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Food Funct. 2015 Jun;6(6):1865-74. doi: 10.1039/c5fo00160a.

Salicylic acid elicitation during cultivation of the peppermint plant improves anti-diabetic effects of its infusions.

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Research and Graduate Studies in the Department of Food Science, School of Chemistry, Universidad Autónoma de Queretaro, C.U., Cerro de las Campanas, S/N. Queretaro, Queretaro, 76010, Mexico.


Peppermint (Mentha piperita) infusions represent an important source of bioactive compounds with health benefits, which can be enhanced by applying salicylic acid (SA) during plant cultivation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of SA (0, 0.5 and 2 mM) during peppermint cultivation on the chemical profile of saponins and alkaloids, as well as the anti-diabetic properties of the resulting infusions. The results showed that a 2 mM SA treatment significantly improved the chemical profiles of the infusions. Furthermore, the administration of 2 mM SA-treated peppermint infusions for 4 weeks to a high-fat diet/streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats decreased serum glucose levels (up to 25%) and increased serum insulin levels (up to 75%) as compared with the diabetic control. This can be related to the observed protection on pancreatic β-cells. Furthermore, 0.5 and 2 mM SA-treated peppermint infusions decreased LDL (24 and 47%, respectively) and increased HDL levels (18 and 37%, respectively). In addition, all groups treated with peppermint infusions had lower serum and liver triglyceride contents, where 2 mM SA peppermint infusion showed the highest effect (44% and 56%, respectively). This is probably caused by its higher capacity to inhibit pancreatic lipase activity and lipid absorption. Moreover, SA-treated peppermint infusions improved the steatosis score in diabetic rat liver and decreased serum transaminase levels, probably as a result of the increase in steroidal saponins and alkaloids, such as trigonellin. Therefore, the application of 2 mM SA during cultivation of peppermint could be used to improve the anti-diabetic properties of peppermint infusions.

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