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Is almond tree oil a natural treatment for obesity, diabetes?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Oil from the seed of the wild almond tree might help thwart diabetes.

Mouse studies suggest oil from the wild almond tree - Sterculia foetida - might have a future new role for helping combat obesity and diabetes. The oil that comes from the seeds of the wild tree and contains sterculic oil worked in mice to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce glucose levels.

Sterculic oil alters gut microbes

Researchers found sterculic oil affects 3 specific microorganisms in the gut that could be linked to lower glucose levels and improved insulin sensitivity, but more studies are needed to understand exactly how the tree oil works to improve glucose tolerance.

Finding builds on past studies

Past studies have shown obese mice deficient in the hormone leptin, which regulates metabolism, have different types of bacteria in the belly than lean mice, providing a possible explanation about how sterculic oil might work to thwart obesity and diabetes.

Shreya Ghosh, a Ph.D. student in environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology and her advisor, Dr. Daniel Oerther also discovered in the past that the wild almond tree oil sterculic oil was found suppresses an enzyme in the body called stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 (SCD1). SCD1 that is linked to insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity.

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For the current study, Ghosh compared the effect of the oil on 14 obese and 14 lean mice; separating them into four groups. Over a period of nine-weeks, one group of lean and obese mice received a standard diet. The other group of non-obese and obese mice was fed a standard diet supplemented with 0.5 percent of sterculic oil.

At the end of the 9 weeks the researchers had a DNA analysis of microbes in the gut, which confirmed the association between improved glucose tolerance and changes in the belly microorganisms. None of the mice lost weight, but the researchers say the study gives insight into how the tree oil might control obesity and diabetes.

More studies are needed to find out if sterculic acid is safe for use in humans. The current study builds on previous findings showing the potential benefits of the oil from the wild almond tree for fighting obesity and diabetes.

American Society for Microbiology

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons