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Invasive Weed Shows Promise for Pre-diabetes Patients

Tim Boyer's picture

Impaired Glucose Intolerance, a.k.a. pre-diabetes, basically means that you have blood glucose levels higher than normal, but not high enough to qualify you as a patient with Type 2 diabetes. A growing concern is that up to 50 percent of those with IGT may develop Type 2 diabetes within the next decade. The good news is that, if caught early on, the risk of IGT developing into Type 2 diabetes can be significantly reduced through diet, exercise and possibly with a little help from the Japanese Knotweed polygonum cuspidatum.

The French Connection
Resveratrol is a plant-derived polyphenolic phytoalexin reported to have anti-oxidant, anti- inflammatory and cardio-protective properties. It is more commonly known as the red grape extract that garnered news media attention as the reason for the French Paradox.

The French Paradox is a label given for the observation that in spite of a national diet high in fat, the overall incidence of cardiovascular disease in France is significantly lower than in other nations.

One theory explaining this paradox is that the regular consumption of red wine, known to be rich in antioxidants, must impart a protective shield against too much foie gras. There’s more myth than science to the French Paradox, however, as scientists agree that an individual could not possibly drink enough red wine to account for the French Paradox.

However, this is not to say that resveratrol is of no value toward good health. In fact, scientists today are studying the effects of resveratrol on insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance from other sources such as the Japanese Knotweed.

Japanese Knotweed Study
The Japanese Knotweed is a species of weed that was included by the World Conservation Union as one of the world’s worst invasive species of plant life. Native to the Far East, Japanese Knotweed is also present throughout the U.S. and is valued by bee keepers for its flower’s nectar. However, its biggest supporter is the nutritional supplement industry for its ease of growth and extraction of high concentrations of natural resveratrol.

Last year at the American Diabetes Association’s Annual Scientific Meeting, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine presented their results from a clinical study that used resveratrol from the Japanese Knotweed. What they found was that resveratrol demonstrated an improvement in glucose tolerance in older adults with IGT.

From previous studies, resveratrol has been shown to improve glucose and insulin metabolism in obesity animal models. In addition, resveratrol has also been shown to stimulate insulin secretion in Type 2 diabetes in laboratory animals. Resveratrol is believed to act through a transcriptional activator protein called “SIRT-1” that is involved in glucose metabolism.

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In their study, the scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine wanted to assess the effects of resveratrol in older adults with impaired glucose tolerance. Their hypothesis was that resveratrol would boost SIRT-1 activation and result in increased glucose metabolism in their test subjects.

At the start of the test, a baseline of the test subjects’ glucose and insulin levels were measured and recorded. The adults, ages 60-80, were then given resveratrol in daily doses ranging from 1.0 to 2.0 grams over a 4-week period.

Following the 4-week period, measurements for glucose and insulin levels were measured again and compared. The results showed no statistically significant changes in the insulin and blood glucose values of the subjects. However, when insulin and glucose values were measured following a typical post-fast meal, the results were significant.

Following the fast, the subjects were given a dose of resveratrol and fed a standard meal consisting of 110 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein and 20 grams of fat. Their glucose and insulin levels were then measured immediately and at intervals of 30, 60, 120 and 180 minutes following the meal.

What the researchers found was that there were statistically significant lower levels of plasma glucose and insulin after the meal, with improved insulin sensitivity. Their conclusion from the results was that at moderate doses, resveratrol from the Japanese Knotweed lowered the test subjects’ insulin resistance, and improved their post-meal plasma glucose values. Therefore, their findings lead them to believe that resveratrol shows promise as a treatment for IGT in older patients who have insulin resistance and postprandial hyperglycemia. According to Dr. Jill Crandall, director of the Diabetes Clinical Trials Unit at Einstein, “…we are encouraged by these findings and plan to conduct additional studies to further explore the potential utility of resveratrol in improving glucose metabolism."

Although some sources refer to pre-diabetes (140-199 mg/dl 2 hours post meal blood glucose) as a transitional phase between normal glucose levels (199 mg/dl 2 hours post meal glucose), according to the International Diabetes Foundation, progression from IGT to Type 2 diabetes is not inevitable. The recommended treatment today for people with blood glucose levels that characterize them as having IGT; and therefore, at risk of eventually developing Type 2 diabetes, is to eat healthy foods, lose excess weight, exercise more and have their blood glucose levels checked regularly.

Pre-diabetes supplements

For those who seek alternative therapies and supplements as a prevention measure to protect themselves from developing IGT and/or Type 2 diabetes, it is important to consult with a physician concerning potential nutritional supplements. The nutritional supplement industry is fast-growing and not completely regulated by the FDA. Not all companies will have the same exacting standards towards quality assurance in their products.

Resveratrol can be found advertised by a number of companies; however, the source of resveratrol can differ and may be of significance. According to James Betz, CEO of Biotivia Bioceuticals, the maker and supplier of Transmax (the resveratrol used in the Albert Einstein clinical trial), “It probably does matter where the RSV extract comes from. Grape skins are not a preferred source due to the impossibility of obtaining high enough concentrations of RSV for supplement use. In addition, the presence of agricultural chemicals used on grapes is a concern. Our organic source of resveratrol is an extract from the Japanese Knotweed, whereas other companies use synthetic RSV that may contain bits of DNA from the yeast or bacteria used to synthesize it.”

Biotivia’s supplements are certified Vegan by the American Vegetarian Association and independently assessed by Consumer Labs, a leading American quality watchdog of health and nutritional products. More information about Biotivia and their resveratrol supplement can be found at www.biotivia.com.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine