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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC: Researchers Find Chinese Herb, Lycii Cortex, May Be Natural Method of Treating Diabetes

The traditional Chinese herb Lycii Cortex (LyC), with its powerful compound kukoamine B, could be an effective nutraceutical choice for lowering blood glucose when used alone or in combination with low doses of first-line diabetes medications.

Dr. YuanYuan Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, is lead author of the paper, “A Metabolomics Approach to Investigate Kukoamine B—A Potent Natural Product With Anti-diabetic Properties” published online January 22 in Frontiers in Pharmacology. Dr. Susan Sumner, professor in the Department of Nutrition, is senior author on the study.

Dr. Li’s father regularly used Chinese herbs in his work as a doctor, and she has long wanted to study the herbs’ scientific benefits. LyC is the root bark of Lycium chinense or L. barbarum, which commonly is used to treat diseases that create what Chinese medicine refers to as “heat symptoms,” including higher body temperature, excessive thirst, hypertension, fever and Type 2 diabetes.

“However, there are not many scientific studies focused on bioactive molecules or working mechanisms to support the clinical application of herbs,” she says. “I have always wanted to start a research program focusing on evidence-based research of traditional Chinese medicine herbs, thus better applying them as nutraceuticals, to be used independently or in combination with first-line medications to improve human health.”

Kukoamine B (KB) is the major and featured constituent of LyC and a phytochemical marker that indicates the quality of LyC products. Li and her team conducted animal studies on mice to determine the anti-diabetic effects of LyC and KB compared with two standard anti-diabetic drugs, metformin and rosiglitazone.

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