GENOA, Italy, Abscisic acid, which is found in plants and mammals, can reduce sugar levels in the blood when taken at low doses, researchers in Italy found in a small study, showing potential as a diabetes treatment.
In plants, the hormone is involved in many plant developmental processes and survival, leading researchers to test its effects on glycemia in rats and humans using extracts from fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Mirko Magnone, a researcher at the University of Genoa School of Medicine, said in a press release abscisic acid was likely not a cure for diabetes, but that it could be used to treat or possibly prevent the condition.
The researchers first gave rats either a synthetic abscisic acid, an abscisic acid-rich fruit extract, or a placebo after an oral glucose load to raise levels in their bodies. When researchers compared glycemia and insulinemia profiles in the animals, they found abscisic acid lowered levels in both in rats.
Researchers then gave humans an oral glucose load or normal breakfast and lunch with a fruit extract or a placebo, with results similar to those observed in rats.
The results of both tests suggest the hormone’s effect of lowering blood sugar reduces chronic stimulation of beta cells that release insulin, helping them to survive and function properly for a longer period of time.
“Mom always said, ‘eat your veggies,’ and now science backs up this advice,” said Dr. Gerald Weissman, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which published the study. “High blood sugar levels predict the later consequences of diabetes, and while this hormone may not be a cure for diabetes, it should prove very useful in helping to control progression of the disease,”