Hops cones

Metabolic syndrome is an increasing problem in the United States. At least 1/4 of the adults meet the criteria - abdominal obesity, elevated blood lipids, high blood pressure, high inflammation, and insulin resistance. This puts them at significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and a lifetime of health problems.

Health care from obesity and related disorders account for up to 10 percent of money the U.S. spends on health care.

To help combat this rising tide, researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute have identified a compound from hops that significantly improve markers of metabolic syndrome and reduced weight gain. Dr. Fred Stevens and his team at the Linus Pauling Institute has shown the potential of a specific flavonoids found in hops, xanthohumol, that significantly symptoms of metabolic syndrome in laboratory animals.

Xanthohumol has been the subject of considerable research for its potential health benefits, as have other flavonoids such as those found in tea, garlic, chocolate, apples and blueberries. The compound is found naturally in hops and beer, but the equivalent dose used in this study far exceeds any amount that could be obtained by ordinary dietary intake. A level that high would equate to a beer intake of 3,500 pints per day for a human adult.

If developed further, these levels of xanthohumol could be obtained in a dietary supplement that could be taken once a day. It might be a new approach that could fight such issues such as obesity, high cholesterol and elevated glucose.

“This is the first time we’ve seen one compound with the potential to address so many health problems,” said Cristobal Miranda, a research assistant professor with OSU’s Linus Pauling Institute and lead author on this study. “These were very dramatic improvements.”

However, more research funding is required to show safety and efficacy in humans.

“Work is still needed to further demonstrate the safety of high doses of xanthohumol,” said Dr. Stevens, "But dosages 15-30 times higher have already been given to animals with no apparent problems."

The researchers hope that with additional funding, this might help develop an effective treatment for metabolic syndrome at a very low cost.

Can a compound found naturally in hops help fight obesity?