Results of research conducted by the major institutions that compose one of the NIH-funded Botanical Research Centers—the Louisiana State University System’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Rutgers University’s Department of Plant Biology and Pathology—are featured in a special supplement of the journal Nutrition.
NIH’s Botanical Research Centers Program, which began in 1999, promotes collaborative, integrated, interdisciplinary study of botanicals, particularly those found as ingredients in dietary supplements, and conducts research of high potential for being translated into practical benefits for human health. The program is primarily supported by the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements and NCCAM. The goal of this Center is to evaluate how botanicals might influence insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
Some of the articles featured in this special supplement explore:
- Research developments that address new approaches to enhancing bioavailability of bioactive substances (the proportion of a substance that is taken up into the blood after it is consumed) or provide a new way to evaluate substrate metabolism in the body’s tissues
- How plants that are considered herbal remedies by specific cultures—for example, Artemisia dracunculus used by the people of South Louisiana—can be screened to evaluate their possible medicinal properties
- How Artemisia extracts alter microbiota in the intestine
- The effect of Artemisia dracunculus on specific muscle metabolism and sarcopenia (the degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass)
- The role of Artemisia extracts in changing glucose and lipid metabolism in muscle and in the liver, and how botanicals affect fat stored in the body
- How botanicals such as St. John’s wort may affect central nervous system functions.
The researchers noted that these findings, taken together, provide a foundation for future studies designed to enhance people’s health maintenance and to improve resiliency, which may be potentially useful in slowing the progression of many factors related to the development of metabolic syndrome.
- Cefalu WT, Floyd ZE, Stephens JM, et al. Botanicals and translational medicine: a paradigm shift in research approach. Nutrition. 2014;30(7–8S):S1–S68.