Chinese thunder god vine may treat obesity

Chinese thunder god vine may treat obesity

Thunder god vine is an herb and its leaves and root are used in traditional medicine.

Thunder god vine is often used for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), heavy menstrual flows, and multiple sclerosis, fever, edema and chills to name a few.

New research published in Cell has found that an extract from Chinese thunder god vine may treat obesity.

This weight loss compound is called Celastrol, and it works by activating an appetite-suppressing hormone called leptin.

During the last two decades, there has been an enormous amount of effort to treat obesity by breaking down leptin resistance, but these efforts have failed,” says senior study author Umut Ozcan, an endocrinologist from Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “The message from this study is that there is still hope for making leptin work, and there is still hope for treating obesity. If Celastrol works in humans as it does in mice, it could be a powerful way to treat obesity and improve the health of many patients suffering from obesity and associated complications, such as heart disease, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes.”

Leptin is a hormone that sends signals to the brain when the body has enough fuel and energy. When humans lack the leptin hormone signaling, it can trigger overeating and obesity.

In Ozcan’s new study, his team analyzed a database of whole-genome gene expression profiles from human cells that were treated with a variety of molecules. They found that Celastrol was the most effective at improving leptin sensitivity in human cells. Within just one week of Celastrol treatment, obese mice reduced their food intake by 80 percent compared to untreated mice. By the third week of treatment, the mice lost almost 45 percent of their body weight by burning stored fat.

The Celastrol produced additional benefits as well. As written in the study statement: “Celastrol decreased cholesterol levels and improved liver function and glucose metabolism, which collectively may translate into a lower risk of heart disease, fatty liver, and type 2 diabetes.”

Ozcan urges caution when using thunder god vine for obesity. The studies are only preliminary. More research needs to be conducted to find if this extract is safe for humans. “Celastrol is found in the roots of the thunder god vine in small amounts, but the plant’s roots and flowers have many other compounds,” he says. “As a result, it could be dangerous for humans to consume thunder god vine extracts to lose weight,” Ozcan explains.

In the future, Ozcan aims to get deeper in the study of the mechanisms behind Celastrol’s leptin sensitivity effects. “We have been heavily focusing on this line of research in my laboratory and hope that this approach will help us to understand the mechanisms in nature that are leading to the development of obesity,” Ozcan says. “In the end, my main goal is to see this research leading to a novel and powerful treatment for obesity in humans.”

The study showing that Chinese thunder god vine may treat obesity was published in the journal Cell.

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1. “Thunder God Vine Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine Is a Potential Obesity Treatment.” EurekAlert! Cell Press, 21 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.
2. “Treatment of Obesity with Celastrol.” Cell. Cell, 21 May 2015. Web. 26 May 2015.

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