Goka fruit is rich in anthocyanins, which have beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance. Researchers at Niigata University of Pharmacy and Applied Life Sciences and Kyolin Institute for Chinese Medicine Information in Japan examined whether goka fruit can improve insulin resistance associated with obesity.
For their study, they fed mice with a high-fat diet to induce obesity. Then, they treated the animals with 500 and 1,000 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of goka fruit for 12 weeks.
The results showed that supplementation with goka fruit significantly improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity in obese mice. It also reduced insulin and liver fat buildup in the animals. In addition, fat metabolism improved and adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) phosphorylation in the liver increased after goka fruit administration.
With these findings, the researchers concluded that supplementation with goka fruit can improve obesity-associated insulin resistance and fat buildup in the liver by regulating AMPK activity and lipid metabolism. The researchers published their findings in the journal Nutrition Research.
Goka plant may prevent obesity in the first place. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food looked at the protective effects of goka, which was cultured from a cell suspension by a proprietary process, against obesity in mice. In the study, researchers at Chonbuk National University in South Korea fed mice with either a normal diet or a high-fat diet with or without goka plant extract for 12 weeks.
Results showed that groups fed with a high-fat diet exhibited higher energy intake compared to mice fed with their usual diet. The high fat-fed groups also experienced significantly higher body weight gain, abdominal fat accumulation, and serum leptin concentrations than the other groups. Moreover, high-fat fed mice had dramatically higher levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in serum and higher triglyceride accumulation in the liver.
However, high LDL cholesterol levels in serum and triglyceride buildup in the liver were normalized upon supplementation with goka plant extract. Correspondingly, treatment with goka plant extract also appeared to reduce weight gain in mice with obesity induced by high-fat diets. These findings indicate that goka plant supplementation may play a role in the prevention of obesity.
Goka plant is also referred to as touch-me-not, devil's shrub, and eleuthero, and is native to Japan, northern China, southeastern Russia, South Korea, and North Korea. Evidence suggests that this herb was first used in China about 2,000 years ago.
This herbal plant is commonly used in traditional medicine as an adaptogen, which helps the body handle and adapt to stress better. It also acts as a stimulant, improving the function of the nervous system. (Related: Siberian Ginseng: The Almost Forgotten, Perfect Adaptogen and Energy Booster.)
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also suggests that the herb may be effective in relieving colds when combined with the herb green chiretta. A study published in Phytotherapy Research has shown that an herbal formula containing goka and green chiretta helped reduce cold duration and severity in children at its early stages.
Goka, in combination with Panax ginseng, and Chinese foxglove, may also help treat osteoarthritis of the knee, according to a study published in The Korean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. In the study, participants with osteoarthritis of the knee who took the herbal formula exhibited greater improvement in pain and physical functioning than those who took the placebo.
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