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Extract of Thunder God Vine (Yes, That’s What It’s Called) Reduces Obesity in Mice

Who knew Zeus’s reach extended beyond the celestial realm and into the realm of weight loss? A study published in the journal Cell found that Celastrol, a compound found in a plant called the thunder god vine, causes obese mice to lose a considerable amount of weight. Researchers administered Celastrol to two groups of mice; one group consisted of obese mice with normal leptin functioning (leptin is an appetite suppressing hormone), while the other consisted of obese mice that were leptin-deficient or leptin receptor-deficient. Past attempts to find a drug therapy for obesity have focused on reducing cellular resistance to leptin, although those attempts have generally been unsuccessful. Yet, researchers who conducted this more recent study observed something remarkable:

  • Compared with untreated mice, obese mice with normal leptin functioning that received Celastrol reduced their food intake by 80% and, by the third week, reduced their body weight by 45%.
  • Mice that received Celastrol, but that were leptin-deficient or leptin receptor-deficient, did not experience significant changes in their food intake or bodyweight.

Not only do the findings suggest that Celastrol could be a powerful weight loss agent, they also suggest that it works specifically by increasing cellular sensitivity to leptin—a feat past drugs therapies have failed to accomplish. In other words, while Celastrol didn’t increase the mice’s leptin, it did increase the uptake of existing leptin into their cells. It should be cautioned that this was an animal study that might not translate to humans. Also, Celastrol exists in small quantities in the thunder god vine, and is only one of the many compounds found in the plant, so taking thunder god vine or an extract of the vine might not be safe or produce the same results.

Source: Cell

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