Mediterranean Plant-Based Extracts Point the Way to Healthy Weight Loss

There’s promising news for the overweight. A supplement based on lemon verbena and hibiscus extracts can help manage body weight and improve health.

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Modern life isn’t necessarily a healthy life. Despite all the advances and conveniences western society enjoys, poor nutritional choices and largely sedentary lifestyle are having adverse effects on health. A major consequence of our unhealthy habits is excessive weight or obesity and the resulting increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and strokes. However, as anyone who has tried sticking to a diet will tell you, losing weight isn’t an easy feat.

Research conducted with EU funding through the INNOPREFAT project has led to the development of a natural ingredient that will help people lose weight and improve their health. Based on extracts of the Mediterranean plants lemon verbena and hibiscus, a supplement called Metabolaid can effectively control body weight when taken as part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

How it works

The key to the patent-protected blend’s effectiveness lies in its ability to activate the 5′ adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) pathway. AMPK is a metabolic enzyme regarded as a master switch that regulates energy consumption and increases cell metabolism. AMPK activity is enhanced by two of the blend’s main molecular components. One is the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory verbascoside found in lemon verbena. The other is anthocyanin, a blue, violet or red pigment found in plants, and in this case obtained from the hibiscus plant, that’s said to improve blood flow and help maintain vascular health. According to a blog post on project coordinator Monteloeder’s website, the two plants “are submitted through a unique process to obtain some of the highest purified extracts in the market in anthocyanins and verbascoside.” When AMPK is activated, it increases energy consumption, reduces fat production and helps the body to burn more fat.

Clinical observations

Clinical studies conducted with Metabolaid showed that, when accompanied by a healthy diet and moderate exercise, the ingredient can help people maintain better control over their appetite than with diet alone. In the placebo-controlled trials, overweight dieters who were otherwise healthy were given 500 mg of the supplement over a period of 60 days. After the 2-month period, the dieters on Metabolaid lost twice as much weight as those who weren’t taking the blend. The ingredient also gave participants better control over their blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.

Perhaps more important for the hungry dieter, the botanical ingredient also helps regulate leptin, a satiety-inducing hormone. After only 15 days of taking Metabolaid, participants felt less hungry in the course of the day and were happier with the amount of food they consumed.

With these results as a springboard, INNOPREFAT (Natural Food formulation for the prevention and treatment the Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome obtained with herbal extracts) is carrying out further clinical studies to demonstrate the ingredient’s effectiveness. The trials will be testing the supplement’s effects on a larger number of subjects over a longer period of time.

For more information, please see: INNOPREFAT project web page