Researchers believe Celastrol - traditionally used in Chinese medicine - could hold key to weight loss. 

A potential new option for the treatment of obesity that stops people feeling hungry has been found in a plant-based substance – traditionally used in Chinese medicine.

In tests researchers in Germany found that Celastrol showed promising weight loss effects that could in turn help people reduce their risk of developing related health complications including type 2 diabetes.

The substance works by activating specific areas of the brain responsible for making you feel full or not after eating and can play a key role in controlling body weight.

The results of the study carried out by scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research, were recently published in the journal Diabetes.

Katrin Pfuhlmann, PhD student and first author of the study, said: “Celastrol reactivates the body’s own mechanisms for controlling weight that would otherwise be switched off in obese individuals. 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.”

According to German health guidelines overweight people should aim to lose between 5-10% of their body weight per year depending on their body mass index. However, only few people reach their weight loss goal.

Dr Paul Pfluger, study co-author, said: “Yet, breaking through this ‘magical barrier’ is so important, as it leads to an improvement in metabolism and accompanying metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.”

Dr Pfluger and his team in the Neurobiology of Diabetes department at the Helmholtz Zentrum München found that Celastrol could lead to significant weight loss and an improvement in diabetes. They hoped their work could lead to the development of new anti-obesity drugs.

Dr Pfluger added: “Relevant clinical trials are currently taking place in the United States, and we eagerly await the initial results.”

Read the report in Diabetes
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