According to a research published in the journal Cell the thunder god vine could be helpful in treating obesity. The plant has been used for a long time in traditional Chinese medicine. In the new study researchers have discovered that Celastrol, a compound found in the plant, has weight loss effects.
Celastrol can help obese persons to lose weight by reducing the food intake. The compound is a powerful appetite-suppressant which increases the appetite-suppressant functions of the leptin hormone. This discovery makes scientists hope that the compound could be used in developing a drug which can treat obesity.
Leptin is a hormone involved in satiety. Its function is to let the body know when it has had enough to eat. In the case of humans leptin levels can be inconsistent. It was proved that insatiable eaters have lower levels of this hormone. Scientists have been dealing with the problem of leptin resistance for a long time, but their efforts led nowhere.
Senior author of the study endocrinologist Umut Ozcan ofthe Harvard Medical School and the Boston Children’s Hospital said that for over two decades researchers have been trying to treat obesity by stopping leptin resistance. Although they were unsuccessful so far the findings of this new study suggest that there is still hope.
The study was conducted on obese mice. Researchers discovered that mice who were given high doses of Chinese thunder god vine extract for one week ate 80% less food than the mice that were not offered the extract. After three weeks in which the mice were treated with this compound they lost 45% of their body weight, whereas mice in the control group had the same weight.
It is not yet clear if the extract would work the same for humans. Radiology resident Dr. Eric Newman from the Jacobi Medical Center in New York was not involved in the study, but he remarked that mice and humans are not the same. Ozcan declared:
“The message from this study is that there is still hope for making leptin work, and there is still hope for treating obesity.”
The weight-loss effect which was observed in mice was more effective than bariatric surgery in mice which led to a weight loss of 35% to 40%. The study also found out that the compound decreases the level of cholesterol in mice. It also improves the metabolism of glucose and the liver function.
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