There are more than 70 species of aralia — m are native to the woodlands of the Americas and Asia — and many forms, including evergreen trees, deciduous shrubs, and beautiful flowering plants. Aralia is also a popular Chinese herb with many medicinal applications recognized for centuries.
Aralia may be effective at preventing physical fatigue by protecting against the oxidative stress that comes from strenuous exercise. One study showed that pre-treatment with aralia showed an anti-fatigue effect on rats, mediating metabolic acidosis and lactate levels and suppressing muscle injury.
Rats that were pretreated with Aralia continentalis lasted longer before exhaustion than those that were not.
Studies show that a variety of aralia called Aralia taibaiensis could be a treatment for type 2 diabetes. In the study, diabetic rats that received aralia by mouth had lower fasting blood glucose and an increase in serum insulin than the control group, but the herb did not affect rats that were not diabetic.
Interestingly, this study also showed that aralia improved other symptoms of diabetes, including thirst, frequent urination, hunger, and weight loss.
A type of aralia called Aralia elata Seem has been studied as a potential treatment for breast cancer. This study used extracts from the leaves, which significantly reduced tumor growth in a nude rat model. Rats and beagles were also given different doses of this aralia extract, which caused no treatment-related changes in behavior, coordination, heart rate, or physical activity. While these results show that aralia may be an effective treatment for breast cancer in the future, more studies are needed.
Water extract of Aralia elata may be beneficial at preventing cataracts. Results show it has some success at preventing cataracts from developing on rat lenses in a lab, most likely due to its antioxidant properties.
Experiments on diabetic rats were also successful, lowering cataract formation by 15 and 12 percent, depending on the dose.
One study on rats showed that Aralia taibaiensis has high antioxidant activity, likely due to its ability to scavenge free radicals, preventing oxidative damage to the body.
In the study, aralia improved memory and learning in aging rats and increased antioxidant enzymes in the brain, heart, kidney, lung, serum, and spleen, showing its potential as a treatment for age-related diseases.
Aralia taibaiensis also prevented cognitive deficits in one study on rats. Neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging often lead to learning and memory deficits, and researchers believe that oxidative stress in the brain is a contributing factor.
In this study, aralia taibaiensis extracts protected against oxidative stress and cellular dysfunction in the brains of aging rats, improving learning and memory.
A study with Aralia taibaiensis evaluated whether it affected organ health in aging rats. Over time, the immune system changes, becoming less sensitive and leading to disease. The results of this study show that this type of aralia extract protects the liver of aging rats and may affect the body's immune system.
One study on Aralia elata demonstrated improved neurodegeneration from chronic alcohol use. Aralia elata had protective effects on neuronal cells and significantly improved memory, learning, and cognition in the rats in the study. Researchers believe that this results from the effects of aralia on oxidative damage in the brain tissue.
Aralia continentalis Kitag may have beneficial effects on rheumatoid arthritis. One study performed on rodents shows that the plant had anti-inflammatory effects, significantly alleviating arthritic behaviors and inflammation in mice comparable to a steroid commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
More research is needed to see if aralia supplements or medications could be an effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in humans.
Studies on toxicity of aralia done on beagles show that when taking high doses of the plant, the dogs ate much less and lost too much weight, but the research also suggests aralia is safe at lower doses. The results indicate that dogs that received appropriate doses had no side effects, giving a reference for what may be safe for human consumption.
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