Luo Han Guo Extract is derived from the exotic plant Siraitia grosvenorii, a herbaceous perennial vine of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, native to southern China and northern Thailand. The plant is cultivated for its fruit, whose extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used in China as a natural low-calorie sweetener for cooling drinks, and in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diabetes and obesity. The fruit from this plant is referred to as Luo Han Guo or Luo Han Luo, and sometimes as Monk Fruit.
This plant and fruit have been used to support various medical claims, including supporting the immune system, the digestive tract, glands and the respiratory system.
In the food and beverage industry, Luo Han Guo Extract is used a very powerful specialty sweetener.
The sweet taste of Luo Han Guo is attributed to the mogrosides, which are a group of terpene glycosides known to be 250 times sweeter than sucrose. Lo Han Guo is a great zero calorie sweetener, which is great for diabetics.
A process for isolating the sweet components of the fruit (mogrosides) and eliminating the undesired flavors was patented in 1995, and the resulting Luo Han Guo Extract was a neutral tasting sweetener that was granted “Generally Regarded as Safe” (GRAS) status by the US FDA in 1997.
A 2008 study demonstrated the positive impact the mogrosides extract had on the health of diabetic mice. When the extract was administered for 4 weeks, a decrease in the mice’s blood sugar, total cholesterol and trigycerides was noted, along with an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. It was concluded that the extract may have the capacity to inhibit hyperglycemia induced by diabetes, and the data suggests it may be helpful in the prevention of diabetic complications associated with oxidative stress and hyperlipidemia.