Sutherlandia frutescens limits the development of insulin resistance by decreasing plasma free fatty acid levels
Intake of high caloric food induces raised plasma free fatty acids, culminating in insulin resistance (IR) and Diabetes mellitus type 2 (DMT2). The present study has shown for the first time that Sutherlandia frutescens reduces plasma free fatty acid levels in rats fed a high fat diet, thereby preventing the development of insulin resistance. A commercially available S. frutescens extract was administered to rats to examine its effects on the progression of high fat diet induced IR. In comparison to rats fed high fat diet only (positive control for IR), levels of plasma free fatty acids (FFA) were significantly reduced after one week (p < 0.025). Twelve weeks of treatment with S. frutescens reduced the level of plasma free fatty acids below that of rats fed a normal diet (negative control) (p < 0.025). QUICKI and HOMA-IR index confirmed that S. frutescens treated rats did not develop IR when fed a high fat diet for twelve weeks. In addition to preventing IR and reducing plasma FFA, chronic medication over twelve weeks decreased total cholesterol levels and the LDL/HDL ratio. We propose that S. frutescens is an effective medicinal remedy to prevent elevated plasma free fatty acids and IR, and therefore DMT2. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.