When it comes to losing a few extra pounds, cannabis usually isn’t the first thing to come up in conversation. Although cannabis has been stereotyped as something bad for the waistline, with side effects like lethargy and the infamous munchies, researchers from Deakin University in Geelong, Australia are working on developing a new weight loss pill that combines extracts from the cannabis plant and vitamin A to produce quite the unexpected effect.
Published in the medical journal Endocrinology, this new study explains that the combination of these two compounds essentially blocks the body from forming lipid (or fat) deposits in the body. And while this does not cause existing lipid deposits from burning away from the body, like normal weight loss pills do, it can give those suffering from severe obesity a chance to help their bodies and stop new, unnecessary lipid deposits from forming.
The secret behind this new medication is how the two compounds affect different pathways in the body. Vitamin A directly effects the retinoic acid pathway, which helps in the development and formation of animals and the cannabis extracts affect the endocannabinoid system, a part of the nervous system that controls different processes such as pain tolerance, appetite and memory.
The researchers used both human cells and the cells of an indigenous fish known as a zebrafish to test the effects of the combination. After administering low doses of cannabis extracts with Vitamin A supplements, it was discovered that the fat deposits found in some of the zebrafish disappeared completely.
“The results of our study show, for the first time, that particular compounds in cannabis and vitamin A can work together to reduce the deposit of lipids,” said researcher Dr. Yann Gibert, head of the Metabolic Genetic Diseases Research Laboratory at Deakin Medical School. “This finding opens up exciting opportunities to potentially treat obesity without the need for invasive surgery.”
Using this form of cannabis treatment is safer than taking over-the-counter weight loss solutions because it only contains natural products. There is no need for the numerous different chemicals that are pumped into the current weight loss pills that can increase the risk of developing skin cancer or be laced with amphetamines. These chemicals are usually kept secret from the Food and Drug Administration and can cause people to have dangerous (and sometimes fatal) adverse effects to the human body.
In the future, people who are interested in supplements for weight loss may have a healthier alternative.
“The complementary actions of the endocannabinoid system and retinoic acid pathway in reducing fat deposits have the potential to treat obesity in a safer and more effective way than if they were used independently,” Dr. Gibert explains. “This approach only focuses on fat and avoids effects on the brain, which has been a concern in previous research involving cannabis.”
At the moment, the combination has not been tested on human patients, but with the promising results from the zebrafish tests it is looking like this may be a new pioneer in the weight loss industry. And, if it catches on well with the medical community, it may be the newest way for those suffering from obesity to get their weight under control and live a happy, healthy life.
The researchers are currently undergoing further tests and studies to discover if there are any long-term effects of the chemical combination, as well as if the same effects can be found in human patients. They expect the medication to be fully tested, developed and ready to be distributed publicly sometime in the next five years.
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