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Existing research may benefit obesity suffers

A scientific research laboratory in Australia is a world away from the sun-soaked olive groves of the Mediterranean — but a ground-breaking scientific discovery into natural food-based products has occurred within industrious biomedical laboratories in Toowoomba. For a USQ Professor, the major breakthrough comes in the form of natural olive leaf extract and a chameleon carrot.

Professor Lindsay Brown

Professor Lindsay Brown

Specifically, Prof Lindsay Brown’s research is dispelling myths associated with anecdotal-based medicine. In conjunction with a family-run natural pharmaceuticals company based at Mt Nebo, Prof Brown and his research team conducted experiments on olive leaf extract and a little-known root vegetable species, the purple carrot.

“People have used olive leaf in the Mediterranean for 5,000 years but there is actually very little evidence to support whether it works. We did experiments on fat rats that had been fed a diet to model obesity, and then tested it. And it worked!”

Prof Brown is primarily concerned with researching natural treatments for chronic diseases including obesity, arthritis and diabetes – conditions that are particularly prevalent in the elderly. His research is the first to show that olive leaf extract reduced fat stores and inflammatory conditions in laboratory rats that had been fed a high-fat and high-carbohydrate diet.

In addition to olive leaf, Prof Brown’s current work is focused on the purple carrot.

“I think the purple carrots are a great story. At first I thought, carrots aren’t purple, but purple carrots have been around far longer than the orange one. These are not genetically modified — these are the original carrot,” he explains.

After incorporating the purple carrot juice into the rats’ high-fat diet, the research team discovered remarkable results.

“Everything goes back to normal. They’re still eating this terrible diet, but in spite of that, all that dysfunction went back to normal. It’s amazing.”

When considering his long-term goals, Prof Brown looks forward to continuing the search for foods that can improve long-term issues associated with chronic diseases.

“My aim is to look at a range of other compounds, and see whether these can also have positive effects. Ideally we will have a palette of natural products that are available for use by industry and are also available to use by people — to grow in their own garden.”

Prof Brown’s passion for his work is tangible proof that job satisfaction comes from within.

“Go with things that excite you. Doors will open,” he advises. “Don’t go to the newspaper and determine whether there are 10,000 jobs for this particular thing — the question is do you want to do that for the next 20, 30, 40 years? You only need one job — there is no use having 10,000. You really have to look at things that you think are fascinating.”