Review observes “superior weight loss activity” of propolis polyphenols, urging further clinical trials

By Olivia Brown

- Last updated on GMT

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A new review exploring the anti-obesity action of propolis polyphenols highlights their strong potential within treatment interventions, yet urges further research to extend beyond the animal and cell models currently explored.

In addition, the researchers from Nanchang University, China, emphasised the low number of studies utilising ‘-omic’ approaches to investigate this effect, highlighting their potential to advance knowledge of the absorption and metabolism of the propolis components.

“Propolis polyphenols have superior weight loss activity,” ​stress the scientists with regards to their collated evidence.

They emphasise: “Past studies have accumulated sufficient knowledge on the potential anti-obesity benefits of polyphenols in propolis, but there are still many pressing questions and challenges that need to be addressed.”

“In addition, it may be a new breakthrough to study the combined effects of propolis polyphenolic compounds and other sources of phenolics,” ​they add.

Natural demand

There is a strong demand for natural alternatives to alleviate symptoms of conditions such as obesity, including high blood pressure and inflammation, due to the variety of unfavourable side affects associated with established drugs. These have been reported ​to range from insomnia to gastrointestinal issues, and thus, significantly impacting quality of life.

Resultant low rates of adherence to such treatments in the long-term have reduced their effectiveness. Paired with this, there has been a recent shift in consumer mindset to a more holistic and preventative outlook on health.

Propolis represents a bioactive-rich substance produced by honeybees, with a long history of use in traditional medicine due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immunostimulant properties​.

Following its increased popularity, it has been reported that these health benefits arise from the propolis polyphenols, with previous studies ​noting their efficacy in achieving weight loss in both animals and humans.

Anti-obesity mechanisms

The report specifies the key mechanisms of action observed to be exhibited by propolis, explaining:

“So far, numerous in vitro and in vivo studies have demonstrated that propolis affects body weight and adipose tissue weight in obese animals by affecting adipogenesis, fat accumulation and lipid metabolism.”

Specifically, it has been observed ​that propolis is able to inhibit adipogenesis by hindering adipocyte cycle progression, as well as by affecting the expression of adipokines.

The researchers explain a further noted ​mechanism, whereby the polyphenols are able to transform white adipocytes into brown/beige fat cells. In addition, they can promote the adipocytes thermogenesis pathways.

Finally, the polyphenols were reported ​to influence the structure and metabolism of gut microbes to exhibit their beneficial health outcomes.

Variations in function

“The chemical composition of propolis is determined by the gum source plants and is affected by season, climate, bee species, collection methods, etc.”, ​the review stresses, highlighting the variations in pharmacological activities that can result from such variety.

The researchers continue to spotlight the three main propolis types studied for anti-obesity effects: Baccharis ​type, Dalbergia ​type, and poplar type, with CAPE in poplar propolis and Art-C in Brazilian green propolis being the most widely studies components.

Following this, the scientists specify: “In addition to CAPE in poplar propolis and Art-C in Brazilian green propolis, it is necessary to explore new bioactive substances in propolis. For example, besides CAPE, propolis are also very rich in other polyphenols such as p-coumaric acid and pinocembrin. It is therefore essential to investigate whether the other phenolic compounds in propolis also exert the same physiological activity.”

Following this collation of evidence representing the strong potential of propolis polyphenols to be used as within dietary intervention strategies for conditions such as obesity, the researchers urge the area to be further explored.

 

 

 

 

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition

https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2023.1066789

“Propolis polyphenols: A review on the composition and anti-obesity mechanism of different types of propolis polyphenols”

Liuying Zhu, Jinwu Zhang, Hui Yang, Guangyan Li, Hongyan Li, Zeyuan Deng and Bing Zhang

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