Hunger is not bad, it’s usually a sign from your body that you need food. Your body requires energy which is obtained from food, the sensation of “feeling hungry” is a survival mechanism that your body uses in order to get energy when it’s running low.
However, due to the different type of foods we eat, there’s a huge imbalance of hormones that leads to a misleading feeling of hunger which results in overeating which in turn, leads to obesity. Being overweight is not healthy, in fact, it’s quite dangerous as it’s a direct contributor towards heart disease. Unfortunately, obesity is rapidly increasing across the world.
In the United States alone, it’s estimated that 93 million people are overweight. Of course, overeating is one contributor to obesity, there are many other factors which impact a person’s weight. For example, some people are genetically ‘big’ or ‘heavy’. Some people have slow metabolisms which are why explains how some people gain weight even after eating less.
No matter what the reason for being overweight, it’s possible for almost anyone to shed those extra pounds. Getting rid of food cravings is a big challenge. However, if one is able to succeed, then they’ve achieved 50% of their weight loss goals, the rest is persistence and hard work. There are a lot of ways to help deal with hunger cravings, however, Helmholtz Zentrum München in Germany believe that they may have found a chemical that can help instead.
What is this chemical all about?
The chemical, known as celastrol comes from a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. Celastrol is produced by the thunder god vine (Tripterygium wilfordii), found in South China. The chemical’s been researched before, as a possible treatment for cancer or rheumatoid arthritis. However, scientists have now seen that the chemical can help tackle obesity too.
The testing was done on obese mice. Researchers found that the chemical was responsible for activating the satiety ‘parts’ of our body. These parts are located in the brain through which our brain gives the signal or ‘feeling’ of fullness. Therefore, the chemical can ‘switch off’ hunger. The study is quite interesting because it opens up new ways to aid weight loss.
“Celastrol reactivates the body’s own mechanisms for controlling weight that would otherwise be switched off in obese individuals.”- Katrin Pfuhlmann, a Ph.D. student, one of the researchers.
Another key thing celastrol does is rejuvenate the leptin sensitivity in our bodies. Leptin is a hormone released by body fat, more specifically the adipose tissue. It’s responsible for triggering the feeling of fullness. When people become leptin resistant, they often tend to overeat which leads to obesity. According to Pfuhlmann:
“Normally those affected lose that feeling of fullness because the respective hormone — leptin — no longer has any effect. Celastrol, the compound we examined, restores leptin sensitivity and thus the sense of satiety.”
Celastrol helping with weight loss
As established earlier, if food cravings are dealt with, the weight loss journey becomes much easier. Dr. Pfluger observed how the mice they tested showed impressive weight loss in short periods of time. He observed that they were eating significantly less amount of food compared to before and they had lost around 10 percent of their body weight in just one week.
This is pretty exciting since the leptin system in mice is similar to the one present in humans. The research will now be followed up on humans, with human trials already taking place in the U.S. A new celastrol-based drug could be created which, along with a good diet and exercise program will be a recipe for rapid weight-loss.