Hemp has plenty of industrial applications, and while some consumers might tout the benefits of ingesting hemp for constipation, high cholesterol, eczema, arthritis, and other conditions, evidence supporting these uses is still limited. However, new preclinical data suggests that hemp hulls contain some essential helpers for your gut.
Biosciences and artificial intelligence company Brightseed announced the preclinical data, published in peer-reviewed Journal of Food Bioactives, last week. The findings show that two bioactive compounds found in hemp hulls — N-trans caffeoyltyramine (NCT) and N-trans feruloyltyramine (NFT) — have the potential to support gut barrier function.
Hemp’s Link to Gut Health
A bioactive compound is a type of chemical found in foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, and whole grains that possess actions within the body that can promote good health. These compounds are often studied for their potential to prevent disease. While science has known that bioactives can have a critical impact on our health, the vast majority of bioactive compounds is still unknown with some dubbing it the “dark matter of nutrition.”
Gut health is connected to the immune system, central, and enteric nervous systems; therefore, it can be linked to the body’s overall health. The gut barrier allows the body to uptake essential nutrients and immune sensing, while still restricting pathogenic molecules, toxins, and bacteria. When the intestinal epithelium is more absorbent and easily penetrable, referred to as “leaky gut,” this may be a symptom of impaired gut health.
During this in vitro study, which used Brightseed’s Forager AI platform, proliferative human transverse colon epithelial cells were planted and co-cultured with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) along with NCT, NFT or NCT/NFT over a 48-hour period. Researchers reported that the addition of TNF caused a decrease in transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) and an increase in intestinal permeability, leaky gut symptoms, while co-administration of NCT and NFT caused a dose-dependent and statistically significant reversal of impaired TEER and intestinal permeability.
“This publication is the latest validation of Brightseed’s approach to discover solutions in nature to restore human health,” said Jim Flatt, Brightseed CEO and co-founder, in a press release. “These insights into how NCT and NFT can support gut function, and specifically gut barrier strength by restoring a healthy epithelium barrier, provide a strong foundation for the clinical research that is underway to substantiate the benefits of natural ingredients for personalized and proactive health solutions.”
Using AI to Uncover Bioactive Compounds
Brightseed’s Forager identified activity from the two bioactive compounds on a key biological receptor governing gut health. NCT and NFT have also been shown to act as agonists for the HNF4a protein, which when expressed in the gut is linked to a high-fat diet and can be associated with poor intestinal health and decrease gut barrier integrity.
Forager scoured the plant kingdom for novel sources of these two bioactive compounds and identified hemp hulls as one of the richest sources. Last fall, Brightseed launched Brightseed Bio 01, a hemp fiber for food and beverages, containing NCT and NFT to support gut strength and gut lining maintaining healthy gut barrier function. The hemp fiber is formulated to optimize bioactive content while retaining the fiber and nutrient profile of hemp and meant to be used in cereals, granolas, nutrition bars, functional beverages, and more.
Sofia Elizondo, COO and co-founder of Brightseed, similarly expressed excitement as Brightseed looks to continue similar insights, in developing a “portfolio of bioactive ingredients to meet important consumer health areas.”
“Brightseed’s focus on computational bioactive discovery paired with advanced metabolomics is enabling the functional food, beverage, and dietary supplements industries to unlock the full potential of bioactives for human health,” Elizondo added.