A study published in the ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has identified that Korean mistletoe produces a number of biologically active compounds. These compounds called viscothionin have a steroid and flavonoid activity.
Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds that occur generally in nature and are categorized, according to chemical structure, into flavonols, flavones, flavanones, isoflavones, catechins, anthocyanidins and chalcones.
Over 4,000 flavonoids have been identified, many of which occur in fruits, vegetables and beverages (tea, coffee, beer, wine and fruit drinks).
The flavonoids have aroused considerable interest recently because of their potential beneficial effects on human health-they have been reported to have antiviral, anti-allergic, antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, antitumor and antioxidant activities.
Viscothionin affects fat metabolism in the liver. When obese mice were exposed to the compound, their body and liver weights dropped.
The scientists conclude that viscothionin could be explored as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Sokho Kim, Dongho Lee, Jae-Kyung Kim, Jae-Hun Kim, Jong-Heum Park, Ju-Woon Lee, Jungkee Kwon. Viscothionin Isolated from Korean Mistletoe Improves Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease via the Activation of Adenosine Monophosphate-Activated Protein Kinase. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2014; 62 (49): 11876 DOI: 10.1021/jf503535s