Helichrysum italicum (Roth) G. Don and Helichrysum arenarium (L.) Moench Infusion Consumption Affects the Inflammatory Status and the Composition of Human Gut Microbiota in Patients with Traits of Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Comparative Study

Helichrysum italicum (Roth) G. Don (HI) and Helichrysum arenarium (L.) Moench (HA) are rich in polyphenols and their infusions have beneficial effects for patients with metabolic syndrome. To investigate whether these effects are mediated by the gut microbiota, we analysed the effects of daily consumption of HI or HA infusion on the composition of gut microbiota, inflammatory status, and zonulin, a marker of gut barrier permeability. The study was a randomized, double-blind comparative trial. Thirty participants were randomly assigned to two groups and received either HA or HI tea filter bags, each containing 1 g of dried plant material, for daily consumption lasting 4 weeks. The results show that consumption of both infusions resulted in a reduction of some genera belonging to Firmicutes and in a slight but significant reduction in Shannon diversity index. Consumption of HI infusion significantly reduced serum levels of proinflammatory markers and zonulin alongside with the observed trend of Proteobacteria reduction. It can therefore be concluded that the HI and HA infusions could act as prebiotics and thus improve the intestinal environment. In addition, HI infusion has a positive impact on microbial dysbiosis and gut barrier dysfunction that occur in obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Funding Information
  • Slovenian Research Agency (research program P1-0386, infrastructure program I0-0035)
  • European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development LAG Istra (project 33152-247/217/15, project SMILJ)