Brazilian ironwood seed extracts may decrease blood sugar levels, for rats at least

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock/Tatters
Photo: iStock/Tatters

Related tags Diabetes mellitus Blood sugar Diabetes

Galcatomannan from seeds of Brazilian ironwood (Caesalpinia ferrea), when administered at doses of 10 mg/kg body weight to Wistar rats with induced diabetes, was effective to control hyperglycemia and to promote recovering of insulin sensitivity in adipose tissue, researchers found.

The plant is known for having hydrophilic polysaccharides—or galactomannans—which previous studies suggest may have anti-hyperglycemic benefits (though the galactomannans from Brazilian ironwood itself have not been studied).

“Galactomannans differ from each other not only by botanical origin, but also by molecular weight and mannose/galactose (M/G) molar ratio in its polymer chain,”​ the researchers wrote in their study, published in the journal Food Hydrocolloids. ​The plant, popularly used for its wood, has been traditionally used by some communities in Brazil to treat diabetes. It is sold in tea form, known in Portuguese as chá de pau ferro ​(ironwood tree). 

The study was conducted to chemically characterize the polysaccharide from the seed and evaluate its effects in controlling streptozotocin-induced Type 2 Diabetes in Wistar rats.

Study details

Seed gum of the plant was isolated from a specimen collected from the Federal University of Ceará, Brazil and the Galactomannan precipitated using ethanol. The gelatinous precipitate was the supplementation used in the study.

Wistar rats five days of age were divided in two groups: One group was induced to diabetes by receiving an injection of streptozotocin.

After 10 weeks, the diabetic rats were divided into another two groups, one treated with the polysaccharide supplementation by oral gavage, and another receiving only water. Rats from these three groups were observed for their body weight, glycaemia, water, and food intake weekly.

Researchers performed glucose tolerance tests on all rats after 12 hours of fasting at weeks 10 and 15. Blood sample was collected from the tail.

Analysis: Effect of galactomannan administration

Compared to the diabetic group that only received water, the group supplemented with polysaccharides experienced a significant decrease of blood glucose levels, though results from a glucose tolerance test did not reveal improvement of the glucose tolerance with supplementation.

According to the researchers, these results are in line with other studies on galactomannan, such as one done in 1997 on the galactomannan of plants from the Pestalotiopsis species, as well as a 2008 study of galactomannan from Canadian fenugreek seed.

“[Brazilian ironwood] galactomannan, when administered at doses of 10 mg/kg body weight to Wistar rats with streptozotocin (STZ) induced diabetes, was effective to control hyperglycemia and to promote recovering of insulin sensitivity, at least in adipose tissue, allowing a functional recovery of adipose tissue,”​ the researchers wrote.

“The glycemic control effects by [the polysaccharide] seem to be related to the formation of a polymeric network by viscous JSG solutions (even at low concentrations), by reducing glucose intestinal absorption,”​ they added.

Future research is required to clarify the mechanisms of galactomannan from this plant, as well as further exploration of its metabolism and excretion.

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Source: Food Hydrocolloids
Published online ahead of print,
"Polysaccharides from ​Caesalpinia ferrea seeds – Chemical characterization and anti-diabetic effects in Wistar rats"
Authors: Arcelina P. Cunha, et al.

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