A clinical trial by researchers at The University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute has shown that an extract of fresh olive leaves appreciably reduces some risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
A paper published today in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE presents results of the randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of the extract in 46 overweight, middle-aged men at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The extract was prepared and supplied by global natural health and beauty products company Comvita.
Principal investigator and Liggins Institute Director Professor Wayne Cutfield said that supplementation with the olive leaf extract for 12 weeks improved the way that insulin was secreted and worked in overweight men. Insulin is an important hormone which controls metabolism by stimulating the transport of glucose and fat into cells.
“We saw significant improvements in standard measures of insulin action and secretion compared with placebo.
The changes were of similar magnitude to those achieved with the commonly prescribed diabetes medication metformin, suggesting that these results could also have clinical relevance for patients with type 2 diabetes,” said Cutfield.
Comvita CEO Brett Hewlett said the study underscores the potential for efficacious, proven natural products to play an integral role in improving health outcomes.
“Many natural supplements and remedies depend on traditional evidence found in national pharmacopoeias, text books and published reviews. This clinical trial provides important scientific rigour supporting the use of fresh olive leaf extract to improve glucose regulation in at-risk overweight middle aged men.”
Cutfield observed that the nutraceutical industry is a growing economic force. “People deserve to know whether marketing claims are real and justified.
Previously, there has been little rigorous scientific evidence to support the centuries-old use of olive leaves as a remedy for ill-health, including diabetes.
“We welcome the opportunity to bring our expertise in conducting well designed clinical trials into partnership with natural products companies such as Comvita to provide objective evidence of products’ effectiveness,” he said.
The article, “Olive (Olea europaea L.) leaf polyphenols improve insulin sensitivity in middle-aged overweight men: a randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial,” is available on line: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0057622
The research was co-funded by Comvita and the New Zealand Government, as part of a programme of business R&D funding now administered by Callaghan Innovation, the Crown entity charged with accelerating commercialisation of innovation in New Zealand firms.
PLOS ONE (www.plosone.org)
PLOS ONE is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication. Papers are peer reviewed by expert practicing researchers. The journal is freely accessible online and offers worldwide media coverage. The publishers, PLOS, are a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource.
The Liggins Institute (www.liggins.auckland.ac.nz)
The Liggins Institute is a Large-Scale Research Institute of The University of Auckland, NZ. The Institute’s research demonstrates the importance of children having a healthy start to life and the on-going role of nutrition in promoting and supporting optimal health throughout life. Through laboratory, clinical and population based studies, the Institute’s researchers and their international collaborators investigate problems in human health to discover why those problems occur. They then develop evidence based strategies to treat, manage or prevent them.
Callaghan Innovation (www.callaghaninnovation.govt.nz)
Callaghan Innovation is a new Crown entity charged with accelerating the commercialisation of innovation in New Zealand firms. Being the only organisation with a whole-of-system view of the innovation landscape, Callaghan Innovation will create and deliver innovative products and services to enable businesses to invest more in research, science, engineering, technology and design so that they can be more successful in the global market. A team of around 400 researchers, scientists, engineers, technologists, business people, project managers, investment managers and account managers are available to work directly with New Zealand businesses to link them with the research organisations, funding, expertise and facilities they need to support their investment in research and development.