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Published 10 March 2021

Harnessing the power of dahlia plants to help prevent diabetes

Dahlia 'Graceland'. Image: Jan Mehlich, CC BY-SA 3.0

Alex Tups is getting closer to forming a life-changing natural product that is hoped will help millions living with type 2 diabetes globally


First published on 1 News

The product is derived from extract from a dahlia plant, which has been found to have unusually strong anti-diabetic properties. The team, led by Associate Professor Tups at the University of Otago, has found several highly potent chemicals in dahlia plants and is now making them into a natural product to tackle one of our biggest health issues. “Nearly 450 million people in the world have diabetes and this is actually maybe one of the first treatments in the world that treats the root cause of the disease which is brain inflammation,” says Tups. About 1 million Kiwis have pre-diabetes, some without even knowing it -70 per cent of them will go on to develop diabetes if untreated.

Type 2 diabetes can usually be controlled by lifestyle factors, sufferers are not insulin-dependent. It's hoped the extract from the dahlia plant will prevent this progression and limit long-term effects for those who already have it. "You would reduce your glucose levels in your blood, and thereby you would avoid all long-term complications; blindness, amputations unfortunately and heart disease,” Tups says. The university is working with Aroma New Zealand to bring the product to market. “We've got the opportunity to help thousands and millions of people globally so it is very exciting to be a part of that process,” says Director of Aroma New Zealand, Ben Winters.

More than 300 thousand dahlia blooms will be processed this season which will be developed into capsules, ready to be consumed. There has already been one successful clinical trial to test the capsule's safety, now there's a second to determine the dose and participants, who must be Wellington-based, are desperately needed. “If you want to be a part of this amazing story, it would be nice to sign up,” Tups says.

The researchers are looking for males over 18 years of age with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes in the wider Wellington area. Men keen to take part should contact the research centre:
Email diabetesresearch@ccdhb.org.nz
Tel +64 4 806 2458
Participants will receive a small payment in recognition of their time.