).