A natural compound extracted from a traditional Chinese plant called the “thunder god” vine can help fight obesity, a recent study says. The experiment conducted on mice has shown signs of drastic weight loss.
During the study, the scientists discovered that consumption of the plant extract reduced food intake in mice. This led to a whooping 45 percent decrease of body weight in three weeks in obese mice. According to the researchers, the mice consumed 80 percent less food after being given the extract.
The Science Recorder states that the compound proved to be more effective than bariatric surgery. People undergo bariatric surgery to get rid of excess fat from the stomach.
The researchers have named the plant extract Celastrol. The chemical increases the body's sensitivity to leptin, which is a hormone responsible for the regulation of food intake, body weight and appetite. Obese individuals are known to lack cell-signaling 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. The message from this study is that there is still hope for making leptin work,” said lead author Omut Ozcan, in a statement.
In addition to reduced appetite, the researchers found a decrease in cholesterol and improvement in liver functions in the mice who were administered Celastrol. It is not yet known if the substance is safe or effective for humans, however.
"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. As a result, it could be dangerous for humans," Ozcan noted in a statement.
The study was published online in the journal Cell.