Friday, March 26, 2010

The calorie conqueror: Herbal pill 'can cut your appetite by a fifth ... and even cure a sweet tooth'

Here we go again: A quick and dirty study with no long term follow-up and no mention of side effects from the strong stimulants used. Some of the women taking it were probably too shaky to eat!

It could be the answer to your weight loss prayers - and there is no punishing exercise regime required. Women can cut their daily calorie intake by almost a fifth if they simply take a herbal diet pill, research reveals today.

The supplement has also been shown to help those with a sweet tooth - reducing the temptation to indulge in sugary snacks.

Zotrim, which is based on three South American plants and is freely available from supermarkets and chemists, was tested by scientists at the University of Liverpool.

They found that women who took the pill with their breakfast had a much lower appetite at lunch time - cutting their calorie intake by 17.6 per cent. Of 58 volunteers who were given either Zotrim or a dummy pill in the morning, those on the herbal supplement only picked at their afternoon meal.

The subjects, some of whom were overweight, were observed at a test lunch buffet where they were told to eat as much they wanted. Those on Zotrim ate on average 132 fewer calories - the equivalent of a Milky Way or can of cola.

If the effects were replicated throughout the day, the pill would cut a dieter's daily count by 400 or 500 calories, equivalent to two bars of chocolate or a kebab.

Zotrim is designed to make the user feel fuller for longer. But it also appears to take the edge off a sweet tooth, cutting the women's selection of biscuits and chocolate mousse from the buffet by 27 per cent.

The women taking the herbal pill finished eating around three minutes earlier than the others - indicating they did feel full sooner, the British Feeding and Drinking Group conference will hear today.

Researcher Dr Jason Halford, an obesity expert, said the findings suggest that Zotrim has a 'robust' effect on a dieter's appetite, which could help them lose weight.

The pill, which costs £22.99 for a month's supply, contains caffeine and other ingredients from herbs Guarana, Yerba Mate and Damiana.

The cocktail delays the rate at which the stomach empties by about 20 minutes. The process is not dangerous because it merely extends the length of time taken to digest the food.

However, it makes it difficult for dieters to overeat because they feel uncomfortably full sooner. It is hoped this will make them change their eating habits, stopping them from piling the pounds back on when they stop taking the supplement.

Previous research has shown that Zotrim can help overweight women lose an average of two inches from their waists in just four weeks. Some of those taking part shed five inches from their middles.

Another study credited the pills with helping women lose an average of 11lb in six weeks - those taking a dummy drug lost less than 1lb.

But not all studies of Zotrim have had such good results. A report by consumer watchdog Which? concluded that although there was evidence of significant weight loss in the short-term, the results of long-term follow-up studies have been 'disappointing'.

Zotrim inventor Dr Lasse Hessel said the pill 'helps people cheat on their own stomach'.


High hopes for drug to kill off TB

SYDNEY researchers have made a discovery which could lead to the first new drug in 50 years for the deadly disease tuberculosis. The team, led by Warwick Britton, head of the mycobacterial research program at the Centenary Institute, has identified a protein that is essential for the survival of the TB bugs, and is developing a drug to block it.

Tuberculosis is not common in Australia today, but it is "out of control" in some neighbours, including Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Indonesia, Professor Britton said.

According to the World Health Organisation one-third of the world's population is infected with the bacteria that cause the disease. Once a person is infected the disease can lie dormant - and untreatable - until it attacks.

Particularly worrying are drug-resistant strains, Professor Britton said. If he and his colleagues are successful they will develop a drug that kills the bacteria even while dormant in the lungs. It will also provide a rare non-antibiotic treatment.

Professor Britton estimated that a drug that can be widely used in humans would be available in five to 10 years.


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