WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences say obesity can be treated by using a natural compound in mulberries that "activates" brown fat.
The compound, known as rutin, was found to have weight loss properties in a study published in The FASEB Journal. Researchers say this may not only be able to help treat obesity, but related diseases associated with excessive weight gain.
"The beneficial effects of rutin on BAT-mediated metabolic improvement have evoked a substantial interest in the potential treatment for obesity and its related diseases, such as diabetes," researcher Wan-Zhu Jin said in a press release. "In line with this idea, discovery of more safe and effective BAT activators is desired to deal with obesity and its related diseases."
Scientists in the study analyzed the effects of brown fat, also referred to as brown adipose tissue or BAT, using both genetically obese mice and mice with diet-induced obesity. Unlike ordinary white fat, brown fat can burn calories and produce heat.
During the experiment, supplemental rutin was added to the drinking water of both groups. Researchers observed improved glucose homeostasis in both cohorts.
The investigators concluded the rutin improved metabolic functions in the mice. Scientists are confident similar remedies can be used to treat obesity in humans.
"Unlike hibernating animals, we humans have only a small spot of brown fat, and yet its importance in human metabolism has only recently come into view," FASEB Journal Editor-In-Chief Thoru Pederson said in a news release. "In this study, the philosophy of ancient Chinese medicine's exploitation of plant materials has conjoined in the modern era with a very able physiology research team to evoke a promising lead."