Weight loss is, famously, a marathon not a sprint. We have to exercise and consider what we eat carefully over the long term. But what if there was a drug that could simply get rid of fat? That’s been the holy grail for a lot of pharmaceutical companies, for obvious reasons, and researchers at the University of Wyoming may have found it in the humble chili pepper.
The claims that chili peppers, or hot food in general, helps with weight loss have been around for a while (they’re the lead ingredient in every 7-Eleven weight loss capsule). The problem is amount and exposure: Peppers just don’t have a consistent amount of capsaicin, so unless you want everything with chiles morning, noon and night, there’s no way to be sure you’re getting enough into your system. Or, for that matter, what “enough” really is, for the average person, as the “bioavailabity,” or how much capsaicin your body can use, varies from person to person.
But there is science to back up the idea that chili peppers help. Capsaicin works by latching onto a receptor in your taste bud cells called TRPV1, and fat cells have that receptor. So what the team at the University of Wyoming wanted to test was: What happens if you develop a way for capsaicin to be in the body, on a slow-release timer? As such, they created a drug that does more or less that, with a few revisions, and fed it to some beefy mice. Sure enough, it worked, and even better, it worked safely. The mice have been taking the drug for eight months with no problems. It may even be able to be used in site-specific ways, so in theory, this could be injected as a form of chemical liposuction.
The question now is whether it’ll work on humans. Money is being sought for safety and efficacy trials on humans, which will take years, and of course, this might not pan out, or may be less effective. Nor does it mean you can eat all the fat you want as long as there’s a habanero to go with it. But, especially for people who are struggling with their weight, it offers the hope of a bit more control over our bodies.
(via New Atlas)