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That's what plants crave.
Osmolytes are protective molecules that can have antioxydant, anti-inflammatory or are thought to be useful for neurodegenerative diseases or even cancer.
Here is a non-exhaustive list:
Their biological role is to counter osmotic stress, i.e. when cells are stressed because of a difference of osmolarity (concentration of solutes) between the inside and the outside of them. They are also useful because they help proteins being in their proper structure (conformation).
They are also known to influence water such that it gains a structure that is important for the cells’ metabolism. Here is one publication making an hypothesis about a potential cancer therapy with help of osmolytes:
It is a common practice to envision cancer exclusively as a genetic disease, however, in our perspective, changes in gene expression leading to malignancy are secondary to biochemical disturbances and at its core we consider cancer as a metabolic energetic disease. In this regard, incongruence with the concept of the bioenergetic theory of carcinogenesis, we propose structured water (EZ water), as an element that facilitates the correction of the fundamental energy disruption and the reestablishment of health. The prime approach for this therapy would be to infuse kosmotropic osmolytes by the intravenous route to improve the physiological conditions and promote the reduction of cancer growth with no side effects. By doing so, we could expect that the cells will regain their communication ability with a functioning Ras and p53 proteins and other metabolic and transcription factors. The end goal is to support the cell in overcoming its low-energy anaerobic glycolytic metabolism that favors uncontrolled growth and regain the full energetic potential of oxidative phosphorylation that supports controlled cell division and differentiation. To achieve this goal, we propose the use of metabolic correction to improve the membrane function of the mitochondria. The use of precursors, enzymatic cofactors, and a variety of biological response modifiers which includes structured water and its kosmotropic properties in enzyme dynamics are part of the metabolic correction concept.
Betaine is thought to be useful regarding cancer metabolism because it increases the proper metabolism of glucose and the production of energy (ATP) in the mitochondria:
Betaine protects cells from environmental stress and serves as a methyl donor in several biochemical pathways. It reduces cardiovascular disease risk and protects liver cells from alcoholic liver damage and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Its pretreatment can rescue cells exposed to toxins such as rotenone, chloroform, and LiCl. Furthermore, it has been suggested that betaine can suppress cancer cell growth in vivo and in vitro. Mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) complexes generate the mitochondrial membrane potential, which is essential to produce cellular energy, ATP. Reduced mitochondrial respiration and energy status have been found in many human pathological conditions including aging, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease. In this study we investigated whether betaine directly targets mitochondria. We show that betaine treatment leads to an upregulation of mitochondrial respiration and cytochrome c oxidase activity in H2.35 cells, the proposed rate limiting enzyme of ETC in vivo. Following treatment, the mitochondrial membrane potential was increased and cellular energy levels were elevated. We propose that the anti-proliferative effects of betaine on cancer cells might be due to enhanced mitochondrial function contributing to a reversal of the Warburg effect.