Among the neat and unique benefits of using medicinal herbs as part of a fitness and weight loss regime is that many herbs change the way your cells work. They can have lasting effects on the physiology and genetic expression of your cells! Over time, this leads to significant shifts in your endocrine, nervous, and immune systems, thereby improving your overall health.
Many herbs used to facilitate and speed up weight loss have similar effects on the body, although they often exert their effects via different mechanisms of action. Most commonly, herbs help to:
· reduce appetite and/or cravings
· improve nutrient metabolism
· increase breakdown of stored fat (a process known as lipolysis)
· regulate blood sugar through a variety of means
African mango seed extract is an example of an herb that exhibits all these properties.
Common Names: African mango, dika nut, bush mango, wild mango
Botanical Name: Irvingia gabonensis, syn. Mangifera gabonensis
Part(s) Used Nutritionally: Fruit flesh, seed kernel
- Fruit flesh rich in vitamins especially Bs and C, fibre, minerals, carbohydrates, amino acids
- Seed kernel rich in fats, phospholipids, fibre including soluble mucilaginous fibre, amino acids, carbohydrates, minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron
Part(s) Used Medicinally: Seed kernel, root, leaf, bark
Medicinal Uses (Seed Kernel): Appetite suppressant, anti-hyperglycaemic, anti-hypercholesterolemic, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-coagulant, anti-diabetic, body fat reduction
Mechanisms of Medicinal Action (Seed Kernel):
- Appetite suppression: African mango seed extract promotes the synthesis and release of two hormones, leptin and adiponectin, from fat cells (in particular, white fat cells). These two hormones are involved in the regulation of appetite, fat metabolism, and fat storage.
Leptin signals to the hypothalamus that sufficient calories have been ingested and that hunger signals can be diminished. Therefore, leptin helps to modulate appetite such that higher levels of circulating leptin correlate to decreased appetite / increased satiety.
On the other hand, adiponectin promotes the break down of fat via a metabolic process known as lipolysis. It therefore decreases the amount of fat stored in adipocytes and literally shrinks fat cells. Adiponectin also has anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-atherogenic, and anti-obesity properties. It helps to maintain and improve insulin sensitivity of body cells, especially liver and skeletal muscle cells. As a result of all its properties, adiponectin indirectly decreases appetite because it improves cell nutrition as well as the production of energy within the cell.
What's particularly exceptional about African mango is that it impacts the activity of these hormones at the level of gene expression. This implies that African mango has long lasting effects on fat metabolism and fat cell physiology.
- Blood sugar lowering (anti-hyperglycaemic) & anti-diabetic: African mango is rich in soluble fibres that are mucilaginous. These delay the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine, thereby increasing satiety and allowing sugar to absorb into the bloodstream slowly. This ensures that the blood, pancreas, and other body cells aren't flooded with a high concentration of sugars (such as glucose and fructose) all at once. This helps to ameliorate and prevent insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to obesity as well as metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
Clinical studies as well as research done on animals suggests that African mango seed extract improves sugar uptake and metabolism in a variety of cells and organs, including red blood cells and kidneys, which are particularly sensitive and vulnerable to metabolic disorders such as diabetes.
- Blood cholesterol lowering (anti-hypercholesterolemic): The mucilaginous soluble fibres present in African mango seed bind dietary cholesterol, help reduce the amount of dietary cholesterol absorbed into the bloodstream, and facilitate its elimination via the stool.
African mango seed may also impact the enzymatic pathways involved in the synthesis and metabolism of cholesterol and lipoproteins because it tends to lower circulating levels of LDL cholesterol while increasing levels of circulating HDL cholesterol.
- Blood lipid lowering (anti-hyperlipidemic): Similar to mechanisms for anti-hypercholesterolemic effects.
- Body fat reduction: Reductions in body fat naturally occur as a result of all the above actions. Moreover, African mango extracts help to inhibit the differentiation of immature fat cells (pre-adipocytes, which appear to be metabolically inactive and incapable of storing fat) into mature fat cells (adipocytes, which are metabolically active and store fat, and thus contribute to weight gain).
- For reducing body weight and lowering blood levels of cholesterol, the recommended intake is 1 gram of crude seed extract taken 3 times per day or 150 mg of standardized seed extract 2 times per day.
- Safety studies revealed that doses of up to 250 mg of African mango extract per kilogram of body weight per day administered to rats for a total of 90 days exhibited no signs of toxicity or mutagenicity. Moreover, no adverse effects have been reported in any published clinical studies to date.