Supplementing a high-fat diet with powdered leaves taken from Native American persimmon trees can inhibit weight gain and lower both food intake and plasma lipid levels, research shows. Scientists believe that the rich fiber and phenolic content of persimmon leaves, which are commonly used to make tea in India, increases the amount of lipids removed from the body as feces. "Since the persimmon leaves have beneficial effects on hemostatsis, constipation, hypertension, apoplexy, weight loss and atherosclerosis, they have been broadly applied in food and medicine," says J Lee, from the Ottogi Research Center in Kyonngi-do, The Republic of Korea and colleagues.
To investigate if the leaves also improved metabolism and lipid levels, the team fed three groups of rats either a normal control, high-fat, or high-fat with powdered whole persimmon leaf diet, for 6 weeks. Eating the high-fat diet without persimmon leaves increased the rats' body weight by an average 114% in comparison with those fed the normal control diet. However, rats eating the persimmon leaf supplemented high-fat diet had a final body weight similar to that of the normal control group after 6 weeks.
"Thus indicating that persimmon leaf supplementation suppressed the excess body weight gain that could be induced by high-fat feeding," say the authors in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. They added that these rats gained less weight because persimmon leaf consumption suppressed their food intake, perhaps via the hormone leptin, levels of which were higher in the leaf-supplemented group than the high-fat only group.
Eating persimmon leaves with a high-fat diet also created a less atherogenic lipid profile by lowering plasma total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, while increasing the ratio of high-density lipo-protein cholesterol to total cholesterol. Finally, the researchers say the fact that rats eating persimmon leaves had a higher daily fecal weight than the high-fat only group, shows that the "combined effect of high-fiber and high-phenolic content in persimmon leaf itself could enhance the fecal excretion of neutral and acidic sterol." They conclude: "Efficacy tests of lipid-lowering action of persimmon leaf suggest that this whole persimmon leaf food would be beneficial for regulation of lipid metabolism or prevention of hyperlipidemia in an experimental animal model."
The tannins and flavonoids in Persimmon leaves have anti-hypertensive, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-mutagenic properties. The leaf also acts as a mild laxative. It is used for hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Persimmon leaf extract containing astragalin, when taken orally, acts as a natural antihistamine which helps to reduce allergic reactions. It relieves the symptoms of dermatitis, reducing inflammation and thickening of the skin. Persimmon leaves also alleviate itching. The astringent raw Persimmon fruit is used to treat constipation, gastro-intestinal irritation, dysentery, chronic diarrhea, ulceration of the bowel and stomach, catarrh of the rectum and colon, hemorrhoids, and to stop bleeding.
Persimmon leaves are a good source of important dietary antioxidants, such as vitamin A & C and flavonoids. It has been widely used as a tea in oriental countries. In particular, several tannins and flavonoids isolated from persimmon leaf were recently found to have antihypertensive, anticarcinogenic and antimutagenic actions. It is highly possible, therefore, that persimmon leaves may be developed into potential sources of natural antioxidants and therapeutic drugs.
Persimmon leaf is anti-allergic and anti-pruritic in composition; in other words, an allergy or itching preventive food. Furthermore, research has proven the therapeutic effect of persimmon leaf extract on those suffering from dermatitis. The preventive effect of persimmon leaf extract on the dermatitis was dose-dependent and a continuous intake of persimmon leaf extract significantly decreased its onset and development. There were no significant adverse reactions observed. As well, studies have shown that supplementation of persimmon leaf improves lipid profiles and suppresses body weight gain in animals that were fed high-fat diets. It is also used topically in some beauty products to help to clarify the skin and eliminate dull and dark areas.
Persimmon has been cultivated in Japan for at least 1,000 years, where it is considered the national fruit. So it only seems natural that Japanese researchers discovered that the main flavonoid in persimmon-astragalin-inhibits the release of histamine in mice suffering from atopic dermatitis. When the mice were given persimmon extract, they exhibited fewer behavioral symptoms, such as scratching and biting their skin. There was also a reduction of serum IgE, the antibodies produced in response to an allergen. Additionally, tissue samples showed there was less inflammation and thickening of the skin.
British Journal of Dermatology - "Oral administration of persimmon leaf extract ameliorates skin symptoms "
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology - "Persimmon leaf extract and astragalin inhibit development of dermatitis"
Lipids Online - "Eating persimmon leaves inhibits weight gain and lowers lipid levels."