Money may not grow on trees, but apparently a powerful cholesterol, obesity, and insulin sensitivity fighter does.
In fact, according to new studies reported on in the January 2011 issue of Cell Metabolism, the bark of the birch tree is a real powerhouse when it comes to fighting a wide variety of health problems that are associated with metabolic dysfunction.
When scientists tested an extract of the tree bark…known as betulin…on mice that were being fed a high-fat Western diet, they found that the bark extract out performed the cholesterol-lowering statin drug Lovastatin.
Over a six-week period, the betulin-treated mice not only experienced a drop in their cholesterol levels but also showed a measurable improvement in insulin sensitivity. In other words, the bark may be an effective non drug approach to fighting Type II diabetes.
But that’s not all. During the six-week study scientists observed that the betulin mice were literally burning more calories than were mice on Lovastatin or a placebo. Despite no changes being made to their diet, the extract actually caused the mice to lose weight!
If you’re familiar with herbal medicine, you may have heard of birch-bark remedies before. Betulin has been used as an herbal remedy for at least several hundred years, and although you aren’t likely to find it on the shelves of your local supermarket you’re not going to have to chow down on a plate of tree bark to get its benefits. You can find betulin supplements online and in some specialty health-food stores.
Sadly, the extract is already being used as a prescursor to manufacture other drugs—so I fear it may not be long before Big Pharma gets wind of its profit potential and we see a synthetic version of betulin come to market as an overpriced drug with a long list of side effects.
Alice Wessendorf is an enthusiastic believer in the power of natural healing, Alice has spent virtually her entire 15-year career in the natural-health publishing field helping to spread the word. Follow her on twitter.