Goji Berry Extracts Lower Blood Sugar in Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease that occurs as a result of increased blood glucose or blood sugar level. Body obtains glucose from food, which is utilized by body cells for energy, using the hormone, Insulin.

Diabetes occurs if either, the body stops making insulin due to the destruction of pancreatic cells that produce Insulin. This is called type 1 diabetes.

Or, the body does not produce enough insulin or utilize it properly (insulin resistance). This is called type 2 diabetes, which is the most common. If body cannot use the glucose, excess glucose remains in the blood and leads to diabetes.

Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP) obtained from Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum), is effective in reducing the blood glucose levels and improve other health conditions related to type 2 diabetes.

It has great potential to be developed as treatment aided agent for this disease.

Goji Berries/ Wolf Berries have a medicinal history in China which is used for the treatment of various diseases related to eye, liver or kidneys. They are red berries having a slightly sour taste.

What happened in the study?

The study was conducted to determine how the antidiabetic properties of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP) can be practically applied in patients with type 2 diabetics.

Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LBP) was extracted from Goji berries and capsules were produced.
67 patients with fasting serum glucose more than 7.0mmol/L or post meal serum glucose more than 11.1 mmol/L were selected.

Patients have type 1 diabetes, insulin treatment, liver/kidney function impairment, history of cancer, alcohol or drug abuse, digestive or central nervous system disorders were not included. Also, pregnant or nursing women were excluded.

They underwent a one-week washout period before study during which they were on a controlled diet.

After this several tests such as blood routine analysis, creatinine(Cr), uric acid(UA), alanine aminotransferase(ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) were conducted, and the patients with abnormal levels were excluded.

The study was conducted for a duration of 3 consecutive months, in which out of 67, 37 patients were given goji berry extract capsules (consisting of 150mg LBP and 150mg microcrystalline cellulose) twice daily of dosage 300mg/day.

While the control group had 30 patients, who were given placebo capsules (consisting of 300mg of microcrystalline cellulose), twice daily.

Several tests were conducted for patients of both groups after dinner to check the glucose and lipid levels. Also, their insulin, total cholesterol(TC), triglycerides(TG), high-density lipoproteins(HDL) and apoprotein B levels were checked. These are parameters indicative of metabolic health.

The aim was to study the hypoglycemic and lipid—lowering activity of goji berry extract in type 2 diabetes patients.
Anthropometric measurements which included weight, height, waist and hip circumference, pulse, systolic and diastolic pressure, etc. were performed.

What were the results of the study?

The results showed a decrease in serum glucose levels by 7.86% and increase in high-density cholesterol (HDL) levels in patients who were treated with LBP, compared to the other group.

There was also an increase in the insulinogenic index from -0.98% to 0.04%. The insulinogenic index determines the metabolic status of insulin, i.e. how well is it utilized by the cells.

There was no significant difference in lipid levels ( triglycerides (TG) and Total cholesterol(TC)) of both goji berry extract and placebo groups after meals.

The levels of adipokines (proteins responsible for cell signaling and cell coordination) such as TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor- α) were found to decrease in goji berry extract group.
There was no significant decrease in levels of other types of adipokines such as lectins and adiponectin.

How did this occur?

Lycium barbarum polysaccharide(LBP) has substantial effects in lowering blood sugar.

It decreases the insulin resistance due to which the cells can utilize the insulin properly. Proper secretion and functioning of the hormone Insulin lead to controlled blood glucose levels.

Goji berry extract is a confirmed antioxidant that works against insulin resistance. It activates the pathway that fights against tissue and cell damage which otherwise could lead to cells inability to utilize insulin.

It also inhibits the absorption of glucose in a dose-dependant manner.

The efficiency of goji berry extract in reducing post-meal glucose levels and sustaining post-meal insulin suggests stimulation of insulin secretion and increased insulin sensitivity. High insulin sensitivity means the body will be able to regulate blood glucose levels with a lesser quantity of Insulin. This further improves the responsiveness of β-cells which are responsible for the production of insulin in the pancreas.

In type 2 diabetes high blood glucose is associated with dyslipidemia which is the increase in total cholesterol(TC), triglycerides(TG), low-density cholesterol(LDL) and a decrease in high-density cholesterol(HDL).

Goji berry extract increases the HDL(good cholesterol) levels, which is associated with a decrease in LDL(bad cholesterol) in the body. High LDL and Total Cholesterol levels are another markers of diabetes.

Reduction in these levels could certainly eliminate the risk of type 2 diabetes or the health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases that result because of it.

Administration of goji berry extract in type 2 diabetes patients led to decrease in TNF-α.
Some adipokines( proteins required for proper cell coordination and signaling) such as TNF-α and leptins are responsible for insulin resistance and impaired insulin action resulting in the development of type 2 diabetes.
They also disrupt the insulin signaling pathway leading to decrease in glucose uptake by cells.

Therefore, reduction in TNF-α by goji berry extract could result in increasing cellular glucose uptake and decreased insulin resistance.

What does this mean?

The results infer the potential use of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides(LBP) found in Goji Berries in treatment or prevention of type 2 diabetes and related risk factors.

Regular dosage of goji berry extract, twice daily has blood sugar lowering effects and can be advised for type 2 diabetes patients.

Read the full study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4475782/