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Oligonol

What Should I Know About It?

By

Updated December 12, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Oligonol is a substance extracted from lychee fruit. Known to offer antioxidant effects, oligonol is touted as a natural remedy for a number of health problems. In addition, oligonol is said to promote weight loss and slow the aging process.

Uses for Oligonol

Oligonol is purported to help treat the following health conditions:

Oligonol is also said to aid in cancer prevention, protect the body from the negative effects of stress, and inhibit the buildup of abdominal fat.

Benefits of Oligonol

To date, research on the health effects of oligonol is fairly limited. However, there's some evidence that oligonol may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from the available studies:

1) Inflammation

Preliminary research suggests that oligonol may help reduce inflammation, an aging-related biological process linked to the development of many diseases.

In a small study published in Nutrition Research and Practice, researchers assigned 19 healthy young men to four weeks of treatment with either a placebo or a dietary supplement containing oligonol. By the study's end, those treated with oligonol showed a significantly greater decrease in several markers of inflammation (compared to members of the placebo group). In addition, oligonol appeared to help reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

2) Obesity

Several animal-based studies indicate that oligonol may offer anti-obesity effects. In a 2009 study published in Phytotherapy Research, for instance, tests on rats revealed that oligonol intake may help stimulate the breakdown of fat.

3) Diabetes

Oligonol may help protect against certain diabetes-related complications, according to animal-based research. A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that oligonol helped reduce kidney damage in diabetic mice, while a 2011 study from the same journal determined that oligonol helped shield diabetic mice from liver damage.

4) Influenza

Oligonol may help fight off the flu, suggests a 2010 study published in Phytomedicine. In a laboratory experiment, scientists discovered that oligonol may help inhibit the growth and spread of the influenza virus.

5) Cancer

Oligonol may possess anti-cancer properties, according to a preliminary study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2009. In tests on mice, the study's authors demonstrated that oligonol may help stop melanoma from spreading to other organs.

Safety

Due to a lack of scientific research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of supplements containing oligonol.

However, it's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with oligonol and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of oligonol in the treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen.

Learn more about how to use supplements safely.

Where to Find Oligonol

Widely available for purchase online, supplements containing oligonol can be found in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Sources

Gangehei L, Ali M, Zhang W, Chen Z, Wakame K, Haidari M. "Oligonol a low molecular weight polyphenol of lychee fruit extract inhibits proliferation of influenza virus by blocking reactive oxygen species-dependent ERK phosphorylation." Phytomedicine. 2010 Nov;17(13):1047-56.

Lee SJ, Chung IM, Kim MY, Park KD, Park WH, Moon HI. "Inhibition of lung metastasis in mice by oligonol." Phytother Res. 2009 Jul;23(7):1043-6.

Lee JB, Shin YO, Min YK, Yang HM. "The effect of Oligonol intake on cortisol and related cytokines in healthy young men." Nutr Res Pract. 2010 Jun;4(3):203-7.

Noh JS, Kim HY, Park CH, Fujii H, Yokozawa T. "Hypolipidaemic and antioxidative effects of oligonol, a low-molecular-weight polyphenol derived from lychee fruit, on renal damage in type 2 diabetic mice." Br J Nutr. 2010 Oct;104(8):1120-8.

Noh JS, Park CH, Yokozawa T. "Treatment with oligonol, a low-molecular polyphenol derived from lychee fruit, attenuates diabetes-induced hepatic damage through regulation of oxidative stress and lipid metabolism." Br J Nutr. 2011 Oct;106(7):1013-22.

Ogasawara J, Kitadate K, Nishioka H, Fujii H, Sakurai T, Kizaki T, Izawa T, Ishida H, Ohno H. "Comparison of the effect of oligonol, a new lychee fruit-derived low molecular form of polyphenol, and epigallocatechin-3-gallate on lipolysis in rat primary adipocytes." Phytother Res. 2011 Mar;25(3):467-71. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3296.

Ogasawara J, Kitadate K, Nishioka H, Fujii H, Sakurai T, Kizaki T, Izawa T, Ishida H, Ohno H. "Oligonol, a new lychee fruit-derived low-molecular form of polyphenol, enhances lipolysis in primary rat adipocytes through activation of the ERK1/2 pathway." Phytother Res. 2009 Nov;23(11):1626-33.

Sakurai T, Nishioka H, Fujii H, Nakano N, Kizaki T, Radak Z, Izawa T, Haga S, Ohno H. "Antioxidative effects of a new lychee fruit-derived polyphenol mixture, oligonol, converted into a low-molecular form in adipocytes." Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2008 Feb;72(2):463-76.

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