RCT supports Santa herba extract’s weight management and ‘energizing’ potential

By Stephen Daniells contact

- Last updated on GMT

Santa herba (Eriodictyon californicum) is also known as mountain balm or yerba santa. Image © Sundry Photography / Getty Images
Santa herba (Eriodictyon californicum) is also known as mountain balm or yerba santa. Image © Sundry Photography / Getty Images

Related tags: Santa herba, Eriodictyon californicum, Weight management, appetite, herbal supplement

Supplements containing a flavonoid-rich extract from the plant Santa herba may reduce body weight and levels of the appetite hormone leptin, says a new study with overweight and obese women.

Data published in the Journal of Medicinal Food​ indicated that 12 weeks of supplementation with Mibelle’s SantEnergy Nu ingredient led to an average 2.1 kg (4.6 lbs) decrease in body weight and a 0.4% reduction in body fat (related to total body composition) for the obese participants.

“As [an] antioxidative compound and metabolic energizer, ​Santa herba extract may be applied as natural metabolism booster and slimming ingredient to support healthy aging,” ​wrote the researchers, led by Dr Torsten Grothe, Head of Food & Health for Mibelle Group.

SantEnergy Nu

Mibelle launched SantEnergy Nu last year​ and positioned the ingredient for a number of different applications, including caffeine replacement, healthy aging, sports nutrition, and weight management.

SantEnergy Nu is prepared from the leaves of the santa herba (Eriodictyon californicum​), a member of the borage family and native to the Pacific Coast areas of Oregon, California and Mexico. The herb is reportedly rich in essential oils and polyphenols, including homoeriodictyol, eriodictyol and sterubin. It was used in traditional medicine to treat upper respiratory infections.

The ingredient is reported to be effective the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), non-enzymatic modifications of proteins or lipids after exposure to sugars.

While AGEs form naturally as we age, they can also form in the presence of excess blood sugar as a result of a carbohydrate-rich diet. Their accumulation in adipose and liver tissues can interfere with many protein functions, resulting in an unbalanced metabolism and the onset of metabolic diseases.

Commenting on the new paper, Alice Olufeso, Product Manager Food & Health for Mibelle Group Biochemistry, told NutraIngredients-USA that this is the first study to show the effect of this flavonoid-rich santa herba extract on weight and fat reduction in obese and overweight individuals.

“The synergistic interplay of three different mechanisms makes SantEnergy Nu so special, resulting in the ability to support the body towards a healthier and more balanced metabolism,” ​she said.

Olufeso explained that SantEnergy Nu binds to the adenosine receptor ADORA2A. “Caffeine has a similar mode of action. Inhibition of this receptor results in increased metabolism and triggers lipolysis, leading to a reduction in fatigue, body fat and body weight,”​ she said.

While the current study was limited to a 12 week supplementation period, Olufeso said that previous studies have shown significant weight reduction with longer intake periods. “This confirms that SantEnergy Nu is a natural plant extract with the ability to help obese people in their weight management program.

“Another interesting finding was that SantEnergy Nu was able to reduce levels of the appetite-related hormone leptin, which is typically high in obese humans and can beneficially affect their eating behavior.”

Study details

The new study included 24 overweight and 25 obese women with a mean age of 47.5. The women were randomly assigned to receive the Santa herba extract (400 mg) or a maltodextrin placebo two times per day for 12 weeks together with main meals. The participants were asked not to change their diet and exercising habits throughout the study.

Results showed that the obese women experienced the most significant reductions in body weight and body fat.

In addition, a trend towards reduced blood leptin levels in the obese women was observed, while women receiving the Santa herba​ extract also exhibited significant reductions in the appetitive traits emotional overeating and food responsiveness, compared to the placebo group.

The researchers also assessed the effects of the Santa herba​ extract in nematodes (Caenorhabditis elegans​) and found that the extract increased antioxidant capacities and stimulated C. elegans motility by 7.5%.

“Taken together, this comprehensive study suggests a synergistic triple-mode of action of Santa herba extract, which appears to be highly antioxidative, boosts metabolic energy, and regulates hunger and satiety, thus beneficially affecting obesity-related metabolic imbalances and contributing to weight management,” ​wrote Dr Grothe and his co-workers. “Most probably the major flavonoids of Santa herba, particulary homoeriodictyol and hesperitin, will contribute to the demonstrated energizing and slimming effects.

“As for all dietary weight loss supplements, Santa herba extract should be integrated in a weight loss concept, including adaption of dietary habits and increased physical activity, thereby possibly increasing overall health and quality of life,” ​they added.

Source: Journal of Medicinal Food
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1089/jmf.2021.0016
“A Food Supplement with Antioxidative Santa Herba Extract Modulates Energy Metabolism and Contributes to Weight Management”
Authors: Y. Mödinger, et al.

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