Good news for diabetics: Bishop’s weed has beneficial effects on diabetic renal injury
03/10/2019 // Edsel Cook // Views

Bishop's weed (Houttuynia cordata) is an edible plant from Asia that is used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. Researchers believed that extracts from its processed form can help protect the kidneys of diabetics from damage.

The kidneys are responsible for removing impurities and excess water from the blood. This makes them very vulnerable to diabetes due to the many symptoms associated with the disease.

High levels of blood sugar can damage the blood vessels of the kidneys. So can inflammation of the tissues of the kidney. These two conditions are some of the many symptoms that often accompany diabetes.

Metformin hydrochloride and other pharmaceutical drugs are normally used alongside insulin to control blood sugar levels for diabetics. However, these antihyperglycemic drugs have negative side effects that make them less than desirable.

Bishop's weed is reported to have numerous medicinal properties that earn it a place in Asiatic folk medicine. In particular, its anti-inflammatory properties offer a direct counter to inflammation caused by diabetes.

A 2014 study by the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) covered the antihyperglycemic activity of the medicinal herb. It reported that the plant's extracts can protect the pancreas from the toxic effects of high blood sugar levels and inflammation. (Related: Important acupressure points for optimum kidney health.)

Testing out the kidney-protective properties of bishop's weed

Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SUTCM) researchers wanted to determine the renoprotective effects of bishop's weed. Furthermore, they wanted to figure out how it worked through the Janus kinase/Signal transducer and activator of transcription-Suppressor of cytokine signaling (JAK/STAT-SOCS-1) signaling pathway.


They gathered samples of Houttuyniae Herba, the dried aerial part of the plant that is used as a health supplement. A water-based extract, an ethanol extract, and a volatile oil extract were derived from the processed bishop's weed.

Next, the researchers used diabetic rats to create an animal model of the disease. They created eight groups of eight animals each. Keeping one group as the control, they treated the other groups with either metformin hydrochloride, AG490 (which inhibits JAK-2), one of the three bishop's weed extracts, or a mixture of the three extracts.

The treatment was administered daily and the entire trial lasted for eight weeks. The animals were sacrificed at the end of the treatment period. Samples of blood and kidney tissue were taken for analysis using various tests.

Extracts from bishop's weed can help heal and strengthen the kidneys of diabetics

The results showed that the ethanol extract, volatile oil, and mixed extract lowered the amount of transforming growth factor beta one (TGF-?1) and fibronectin in the blood. These two compounds usually appear when the kidneys start taking damage.

The three aforementioned bishop's weed extracts also helped the kidneys of the mice operate a little bit better when it came to filtering out excessive proteins. More importantly, the extracts enhanced the microanatomy of the animals' organs, with the multi-extract mixture achieving the best effects.

All of the treated animals showed decreased expressions of P-JAK2 and P-STAT3 signaling proteins. Meanwhile, those treated with the volatile oil and mixture groups displayed higher levels of the SOCS-1 signaling protein, suggesting that bishop's weed extracts worked through this protein.

The SUTCM researchers concluded that bishop's weed could potentially be used to help diabetics who are suffering from kidney problems. The ethanol and volatile oil extracts promise to support the normal functions of kidneys, reduce the amount of protein that makes it into the urine, and protect the kidney's delicate internal structure from incurring damage.

For more natural ways to help take care of your kidneys, check out

Sources include: [PDF]

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