In the giving Christmas spirit, I wish to protect some of you from a post-holiday purchase of mistletoe extract for your new year's weight loss goals. Articles like this one can catch on like wildfire, sending people rushing to their nearest supplement and vitamin shop. The article's title is:
"Kiss goodbye to fat under the mistletoe! Plant could help fight obesity:
Mistleoe is not only good for sealing a Christmas kiss...it could hlep fight obesity-related diseases."
I agree with the sealing of a Christmas kiss, but everything else in the headline is quite misleading.
The Actual Research Study
Here is the link to the actual research study. The study's title is:
"Viscothionin isolated from Korean mistletoe impoves nonalcholic fatty liver disease via the acivation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase."
Why is viscothionin and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease important?
In short, the researchers looked at viscothionin, an extract from Korean mistletoe, which has been used as a traditional herb for a number of ailments and diseases. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects about 1/4 of Americans, and is the accumulation of fat on the liver (up to 10% of liver weight) in those who drink little to no alcohol.
Despite the root cause of NAFLD being unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (physical inactivity and poor diet), researchers continue to look for supplements and drugs to help treat it. Why? As obesity and type II diabetes continue to increase in adults and children, so does the burden of NAFLD, which includes cirrhosis and liver failure.
What did they find?
The researchers took lab mice, fed them a high fat diet to induce obesity, and then they were given an oral dosage of viscothionin each day for 4 weeks. They found that the viscothionin might have a beneficial effect on liver (hepatic) fat metabolism and weight loss (only about 5 grams), compared to a control group of mice. However, a group of mice who got an oral dosage of saline (no viscothionin) also lost weight.
So, despite what the headlines might say about mistletoe and fat loss, for now at least, you might just stick to its traditional uses for sealing a Christmas kiss (or slap in the face). Merry Christmas and happy new year!