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Carnosic acid: potential slimming aid from rosemary

Carnosic acid is used in toothpaste, processed meat, pizzas and sauces. It occurs naturally in ordinary herbs, and functions well as a biological conserving agent. Carnosic acid may also be a slimming aid, write Korean nutritionist in the Journal of Cancer Prevention.

Carnosic acid
Carnosic acid
Carnosic acid is a diterpene found in herbs such as rosemary. Its structural formula is shown below.

Yep, the study we're going to bore you with today was an in-vitro one. And yes, loads of substances that have interesting effects on cells in laboratories in Asia don't necessarily have the same effect on humans.

The reason we think this study is worthwhile, is that it's dead easy for supplements makers to get hold of carnosic acid. It's been on the market for years as an biological conservation agent. The toxicity of carnosic acid has been studied in detail, and in the EU the stuff is registered as safe. [The EFSA Journal (2008) 721, 1-29.]

So there you go. Suddenly the Korean study has become a lot more interesting.

The researchers exposed young fat cells floating in a liquid to various concentrations of carnosic acid. The carnosic acid inhibited the growth and development of the fat cells. The higher the concentration of carnosic acid, the less fat the cells stored.

Carnosic acid: potential slimming aid from rosemary

Carnosic acid inhibited the manufacture of the protein PPAR-gamma, which fat cells use to 'see' fatty acids. It also did the same with SCD1, an enzyme that synthesises the fatyy acid oleic acid in fat cells. There are indications that when obesity is involved or some malignant forms of cancer, the activity of SCD1 becomes too high.

Carnosic acid: potential slimming aid from rosemary

Carnosic acid: potential slimming aid from rosemary

Perhaps carnosic acid is a cancer inhibitor. Or a slimming aid. Or both.

We will go in search of more information. We probably won't find a human study, but it would be nice to stumble across an animal study.

J Cancer Prev. 2015 Mar;20(1):41-9.

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