New hope for obesity: TCM cuts fat, long term
CM NEWS – A Chinese medicine seems to be effective in cutting food intake of obese rats and reducing body weight by as much as 33%. The study also suggests that the might provide long term control of body weight.
The study was done at the Center for Advanced Nutrition of Utah State University. According to the researchers, traditional Chinese herbal products were reported to be effective for the treatment of obesity. Among them, Chinese herbal extract Number Ten (NT) is a dietary herbal formulation prepared from rhubarb, ginger, astragalus, red sage and tumeric. This study tested the effectiveness of NT in reducing body weight gain in rats.
What is Number Ten (NT)? Number Ten (NT, which is not a trade name) is a herbal that was reported in a published patent specification to be effective in preventing obesity in rats when it was orally gavage fed.
The effect of NT to reduce body weight was reported in otherwise normal rats that had been made very obese by feeding a high energy diet and also in obese rats that had been treated with monosodium glutamate (to induce hypothalamic lesions). In the former study, an improvement in blood lipid and blood glucose levels was also noted and in the latter one the obesity reducing effect was shown in rats of both genders. In a third study, NT was shown to be effective in attenuating the development of obesity without affecting the gain in lean body tissue in a young growing male rat that had been fed on high fat diet to induce obesity.
The herbal NT is derived from the following formula:
(1) Dahuang (??, Rheum officinale Baill.) – 40%
To treat: lack of bowel movement, dysentry, blood clots, tumour, red and painful eyes, abdominal-distention and/or pain, blood in stool, # hemorrhoidal bleeding, urination burning, nose bleeding, coughing out blood, sore extremities, edema, jaundice, lesions, burns and scalding (external application).
(2) Shayuanjili (????, ??, Astragalus complanatus R. Br.) – 13.3%
To treat: spermatorrhea, premature ejaculation, achy loin, dizziness, frequent urination, enuresis vagina discharge, and neurasthenia.
(3) Danshen (??, Salvia miltiorrhiza Bge.) – 13.3%
To treat: stroke, angina and heart attack, as an antihypertensive and a sedative.
(4) Shengjiang (??, fresh ginger, Zingiber officinale Rosc.) – 6-7%
Functions: Anti-bacteria (especially Salmonella) and anti-trichomoniasis; lowers blood lipids; reduces pain; anti-inflammation; anti- coagulation of platelets; anti-allergic; anti-tumours; and prevents sea sickness etc.
(5) Jianghuang (??, Curcuma longa L.) – 26-27%
Functions: lowers blood lipids; anti-coagulation of platelets; protects liver from toxin; promotes secretion of bile; promotes flow of menses and relieves pain; anti-tumour; anti-inflammatory; anti-oxidation; promotes metabolism of alcohol; antibiotic; antivirus; and protects heart muscle from lack of oxygen etc.
(For more information about curcumins in yellow curry, please read this article.)
The herbs were allowed to soak for 8 hours. The water in the pot with the four-herb mixture was boiled until the volume was reduced by half. A cold rhubarb was then added to the four-herb mixture and heated to just below boiling point for 20 minutes before cooling. After filtering the large particulates from the , the remaining liquid was freeze-dried to a powder form, producing 0.5 g of solids from 10 ml of liquid.
In the present study, 60 female Wistar rats were fed a high fat diet and acclimated to gavage feeding. The rats were divided into five treatment groups:
- Group 2: NT 1.5 g/day
- Group 3: NT 0.75 g/day
- Group 4: pair fed to Group 2
- Group 5: d-fenfluramine (an appetite suppressant) 2mg/kg
10 rats per group were sacrificed on day 56. Weight, food intake, clinical chemistry and body composition were evaluated. 5 animals in the control and 1.5 g/day NT groups were left untreated during a two week recovery period.
The results showed that all treatment groups gained less weight than the control group. These are the reduction percentages:
- Group 3 (NT 0.75g/day) => 24.6%
- Group 2 (NT 1.5g/day) => 33.3%
- Group 5 (d-fenfluramine) =>12.3%
- Group 4 (pair fed) => 33.3%
Moreover, leptin, a protein hormone with important effects in regulating body weight, metabolism and reproductive function, decreased 27.5% to 46.2% in the treatment groups vs. control.
Parametrial fat decreased 14.1% to 55.5% in the NT and pair fed groups vs. control.
The NT groups had soft stools, loss of hair around the mouth and colouration to the urine and stool without evidence of blood or bilirubin (attributed to chromogens in NT). There were no differences between groups in the clinical chemistry.
Reduction in weight gain with NT treatment appears to be caused by reduction in food intake rather than any metabolic effects, the researchers write.
What’s more encouraging is that the rats treated with high dose NT that were allowed a two week post treatment recovery period did not exhibit any catch-up growth during this period. This finding may suggest a continued response to NT or storage of the active components within the body. It also suggests that the NT treatment may lead to a long lasting reduction in body weight.
The mechanism through which NT reduced food intake is unknown. There were no clinical symptoms that would cause concern in using this product in humans.
With these strong results, the researchers concluded that this study demonstrate that NT was effective in reducing body weight gain in rats that had been fed a high fat diet to induce obesity. Its effects are maintained throughout the treatment period as shown in the present study. No toxicity of NT was found in rats although gastric toxicity was reported in humans.