(Washington Post) Scientists have been scouring the world in recent decades for all manner of miracle plants that can help people slim down. As the market for weight-loss products and supplements has grown to a multi-billion-dollar industry, they've looked at dandelions, coffee and nuts, among other things. They've been cultivating an edible succulent called the caralluma fimbriata chewed by tribesmen in rural India to control their hunger during a day's hunt. And they have been trying to isolate and extract whatever it is in an African plant called hoodia, which looks like a spikey pickle, that tricks you into feeling full even if you haven't eaten a bite.
But none of these has been more promising in early studies than a traditional Chinese medicine known as thunder god vine.
In a paper published in the journal Cell on Thursday, scientists said an extract made from the plant reduces food intake and has led to a dramatic 45 percent decrease in body weight in obese mice.
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Study author Omut Ozcan, an endocrinologist at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said the substance appears to work by enhancing a fat-derived hormone called leptin that signals to the body when it has enough fuel and energy. Humans who lack leptin, can eat voraciously and can become morbidly obese.