Used as a tea since ancient times to promote healing, researchers are investigating licorice root as a treatment for type 2 diabetes. Licorice root contains amorfrutins that can may be useful in the treatment of metabolic disorders, according to Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics research. In studies involving mice, the researchers found that amorfrutins appear to reduce blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and prevent fat from being deposited in the liver. “The health-beneficial effects are based on the fact that the amorfrutin molecules dock directly onto a receptor in the nucleus called PPARy,” explains lead researcher Sascha Sauer. Because PPARy is instrumental in fat and glucose metabolism of cells, amorfrutin appears to influence the expression various genes that reduce blood levels of sugar and some fatty acids. However, because licorice tea or candy do not have a high enough concentration of amorfrutin to have an effect on blood sugar and inflammation, the researchers are working on extracting amorfrutins from the plant for possible future use as a nutritional supplement that would help prevent and treat metabolic disorders. Once they have succeeded in creating amorfrutin extracts, they plan to conduct clinical studies to test its effectiveness on patients who have type 2 diabetes.