Ancient thunder god vine could hold the cure to the obesity epidemic

Ancient thunder god vine could hold the cure to the obesity epidemic

Ancient thunder god vine could hold the cure to the obesity epidemic: Herb used in traditional Chinese medicine led to a 10% drop in mice’s body weight within a WEEK

  • Extract called celastrol causes mice to eat less and subsequently lose weight
  • Celastrol creates feelings of fullness by regulating the appetite hormone leptin
  • Leptin is similar in mice and humans, with similar results expected in people
  • Researchers believe this could lead to an anti-obesity drug with ‘great potential’ 
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Ancient thunder god vine could hold the cure to the obesity epidemic, new research suggests.

The traditional Chinese medicine, which has been used for more than 400 years, contains an extract that causes severely overweight mice to eat less and consequently shed the pounds, a study found.

Lead author Dr Paul Pfluger, from the German Center for Diabetes Research, said: ‘We observed an average loss of about 10 per cent in body weight within one week.’ 

The extract, known as celastrol, is thought to create feelings of fullness by regulating the hormone leptin, which controls appetite.

Due to the hormone being similar in both mice and humans, the researchers believe they are one step closer to developing an anti-obesity drug with ‘great potential’. 

Researchers gave mice celastrol, which is produced by the Tripterygium wilfordi plant from the south of China

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A blow out breakfast, ‘average’ lunch and small dinner may be the best combination for those suffering from diabetes or obesity, research suggested in March 2018.

Obese diabetes patients following such a diet lose 11lbs (5kg) over three months compared to a 3lb (1.4kg) weight gain for those eating the traditionally recommended weight-loss plan of six small meals a day, a study found.

Sticking to just three meals a day of varying sizes also reduces diabetics’ glucose levels and insulin requirements, as well as their hunger and carbohydrate cravings, the research adds.

Lead author Dr Daniela Jakubowicz, from Tel Aviv University, said: ‘The hour of the day — when you eat and how frequently you eat — is more important than what you eat and how many calories you eat.

‘Our body metabolism changes throughout the day.

‘A slice of bread consumed at breakfast leads to a lower glucose response and is less fattening than an identical slice of bread consumed in the evening.’ 

Results further suggest fasting glucose levels decrease by 54 mg/dl (from 161 to 107) in those eating three meals a day group compared to only 23 mg/dl (from 164 to 141) in those consuming six.

Healthy levels are considered to be less than 108 mg/dl. 

Having breakfast as the main meal of the day also significantly reduces the need for insulin by -20.5 units/day (from 54.7 to 34.8) compared to those spread out throughout the day, which requires people have 2.2 more units a day (from 67.8 to 70).

Overall amounts of glucose in the blood are also lower just 14 days after adopting a three meal a day eating plan. 

Herb causes weight loss by reducing hunger  

The researchers gave mice celastrol, which is produced by the Tripterygium wilfordi plant from the south of China. It caused them to eat less and subsequently lose weight.

When healthy rodents were given the herb, levels of a specific protein, known as UCP1, which is associated with heat production, increased in their fatty tissue.

The scientists therefore initially suspected celastrol causes weight loss by boosting heat production and therefore calorie burning, however, when the herb was given to obese mice, UCP1 levels did not rise. It is unclear why the effects differed.

They then fed celastrol to mice who did not produce the hormone leptin, with such animals experiencing no weight loss.

Celastrol is therefore thought to cause weight loss by changing leptin levels and therefore influencing hunger.

‘Celastrol has great potential’ 

Speaking of the findings, published in the journal Diabetes, co-author Katrin Pfuhlmann said: ‘Celastrol reactivates the body’s own mechanisms for controlling weight that would otherwise be switched off in obese individuals.

‘Normally those affected lose that feeling of fullness because the respective hormone – leptin – no longer has any effect. 

‘Celastrol restores leptin sensitivity and thus the sense of satiety.’

On the back of the results in obese mice, the researchers believe celastrol may help severely overweight people lose five-to-10 percent of their body weight a year, as advised by the German Association for the Study of Obesity.

At present, few people achieve this goal.

Dr Pfluger said: ‘Breaking through this “magical barrier” is so important, as it leads to an improvement in metabolism and accompanying metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

‘Since the satiety hormone leptin has an almost identical effect in humans and mice, celastrol has great potential.’

While Dr Pfluger stresses celastrol cannot replace a healthy diet and exercise, he adds it could help people towards achieving their weight-loss goals.

Studies investigating celastrol in humans are ongoing in the US.

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