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Can Berries Boost Diabetes Treatment?

Type 2 diabetes affects millions worldwide, often requiring a multifaceted management approach involving medication and lifestyle changes. While metformin stands as a common and effective drug, it can come with side effects. Now, a new study published in Journal of Diabetes Research explores a promising avenue: combining metformin with the power of polyphenols found in certain berries.

The study, conducted by Zima et al., focused on the synergistic potential of a polyphenol-rich blend AP029 derived from three specific fruits: black currant (Ribes nigrum L.), chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott), and black elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) extracts, alongside metformin. The researchers conducted both in vitro (cell-based) and in vivo (animal model) experiments to investigate the combined effects.

In cell cultures, the polyphenol blend demonstrated positive effects on key metabolic parameters. It effectively reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels while simultaneously enhancing glucose uptake, suggesting improved cellular response to insulin. These effects are likely linked to the blend’s influence on the AMPK pathway, a crucial regulator of energy metabolism.

Moving to the in vivo phase, the researchers observed even more compelling results. The combination of the polyphenol blend and metformin significantly outperformed either treatment alone in reducing both insulin levels and fasting glucose concentrations. This synergistic effect suggests that these natural compounds could amplify the effectiveness of metformin, potentially leading to better blood sugar control for patients.

While these findings are preliminary and require further investigation through large-scale clinical trials, they offer a beacon of hope for improved diabetes management.

The potential implications are significant:

Enhanced treatment efficacy: The synergistic relationship between the polyphenol blend and metformin could lead to more effective blood sugar management and potentially slow down the progression of the disease.

Reduced metformin dosage: The enhanced effects might allow for lower metformin doses, potentially minimizing side effects like gastrointestinal issues that some patients experience.

Dietary interventions: This research strengthens the argument for incorporating specific polyphenol-rich extracts like black currant, chokeberry, and elderberry as part of a holistic diabetes management plan.

The synergistic interaction of these polyphenols with metformin not only aids in glucose metabolism but also provides cellular protection from oxidative stress and reduces inflammatory pathways, which are critical in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. These findings suggest that incorporating polyphenols could enhance the therapeutic efficacy of metformin, potentially allowing for lower dosages and improved treatment adherence by mitigating side effects.

However, further extensive clinical research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms, determine the appropriate dosages, and confirm the long-term safety and efficacy of this combined therapeutic strategy.


Zima, K., Khaidakov, B., Banaszkiewicz, L., et al. (2024). Exploring the Potential of Ribes nigrum L., Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott, and Sambucus nigra L. Fruit Polyphenol-Rich Composition and Metformin Synergy in Type 2 Diabetes Management. Journal of Diabetes Research, 2024, 1092462.

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