The Potential Anti-Hypertensive Effects of Japanese Plum Infused Juice Concentrate

Category Health

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Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have found a promising alternative for the treatment of hypertension in the form of an infused juice concentrate of the Japanese plum. In experiments with mice, this concentrate was found to attenuate the growth-promoting signals induced by angiotensin II and significantly improve several parameters of cardiovascular function.

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Processed, infused juice concentrate shown to have anti-hypertensive effects in mice. More than 122 million Americans – about half of the U.S. population ages 20 and older – have high blood pressure, referred to medically as hypertension. Hypertension is a major cause of cardiovascular disease, and despite advances in treatment, even patients who take medications to control their blood pressure remain at high risk of death from diseases like heart attack, heart failure, and stroke .

Prunus mume is the Latin name of the Japanese plum

The lack of new drugs to effectively control hypertension and associated cardiovascular problems has fueled a search for novel treatment strategies, and now, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have found a promising alternative. In new work, the Temple researchers show that cardiovascular disease risk may be reduced with a simple juice concentrate from the Japanese plum (Prunus mume) – a fruit that is widely consumed in Asian countries and that is promoted as a health food in Japan .

Bainiku-ekisu has been recommended by Japanese physicians for over a century

The new findings are described online in the journal Hypertension Research. "It is recognized that drugs alone are not enough to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in hypertension patients," explained Satoru Eguchi, MD, PhD, FAHA, Professor in the Cardiovascular Research Center, Sol Sherry Thrombosis Research Center, and Center for Metabolic Disease Research at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and senior investigator and co-corresponding author on the new study .

The findings of this study were made in a mouse model and still need to be verified in humans

"To help solve this problem, we became interested in a supplement that could potentially decrease cardiovascular disease risk and began investigating the effects of bainiku-ekisu, an infused juice concentrate of the Japanese plum." The raw fruit of the Japanese plum, traditionally referred to as "Ume" in Japan, contains toxins, and it is therefore often processed into juices or wine that are safe for consumption .

In traditional Japanese medicine, the fruit has also been widely used as an antipyretic

The infused juice concentrate, known as bainiku-ekisu, has been consumed in Japan as a health supplement since at least the 18th century. Numerous claims have been made about the benefits of bainiku-ekisu, including an ability to prevent heart disease, and although limited, evidence from previous studies so far supports these claims. In experiments in smooth muscle cells of blood vessels, bainiku-ekisu was found to attenuate growth-promoting signals induced by angiotensin II – a circulatory hormone that plays a central role in the development of hypertension .

Prunus mume is also known as Chinese plums and Japanese apricots

To better understand the potential anti-hypertensive effects of bainiku-ekisu, Dr. Eguchi and Dr. Hirotoshi Utsunomiya, Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation at Osaka Kawasaki Rehabilitation University in Japan and co-corresponding author on the new report, utilized a mouse model in which animals received infusions of angiotensin II to induce hypertension. Mice were then given either plain water, in the control group, or water containing bainiku-ekisu .

Bainiku-ekisu is a unique extract from Japanese plums that is produced by a natural process of steeping and infusion

Evaluation of cardiovascular function and vascular tissues from both groups of mice revealed stark differences. Most notably, mice given bainiku-ekisu did not develop hypertension, and in these animals tissular and vascular damage was significantly attenuated. In addition, several parameters of the cardiovascular function in anesthetized mice were significantly improved after receiving bainiku-ekisu .

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